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The gardening world is doing cartwheels over Maxim Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa 'Maxim'). Picture a large strawberry that's up to four times larger than most strawberries on the market, and you'll have an idea of how large Maxim Strawberries grow. Professional growers and horticulturists compare its size to that of a small peach! But you don't have to be a commercial grower to harvest these colossal berries right in your own backyard, because we're your source for these hard-to-find Maxim Strawberry plants. The Secret is Out, and You Heard it Here First You may not have heard about Maxim Strawberries, but they're all the rage in Europe where plant breeders developed it. There's no sacrificing flavor with these huge berries; you'll enjoy the same delicious and sweet strawberry taste but in a much-larger berry. These are sure to sell out, so order early and get your plants set out in anticipation of a super-sized harvest! Easy to Grow Even for Beginning Gardeners Strawberries are an easy "beginner fruit" for novice gardeners. They don't require intensive care, and the attention they do need can be given by using a simple care checklist. Maxim Strawberry plants are classified as June-bearing strawberries. This means they produce a large harvest in June within a two- to three-week period. If you enjoy making homemade strawberry jam, the harvest season of Maxim Strawberry plants makes it easy to pick a lot of berries in a short period of time to make jams and jellies. Fresh is Best There's no comparison to the flavor you'll get from the strawberries that you grow in your own backyard strawberry patch and supermarket berries. And imagine your friends' and family's eyes when they see these huge Maxim Strawberries in a fruit salad or as a dessert topping on your homemade strawberry shortcake! You'll also have plenty of berries for fresh snacking or slicing over your cereal or oatmeal. And if you like fruit smoothies, you'll love them even more with the addition of Maxim Strawberries. Strawberries Pack a Healthy Punch with Each Juicy Bite • Strawberries are rich in fiber but low in fat. • One cup of fresh strawberries contains approximately 50 calories. • They're packed with potassium and Vitamin C. Join Other Gardening Trendsetters You'll grow Maxim Strawberries for the obvious reason '– their fruit '– but why not combine their edible benefit with their ornamental appeal? "Edible landscaping" describes a landscape design trend that uses edible plants in other ways. For example, as Maxim Strawberries grow, they form a solid mat, which you could grow as a flowering/fruiting groundcover to edge your flower beds or cover a slope! A Berry-Picking Primer • Maxim Strawberries won't continue to ripen after you pick them. It's best to leave them on the plants until they are fully red, and then wait an extra couple of days before picking them. This is when they are the sweetest because their sugar content is optimized. • Pick berries in the morning instead of waiting until the heat of the day to harvest them. • Try picking berries at different stages of redness and firmness, and taste them to determine the stage of harvesting that suits your palate. Once you find that perfectly ripened time frame, you can pick all the other berries at that same stage of redness and firmness. • Snip the stems above the green caps on the berries to release them from plants. Don't grasp the berries and pull them from plants, which can bruise the fruit or damage the plants. • It's important to pick berries as soon as they're ripe so they won't rot on the plants or attract insects. • Don't rinse Maxim Strawberries if they're going straight to the refrigerator. Place unrinsed berries (without removing their caps) between sheets of paper towels in a plastic container immediately after picking them and refrigerate. Wait 'til you're ready to eat or prepare the berries before you rinse them. Choose an Ideal Planting Site Maxim Strawberry plants prosper in full sun, where they'll receive at least 8 hours of sun each day, to reach their maximum fruiting potential. To minimize the risk of verticillium wilt, a disease of strawberry plants that is transmitted through soil-borne pathogens, don't plant strawberries on a site that's been used to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, or potatoes, which can carry this disease. Find a garden spot where the soil drains well after rains or irrigation; otherwise, the strawberry crowns can rot. Loamy or sandy soil is ideal, but if the soil in your garden is heavy, such as clay, you can loosen it by working 2 to 3 inches of compost or organic matter into the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. Maxim Strawberry plants also respond well to growing in a raised bed, which provides the sharp drainage they need. An acidic pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal for growing Maxim Strawberry plants. Your local Cooperative Extension Service will test the pH of your soil from a sample you take to them, and they'll also recommend any fertilizer that's needed. Strawberry Hills vs. Rows Other types of strawberry plants grow best when planted in hills, but Maxim Strawberry plants grow best using the matted method: • Set your plants 12-18 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. You may look at the individual plants you receive and think that's too far apart to plant them, but each plant will send out runners with what's called a "daughter plant" at the end of each runner. The daughter plants will become rooted, and all the plants that are produced will form a matted groundcover. • Be sure not to set the plants too deeply in the soil by burying the crowns (the base of the plant) because this can cause your plants to rot. Spread out the roots and position each plant with the crowns just above the soil surface. • Here's the hard part. The first year that you plant Maxim Strawberry plants, remove all the flowers that are produced, which means you won't harvest any berries until the second year. We said this was the hard part! If you do this, it allows the plants to grow stronger so that they can support the prolific and huge berries that form the following year. • Apply a starter fertilizer by dissolving 1 tablespoon of 10-10-10 fertilizer in 1 gallon of water. (You can also use an organic equivalent.) Pour 1 cup of this solution around each plant. Ongoing Care for Your New Plants • Watering. Providing adequate water is important for the production and quality of your Maxim Strawberry plants, especially during the window of time from when the flowers first appear through harvest time. Keep the soil moist but never soggy by applying 1 to 2 inches of water each week if it doesn't rain. • Mulching. By applying a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around your plants, you'll help the plants conserve moisture. Keep the mulch pulled back from the crown of each plant so the plants don't rot. • Fertilizing. If you apply too much fertilizer, this can actually prevent your Maxim Strawberry plants from producing lots of berries, and it can also cause damage to the plants. It's best to have the soil tested and follow all recommendations, which your local Cooperative Extension Service can do for a nominal fee. The Importance of Renovating Your Strawberry Patch You can ensure that your Maxim Strawberry plants continue to produce for numerous years by a simple process called renovation. Each year (beginning the second year after you've planted), immediately after you've finished harvesting the fruit, mow the leaves 1 inch above the crowns, and remove the debris. Thin the plants so they once again form rows instead of a solid mat, which allows the new runners to begin filling in the spaces between the rows. Frost Protection Although Maxim Strawberry plants are winter-hardy to Zone 5, they'll respond favorably to a little insulation during winter. After the nighttime temperatures fall to 20 degrees F in the fall, spread a 3- to 6-inch layer of straw over your plants. As soon as warmer spring temperatures arrive, and you see new growth on your plants, remove the straw covering. If the weather forecast predicts a late-spring frost, your uncovered plants may suffer if the frost kills their developing flower buds. No flowers means no berries, so protect your plants by covering them with a sheet, light blanket, or frost fabric during potentially damaging cold weather. Predator Protection Your backyard wildlife '– birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other creatures '– may make a beeline to munch on your Maxim Strawberries! You may need to cover the plants loosely with bird netting that you secure to the ground using bricks or landscape pins. (If you order enough plants, you can plant a small, uncovered berry patch apart from your intended harvest just for the wildlife.)
Maxim Strawberry Plants are self-fertile. You will get fruit with only one plant. However, adding an additional Maxim Strawberry Plant will drastically increase the size of your crop.