Question: I’d like to grow strawberries, but friends have told me they’re difficult here in Texas. Is that true? How can I grow them?

Answer: Your friends are correct. They are very challenging. Strawberries don’t like our high summer temperatures. That’s why folks in the southern third of the state will plant them in the fall and harvest the fruit the following spring. The plants are usually discarded at that point. Winters in the northern two-thirds of the state are too cold to allow the plants to establish and bear fruit that quickly, so you plant them in February, pick the flowers off that first spring, and harvest your fruit the second April, 14 months after planting. Those plantings may succeed for several years.

Prepare the soil for your strawberries carefully. Eliminate all existing weeds prior to planting. Add several inches of organic matter and work the planting beds up 3 to 5 inches above the surrounding grade. Soil-borne diseases are a problem for strawberries, and good drainage is your best way of slowing their progress. It can also help if you erect some type of shade over the plants for the hot summer afternoons. They still will need very bright light, but you’ll want to give them any extra help you can when it’s really hot.

All things considered, of all our fruit crops, strawberries are probably more trouble and expense than they’re worth. Groceries sell such high quality fruit almost all year long now. Finally, for what it’s worth, the strawberry jars and other containers designed to grow strawberries won’t yield enough fruit to make them worth the expense of buying and planting them.

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