Valley Permaculture Alliance

Again my newbiness to AZ is showing but I have another question. I have read some on raising strawberries in Extreme Gardening by Dave Owens. He suggests planting them in the fall and gives some suggested varieties to plant. Are there any successful strawberry gardeners who can share which varieties have worked well for you and when you plant them? Also how much sun and shade would you recommend. I have a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade where I am planning on planting them. I raised both June bearing and Everbearing strawberries for numerous years in Washington. Thanks in advance the great advice i know will be shared.

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I think your morning sun, afternoon shade spot will work best. I have so many problems with birds stealing them that I grow a lot of them in pots or hanging planters on the patio. I have planted them both in fall and spring and they have done fine, I have had better luck planting the actual growing plants verses the bare root plants. The varieties that Dave Owens suggests do well here, I would just follow his advice on that. I really wish Dave Owens was my father-in-law or at least a neighbor. :)
Thanks for your info. LOL birds I am worried about as my cocker spaniel snoozes in the sun while the quail are eating seeds in the nearby grass. We are putting in raised beds and bringing in good soil. i saw plants yesterday at Walmart but didn't rmember what kind are dream neighbor Dave owens recommended
Ever since I saw strawberry crowns on the Seeds of Change site, I've been thinking about growing them. Unfortunately, what I've found online about the subject has been disheartening:

"Growing Strawberries
Strawberries are a frustrating crop here. Right about the time they take off and start pumping out berries it gets too hot for them. Furthermore, they don't like the alkaline soil so one has to practically replace the native soil with compost and other amendments to get them to grow. Sure, there are always those gardeners you will run into here that tell tales of their wonderful berry patch and how sweet the berries they had last year were. Further investigation always reveals that they had just a few nice berries for 2 weeks in late May before the cooker started. Strawberries in the Arizona desert .... not worth it. If you still insist on trying the best variety for here appears to be Sequoia."
Well I LOL have always been the strong willed child when it comes to gardening and when told it won't work i usually set out to prove it can. If you want to try go for it, if doesn't work out you have a few dollars in learning invested and if it does Oh glorious red strawberries!!
Exactly my experience. I know of a few people who are able to have very mild success with strawberries, but they require a LOT of water to maintain, and they are always goners by mid july. Too resource and time intensive for my preferences. I cant keep them hydrated enough without feeling guilty about how much water I have to use, for such a small yield. Again, some are successful, but the only tales I have been able to verify first hand come from pretty shady spots that stay wet all thru spring. They yield of just a few berries, prized though they may be, just isnt enough to get me to continue to experiment, especially when the grackles get at least 50% of any yield. Even the supposedly 'heat tolerant' varieties are meant for So. Cal heat with less reduction in yield than traditional varieties. The plants decline very rapidly once temps get up to 105.
From the little success Ive had, they need soil that is really, really high in organic matter, with a pH nearer to 7.0 than we ever get naturally. Good drainage is a huge bonus too. Of course those are holy grails of low desert gardening.....
Maybe these would be a good thing to grow in small earthboxes (those self-watering planters) on the patio? That would be an easy way to control the dirt and moisture without wasting too much. Of the plants I grew in afternoon shade last year, more than half are still alive, my yields weren't giant, so I guess this places me in the 'mildly successful' category. One thing I learned is that under no circumstances can you use a strawberry pot in summer in Phoenix.
I had a potted one on my patio this past summer that was planted the previous fall. It produced enough that my son thought it was fun. But one plant didn't produce enough to consider making even one batch of jam. It sprouted a bunch of runners over the sides by the end of the summer so I transplanted it in compost in the shade of our side-yard under three 50+ year old pines. It has 5 or 6 new crowns since the winter growth. We'll see if it gets enough sun to fruit this year. I only planted it because it is my son's favorite and I like him to see how food comes to be. He has more interest in the plants that produce what he loves.
When I lived in the South, people struggled with strawberries... most ended up with them in pots. The only successful patch I saw was in a pine-needle mulch bed. And those were tiny, but yummy.

Wow, strawberries grow in CA, though. I was always fascinated by the plants when I lived in Oxnard... the fields were behind our house. Neat little rows covered in black plastic. Massive berries. I think they like warm days and cool nights, and the moisture in the air. They love that area right off the coast.
We moved from Spokane, WA (which is almost to Idaho) and climate is very similar to Flagstaff and grew huge berries in the summers there. We only grew enough at home for fresh eating in our cereal etc (picked a quart every day or two) but picked nearly a 100 pounds every summer at nearby farms for freezing to eat on ice cream, waffles etc and to make can jam. Also had 70 feet of raspberries and 35 feet of boysenberries - I love berries!!
I agree about the strawberry pots! The only guy that maybe doesn't die is the fellow in the very top. I too am a "mildly successful" strawberry grower here in Phoenix. All I can add is Sun in the spring, shade and water in the summer, keep the frost off in the winter, and be stubborn as all get out and keep at it. I had 5 ripe delicious beauties this morning and 5 or 6 more that should be ready for eating tomorrow.
I too am a huge lover of strawberries and decided to plant some (Mesa) and see how they would do. My husband and I put in a raised bed of concrete blocks (the 4" wide interlocking type), two rows high with the first one partly in the ground so it would end up level. We incorporated a lot of peat moss, to lower PH, and compost and put the bed on a drip system. (We started with a snaking soaker hose but it didn't water evenly) I planted half everbearing and half June bearing (purchased at Lowe's, don't remember what kind). They really took off and grew like crazy. They even got berries and lots and lots of runners. I think the success with their growth was because they are on the South side of our back wall, getting some afternoon shade from it, and even more shade in the afternoon from a large orange tree to the West. I would consider it a successful undertaking except the Johnson grass from the other side of the wall (along the alley way) also loved the wonderful growing conditions on "the other side of the fence"and took over my bed. I also failed to fertilize as often as I should (probably because I didn't want to encourage the grass and figured I would have to dig up the bed and deal with it at another time anyway. Sure couldn't spray with the berries spreading out all over the bed). Here is a picture if I can get it uploaded. If you can access them, the first two are a couple of weeks after planting and the third one was, as the picture states, June 8. By the time I had given up completely on the bed, it was completely full of large plants. I still haven't had the energy to remove all the soil to clean it up and start over. (I'm 67 and have a very bad back) :( Deep sigh!!!
They look like beautiful healthy plants, did you get to harvest as many berries as you'd hoped and do you feel like it was worth the trouble?


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