It is never too early to start planning your summer gardens. Strawberries are a great addition to any garden in Calgary. There was a time when growing strawberries in Calgary was difficult because there were very few hardy strawberry varieties to choose from but that has all changed in recent years. Thanks to new varieties primarily from Washington and the East Coast of Canada, hardy, bountiful strawberry varieties are now available.
Older strawberry varieties like Tristar were ever bearing strawberries that would produce fruit throughout the summer. But the fruit form this variety was sparse with small berries and low yield. Now new varieties like Kent allow Calgary gardeners to enjoy June bearing strawberries. The Kent strawberry is a large juicy and very sweet berry that has excellent yield. Combining a June bearing strawberry with ever bearing strawberries is a great way to produce strawberries from June until October.
Strawberry gardening is not just limited to in ground plantings anymore. You can choose to grow strawberries in containers, hanging baskets or even in straw bales. The highest yield will likely still come from in ground or straw bales but if your growing area is restricted then container gardening is a great choice.
If you are planning on creating a strawberry garden then don’t just plant single rows of plants. Instead, plant a single row and then allow the plants to runner. The runners are shoots that come off the mother plant and eventually these shoots become baby strawberry plants. You can train the runners by hand or hoe and place them in areas where the soil is open and the plants will have room to mature. Be careful not to cut the runners as these long stems provide nutrients to the baby strawberry plants. Once the runner plants take root they will start to create a wide row of strawberries. We recommend about a 2-3′ wide mat of plants for high yield.
Wintering you strawberries correctly is very important especially in Calgary’s very cold climate. In the fall after the frost starts to hit your plantings you can start to cover them up for the winter. You can choose a variety of covers for the plants protection including wheat straw, leaves or mulch. Make sure you create a good think protective layer over top your strawberries of at least 8-12″. This protective covering will insure you have much less winter kill and a much greater yield of fruit come summer time.
Your local Calgary will have a good selection of June bearing and overbearing strawberries plants. They are typically available in early May.
For more information on growing strawberries in Calgary see these links: