Fertilizer For Strawberries  

Given a choice of the various fruits that can be grown in the garden, most would opt for strawberries. Strawberries can be grown in almost any garden and they produce tasty berries in the first year of growth itself.

Strawberry is a false fruit, which in biological terms means that the fleshy part is not derived from the plant's ovary but from some adjacent tissue. This fruit belongs to species Fragaria and family Rosaceae. It primarily grows in temperate regions, but some varieties can also be grown in subtropical regions.

Strawberries were originally bred in Europe during the 18th century. Today, there are nearly 600 varieties of strawberries and they all differ in size, flavor and texture. Apart from its delicious taste, this fruit also offers certain optimal health qualities. Strawberry is an excellent source of phenols, a phytonutrient, which not only give the berries its color but is also a powerful antioxidant that works to defend the cell structures in the body and prevents oxygen damage in the organ systems. The phenol present in strawberries makes the fruit anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and a fruit that protects the heart. It protects against macular degeneration and rheumatoid arthritis as well.

This plant requires regular care and attention that include watering, additional nutrient supplements and fertilizers.

Strawberry is a short plant requiring a well drained loamy soil which is rich in organic matter. The soil should be slightly acidic with a pH ranging from 5.7 to 6.5. There should be moderate level of calcium in the soil since it causes yellowing of the leaves when in excess. The soil should contain moderate amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; in the region of 84 to 112 kg per hectare, 56 to 84 kg per hectare and 56 to 112 kg per hectare respectively. Since it is a shallow rooted plant, therefore it tends to use nutrients which are available near the top of the soil. There are various signs whereby the plant indicates towards the need for fertilizers. These markers include pale yellow colored leaves and no berries and no flowers, even though the plant may look green and healthy.  

There are different types of fertilizers that may be used for strawberries. The first kind is compost. Compost is the best soil improvement fertilizer and is recommended for all types of garden. It is a rich, natural and organic fertilizer that is highly favorable for strawberries. It is made of decomposing leaves, grass clippings and other plant material that add to the richness of the soil. Apple peels, disposed outer leaves of lettuce, shredded newspaper or any other vegetable material can also be added to the compost pile. After some time, the heat and moisture produced in the pile, promote the microbes to break down the plant material. The earthworms in decaying organic matter leave behind their droppings making the soil richer and more organic in nature.   

Commercial fertilizers can also be used. Commercial fertilizers contain a chemical blend of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium along with some trace minerals. The nitrogen, phosphate and potassium fertilizers should be added into the soil before the strawberry is planted. The nitrogen-based fertilizer should be given in two doses -- three weeks after planting and then again when the strawberry is flowering. Application of adequate amount of nitrogen gives higher and better quality of berries. The fertilizer bags display these three elements generally as numbers in a ratio such as '5-10-5' or '10-10-10', which give the percentage quantity for each element, with nitrogen being the first, phosphorous second and potassium third. Use a balanced fertilizer with ratios such as '5-5-5' or '10-10-10' for your strawberry plants.  

Having the knowledge of the fertilizers is not enough. No matter which fertilizer one chooses, it is best to get a soil test done in order to ensure that you do not over fertilize or under fertilize your strawberry plants.

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