When my children were young, the end of the school year was soon followed by the first field trip of summer: To a pick-your-own strawberry farm.

Now the kids are grown and I’m changing my strawberry regimen. This year I’m growing a day-neutral strawberry variety called ‘Seascape’ in my own garden. Unlike the June-bearing plants that we used to pick and that flower during shorter days of spring, day-neutral strawberry plants set flower buds all summer and can fruit from about July into fall. An ideal garden would include both June-bearing and day-neutral varieties for a long season of harvest.

My 50 ‘Seascape’ plants came from Fedco Trees, at a cost of $15. They’ll go into the garden as soon as the ground is dry enough to work without damaging it. In the meantime, they’re waiting in individual pots.

Their planting bed is almost ready: a slightly raised bed, about two-feet wide and 25 feet long, in a spot that gets full sun and has fertile, well drained soil with a pH of about 6.2. Once I amend the soil with a few inches of compost, I’ll plant two rows of berry plants, with rows about a foot apart and plants about 10 inches apart within the rows.

I’ll mulch the plants with a couple of inches of straw to keep the soil moist and prevent erosion, and to keep soil from splashing onto the fruits. Day-neutral strawberries can also be planted through black plastic mulch. This will give good weed control and will leave the bed in excellent shape for subsequent plantings of other crops.

The flower clusters will have to be removed for the first four to six weeks after planting so that the plants’ root systems develop well enough to support subsequent fruit.

Then we wait for the “medium-to-long conic high-yielding firm productive reliable fruit with bright red color and excellent flavor,” according to the Fedco description. “They are also uncommonly productive — about one pound of fruit per plant the first year, and slightly less the second year,” adds Fedco. Fruiting may continue into October, especially if plants are covered with row covers then.

While June-bearing strawberries are allowed to send out runners (side shoots), these are removed from day-neutral strawberries, leaving only individual plants.

Some people replant day-neutral strawberries annually; others keep them for a second year, especially if the plants are growing well and show no signs of disease. In the latter case, the plants should be mulched with about six inches of straw in late fall. This mulch is removed in spring, placed in the pathways, and the plants are given some added fertility the second year, such as monthly application of liquid fish. Day-neutral strawberries aren’t kept for a third year, because yields decrease so much that planting anew is better.

Dave Handley, the vegetable and fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has a good fact sheet about growing June-bearing and day-neutral strawberries at umaine.edu/publications/2067e/. He even has a short, excellent video showing how to grow day-neutral strawberries.