How Many People Will a Strawberry Plant Feed?
The truth is, one plant will never, ever be enough, even if just for one person! The average strawberry plant in good production mode, with good growing conditions, will produce up to 1 quart of strawberries per plant over a harvesting season normally lasting 3 to 4 weeks. To put it in perspective, that is just two of those little pint baskets you can get in the grocery store. One person can eat that many strawberries, fresh out of the basket, in a few days (if they'll last that long). On the other hand, if you will be slicing and sugaring for strawberry shortcake or making pies or parfaits, these same 2 pints of berries will not go quite as far, the process tending to reduce the volume a bit.
So How Many Do I Plant
The consensus among the experts estimates about 6 nicely producing strawberry plants per person per year, based on fresh consumption. If you are going to be freezing them, making jellies or jams or processing for syrup, you should at least double the number of plants, and possibly triple that number. Take into account the number of friends and family members who will want some fresh strawberries for themselves, and the kids or grandkids and big kids who may be visiting and raiding your strawberry patch. A lot of strawberry gardeners make gifts of jellies, jams and syrups. If you have a giving nature, plant a few more plants. This is where you might want to do some advance planning for what you'd like to do with your home-grown strawberries and ensure that you have the necessary equipment, such as canners, jars, freezer containers, etc. when your berries start coming off the bushes.
How Long Will the Plants Bear?
This part is up to you. Some strawberry beds have been in production for years. This involves harvesting and replanting runners as they become overcrowded. It also has to do with continuing nutrition, the care the strawberries receive in late summer and early fall, the buds forming at that time becoming the following spring's strawberries, and the protection provided throughout the winter, if needed where you live. The largest single reason for poor strawberry production in the spring is the lack of moisture provided during those critical late summer and early fall months. Regardless if you are starting a brand new strawberry patch or have a well-established bed, a drip irrigation system is an inexpensive and ultimately priceless investment in the quality and production of your home-grown strawberries. You will also want to cover your strawberry plants with straw if your winter is colder than normal, or if you live in an area where winters are freezing cold but your plants don't have a covering of snow to insulate them. This keeps the plants from heaving out of the ground, the most common reason for strawberry plant loss. You can read our blog article: Asparagus & Strawberries: Growing Tips, Fun Facts and Container Grown Strawberries, for more information on growing the best strawberries, even in limited space.
We wish you many happy strawberry seasons ahead!