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Q: Growing Strawberries in Red Clay?
I am starting to plant Strawberries for the first time. I understand that I need to Plant them in “runners”. Should I plant more than 4 plants? How many strawberries grow on one plant? I am going to create a garden just for them. Also, do you have any tips about growing strawberries in NC red Clay?
Answer to: Growing Strawberry Plants in Red Clay?
Congratulations on taking the plunge and growing your own strawberries this year! Red clay soil is usually less friendly to young, developing strawberry plants than a rich, sandy-loamy soil is. If you have the hard-packed and dense red clay that I am familiar with, you will need to do some heavy soil amending to ensure a good harvest. You’ll need to add a lot of organic material and locate the strawberry bed in a place that will drain well. Drainage can be a major problem for soils with high clay content. I’d recommend you checking out the complete Growing Strawberries reference page for a lot more help on how to plant or grow your strawberries.
With that said, a good strawberry plant for poor soils is Surecrop. It has a reputation for doing better than other varieties in less-than-optimal conditions (hence its name!). There are several other varieties that will likely do well for you in North Carolina as well. You can see the list of recommended varieties for North Carolina for those.
In general, you can expect most varieties of strawberry plants to produce about one quart of strawberries per plant (see here for more). The care given to the plants in both August and September (when the perennating buds are developing that will turn into the following spring’s strawberries) and during the strawberry growing season (late winter through spring) also has a big impact on the quantity of strawberries produced. Generally speaking, for fresh consumption only, 30 to 35 well-cared-for strawberry plants should feed a family of five. If you plan on freezing strawberries, 50 to 60 strawberry plants would be more advisable. Good luck!