This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
Messrs. Ellwanger & Barry, of the Mount Hope Nurseries, at Rochester, give the following directions for setting out and cultivating strawberries, the result of long and successful experience, in their recently issued Strawberry Catalogue:
The strawberry may be successfully grown in any soil adapted to the growth of ordinary field or garden crops. The ground should be well prepared, by trenching or plowing at least eighteen to twenty inches deep, and be properly enriched as for any garden crop. It is unnecessary to say that if the land is wet, it must be thoroughly drained.
In the Northern States, the season for planting in the spring is during the months of April and May. It may then be done with safety from the time the plants begin to grow until they are in blossom. This is the time we prefer for setting out large plantations.
During the months of August and September, when the weather is usually hot and dry, pot-grown plants may be planted to the best advantage. With the ball of earth attached to the roots, they can be transplanted without any failures, and the trouble and annoyance of watering, shading, etc., which are indispensable to the success of layer plants, are thus in a great measure avoided.
For family use, we recommend planting in beds four feet wide, with an alley two feet wide between. These beds will accommodate three rows of plants, which may stand fifteen inches apart each way, and the outside row nine inches from the alley. These beds can be kept clean, and the fruit can be gathered from them without setting the feet upon them.
This is the best mode that can be adopted for the garden. If you desire fine, large, high-flavored fruit, pinch off the runners as fast as they appear, repeating the operation as often as may be necessary during the summer. Every runner thus removed produces a new crown at the center of the plant, and in the fall the plants will have formed large bushes or stools, on which the finest strawberries may be expected the following season. In the meantime, the ground among the plants should be kept clear of weeds, and frequently stirred with a hoe or fork.
Where the winters are severe, with little snow for protection, a slight covering of leaves or litter, or the branches of evergreens, will be of great service. This covering should not be placed over the plants till after the ground is frozen, usually from the middle of November till the first of December in this locality. Fatal errors are often made by putting on too much and too early. Care must also be taken to remove the covering in spring just as soon as the plants begin to grow.
Before the fruit begins to ripen, mulch the ground among the plants with short hay or straw, or grass mowings from the lawn, or anything of that sort. This will not only keep the fruit clean, but will prevent the ground from drying and baking, and thus lengthen the fruiting season. Tan-bark can also be used as a mulch.
A bed managed in this way will give two full crops, and should then be spaded or plowed down, a new one having been in the meantime prepared to take its place.
The same directions with regard to soil, time of planting, protection, and mulching, as given above, are applicable when planting on a large scale.
The mode of growing usually pursued has its advantages for field culture, but cannot be recommended for the garden. In the field we usually plant in rows three to four feet apart, and the plants a foot to a foot and a half apart in the row. In this case much of the labor is performed with the horse and cultivator.
The number of plants required for an acre, at any given distance apart, may be ascertained by dividing the number of square feet in an acre (43,560) by the number of square feet given to each plant, which is obtained by multiplying the distance between rows by the distance between the plants. Thus strawberries planted three feet by one foot give each plant three square feet, or 14,520 plants to the acre.