Califonia Bountiful

Gardening 101 with Steve McShane: Strawberry success

Steve McShane of McShane's Nursery in Salinas offers his best tips for growing strawberries in your own garden!

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If you're looking for a fruit that's fresh and sweet, chances are you're reaching for a strawberry. With these tips from Steve McShane, owner of McShane's Nursery in Salinas, you'll have a bountiful supply in your own backyard!

  • Set strawberries into the ground so that the crown of each plant (where the stems emerge from the base of the plant) sits on the soil surface. Don't rush this job! Crowns set too deep run the risk of sitting in damp soil and rotting, while crowns left too high could dry out and fail. Getting the balance right is essential.
  • Water the plants into place to settle the soil around the roots and then keep the ground free of debris to give your plants a trouble-free start. You will need to keep a close eye on soil moisture levels to keep these shallow rooters happy. A mulch will help lock in the moisture, but be careful not to swamp the delicate crown at this early stage.
  • Start improving your soil. Strawberries need both excellent drainage and good water retention. They don't do well in poorly drained, clay soils, nor do they thrive in soggy places.
  • Check soil pH to ensure it's between 5.5 and 7. If necessary, amend your soil in advance.
  • Make planting holes deep and wide enough to accommodate the entire root system without bending it. However, don't plant too deep: The roots should be covered, but the crown should be right at the soil surface.
  • Strawberries require six to 10 hours a day of direct sunlight, so choose your planting site accordingly.

For more information about McShane's Nursery, visit

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