Only Strawberries have the sweet taste of Summer like no other fruit, these mouth watering fruits are a great Summer treat for all the family – loved by adults, loved by children, perfect as part of a breakfast, snack, lunch and dessert, it’s no wonder that they are one of the World’s most popular fruits! But did you know that that Strawberries are also one of the easiest fruits to grow, so why are we all buying expensive shop bought Strawberries when we can grow them in our very own gardens?
Are there different varieties of Strawberries?
Yes, in fact there are 3 main varieties of Strawberries to choose from although I would recommend picking everbearing Strawberries which will allow you to get the most out of your plant and enjoy your Strawberries throughout the Spring and Summer. The 3 varieties include:
June bearing strawberries only provide one large crop of fruit which usually happens in June. If you don’t have the best conditions for growing your strawberries, such as too damp or dry soil, not enough compost or fertilizer or shady conditions then you might be disappointed with the size of crop that you get!
Day neutral strawberries tend to have 3 crops per year, once per month across June, July and August. This isn’t a bad thing as you get to enjoy your fruit across 3 months, and know when it’s time to cut the foliage and provide the aftercare needed to have your plant ready for the next year.
Ever bearing strawberries actually have smaller crops compared to the other varieties but they start to grow fruit as early as late Spring and continue to grow strawberries until the end of Summer making them the perfect variety for the family to enjoy throughout the hole of Summer.
When is the best time of year to grow Strawberries?
If planting strawberry runners or young plants then the best time of year to plant them is in early Spring which should give you plenty of strawberries to pick by late Spring, although you can also plant them in Autumn to have them ready for the next Spring. They love to grow with lots of sunshine, but they can also grow in shaded areas so if you don’t have a south facing garden, don’t let this put you off! The more sunshine they get, the better they grow, but shady areas won’t stop them from growing full stop!
Try to avoid damp or water logged areas as this will cause the roots to rot, so a well drained soil would be best. Try to use compost or horse manure as this will give the nutrients needed to grow the best crops!
How to plant strawberries
Unless you are using a strawberry planter, then the first thing you will need to do is prepare the ground to where you will be planting your new Strawberries by turning the soil over by use of a spade or trowel and removing any weeds or other plants and roots that may be in the way. For best results, be sure to add horse manure or compost when planting.
Traditionally strawberries are planted in rows, unless of course you will be planting them in pots. But don’t forget that they need plenty of space to thrive, so space them approximately 35cm from each other. If planting Strawberry runners, make sure that you spread the roots out and have the crown planted at soil level as this will prevent the runners from rotting!
How to grow strawberries in baskets and pots
One reason that Strawberries are a great choice for many beginners, especially if you are only just starting out with growing your own fruit and vegetables is that they can grow almost anywhere! One great place to grow your strawberries are in containers or hanging baskets, since this will keep them away from snails, slugs and other parasites! If you are starting from an empty basket, then by using all new compost or manure, you should be able to keep the weeds away by being off the ground too!
I wouldn’t plant any more than 3 to 4 Strawberry plants per basket as they will fight each other for sunlight, nutrients in the soil as well as root space in the basket. Hanging baskets will drain the water much more quickly compared to soil in the ground, so be sure to check the moisture in the compost on a regular basis to ensure that its not too dry. The best time of year to plant your Strawberries in a basket, pot or container would be Spring and make sure you use feed and fertilize your Strawberries to get the best crop!
How to look after your strawberry plants
OK so you have used compost or horse manure when planting your strawberry plants, but don’t stop there! The best thing to do is continue to add feed such as tomato fertilizer (usually every 7-10 days) and water on a daily basis, checking that the soil doesn’t get too dry, but making sure that it is well drained too.
Just before the fruit starts to grow, add some straw between and around the Strawberry plants as this will stop the fruit from rotting on the earth when ripe and/if fallen as well as deter weeds from growing and deter slugs, snails and other parasites.
If possible, add some nets to deter animals from eating the strawberries from above ground.
How to harvest your strawberries
It’s very easy when it comes to harvesting your strawberries as compared to some other fruit, it’s easy to tell when they are ripe just by looking at them! Once picked, the fruit will immediately stop ripening so make sure that they are a nice red colour before picking! I like to snip mine with scissors being sure to keep the stem in place, picking them by hand is easy enough, but just be sure to keep the stem in place. Although it is recommended to eat strawberries direct from the plant as they are perishable, leaving the stem intact will help keeping them fresh for longer although keeping them in the fridge will help. Don’t leave your ready to pick Strawberry on the plant for it to rot as this will adversely affect the plant itself.
Providing that proper aftercare if taken, you should be able to use your strawberry plants a good 3 to 4 times over although the crop will reduce in size each year. The best way to encourage the best crop over the next few years would be to cut off the foliage 5cm above the earth once all fruit has been picked, and you are confident that the plant has nothing left to give this year.
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