It’s a bright September morning, and we’ve just picked a quart of Seascape day-neutral strawberries from our garden. They’re big, juicy and super sweet.

We’ve been picking strawberries from 50 plants every week since June. Sometimes we leave the garden with a pint of berries. More often we harvest one or two quarts. Jars of low-sugar strawberry preserves line our freezer, plus bags of frozen berries for shortcake in winter.

Needless to say, I’m nuts about day-neutral strawberries. They’re tasty as the best June-bearing kind. And they do more than produce all summer. Our berry plants keep right on fruiting until temperatures drop below 35 degrees.

“You have strawberries this time of year?” our neighbor asked incredulously, as we give her an extra quart last week. “What are you feeding those plants?”

The answer to her question is compost and plenty of water, but that’s not the reason why day neutral strawberries keep producing all season. That has to do with their reaction — more properly, their lack of reaction — to day length.

It’s an interesting quirk that sets them apart from June-bearers.

Single crop June-bearers respond to shorter days of late summer by setting fruit buds for next spring’s crop. Those buds put out a lot of berries, as everyone knows, just before Independence Day and for the next three or so weeks. Then June-bearers quit producing for that calendar year.

Day-neutral strawberry plants, alpine hybrids that appeared in Maine nurseries and catalogues a few years ago, don’t have the day length connection. They make strawberries for you anytime the temperature is between 35 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Day-neutrals are the berries you see in Maine supermarkets in winter. They come from Mexico, California and Florida. They’re good to eat but — like many fruits and vegetables — they taste a lot better out of your garden.

Growing day-neutral strawberries is a little different (easier, I think) than care of their one-crop cousins.

If you want to enjoy day-neutrals next summer, begin now by selecting the part of you garden best for strawberries. They like full sun and well-drained soil with a pH of around 6.2. They’re said to do best in sandy loam, but they’ve performed well in our clay soil, to which I’ve added a truckload of purchased compost.

A couple of important precautions: Don’t plant strawberries — day-neutral or June-bearers — in recently tilled grass or weed-infested areas. Grubs and cutworms hidden among roots of weeds and grasses will attack your plants. Rototill this fall to help eliminate perennial weeds.

It’s also important, when selecting a future strawberry garden, to avoid areas where tomatoes or potatoes have recently grown. Those two crops, and strawberries, share some of the same diseases.

winter, get ready for planting by scouting for sources of day-neutral plants. Some of the best day-neutral varieties for Maine are Seascape, Tribute and Tristar. These varieties or other good ones will be available early next spring at Skillins, Allen Sterling & Lothrop and other nurseries.

For catalog purchase from Maine growers, look for day-neutral strawberries at Fedco and Johnny’s Selected Seeds. You may see ever-bearing strawberry plants listed instead of or along side day-neutral varieties. They are closely similar. Some ever-bearers such as Ogallala make great eating, and are very hardy.

Plants should be set in the ground as soon as soil is thawed and workable next spring. If you can’t plant them right away, store them in the refrigerator. Don’t let roots dry out.

Set strawberry crowns 15 inches apart in rows 30 inches wide. Set the plants no deeper than they grew in the nursery. Roots should extend vertically, spread slightly. Water immediately and water regularly, especially during the first critical weeks.

Remove blossoms from day-neutral strawberry plants until July 1. Then watch them produce!

What to do with runners that nearly all strawberry plants — day-neutrals and June-bearing — put out? There are different systems for managing runners, as you will see if you consult a garden encyclopedia or online strawberry site. As for me, I remove all runners. That approach seems to throw energy to the “mother” plant that, in turn, grows lots of big strawberries.

For winter protection, cover strawberry rows with three or four inches of straw (not hay) just before the ground freezes hard. Pull it back bit by bit early next spring so plants can poke through.

After two seasons of production, remove roots and replant. Some sources recommend treating day-neutral strawberry plants as annuals, allowing them just one growing season before removal.

Growing day-neutral strawberries is fun. After years of thinking we have just a few short weeks to pick and eat this delicious fruit, it’s a great novelty to enjoy your own garden-grown organic grown strawberries month after month.

Lloyd Ferriss is a writer and photographer who lives in Richmond.