An excellent fertilizer for strawberries is Espoma Plant-tone. Two varieties, Chandler and Sweet Charlie strawberries, can be planted in the fall for berries ready for picking the following spring, without a year-long waiting period. Spring-planted varieties need to have the blooms picked the first season, to prevent the production of fruit the first year. This allows their roots to better develop and to provide a longer life for the plant.
Chandler and Sweet Charlie are excellent varieties for home gardeners, because they are both vigorous producers. Sweet Charlie is a strawberry plant that is disease-resistant, and it produces super-sweet, large and firm fruit with a good balance of sweet and tart. It is an early-season variety, ready to pick a week or two before Chandler.
Chandler strawberry plants are high yielding, with medium to large, bright berries that are full of flavor. This mid-season variety will thrive in rich soil that is kept evenly watered, especially in the first couple of weeks after planting. Chandler strawberries are popular with commercial growers because of their abundant fruit.
For home gardens, space strawberry plants 18 to 24 inches apart, in rows 42 to 48 inches apart. Tiered gardens (like the Original Pyramid Space Saver Garden) and strawberry pots are also an option for those with limited planting space.
Fall strawberry plants are available for shipping and planting the middle of September. Plants should be well-mulched in the fall, with mulching material removed in the spring when plants show new growth.
Fresh-picked, sweet and tart strawberries will be consumed quickly from the fruit bowl. Jams and jellies can be made with strawberries alone, or try blending with a mix of other berries. Strawberries are a fantastic snack when sliced and dried in a food dehydrator. They are a hit in fruit compotes alternately layered with whipped cream or smooth mascarpone cheese. No fruit tart or torte is complete without sliced strawberries. Both Chandler and Sweet Charlie are superb for fresh snacking, baking and preserving.
A fresh strawberry dropped into a glass of Champagne adds a festive and elegant touch. And chocolate-dipped strawberries will disappear as fast as you can make them. Both milk and dark chocolate complement the flavor and firm texture of the berries.
Spring strawberries are shipped as bare root plants, and fall plants are shipped as potted plants. Both Chandler and Sweet Charlie strawberries will ship in the fall.