How to Grow Strawberries


Strawberries are one of the best loved fruits. No mailer how readily they are available in the supermarkets, there is nothing quite like wandering into the garden and picking a few to eat there and then. The taste is always better, especially if the fruit is still warm from the sun.

It is now possible to pick strawberries from early summer right through to the first frosts and even beyond, if protection is provided. Strawberries are categorized by their time of fruiting and are known as “early”, “mid-season and “late”, which continue to fruit well into autumn. There are also perpetual strawberries, which produce fruit in summer, have a break and then start again in autumn. If you have space it is a good idea to plan your strawberry bed so that you have as long a productive season as possible. There are also alpine strawberries, which produce very small fruits over a long period. All strawberry plants should come from certified stock to ensure against virus diseases.

Strawberries are not very difficult to grow. If grown in beds they take up quite a bit of space, but they can also be grown in pots or in towers — a series of containers one on top of the other. They can be grown in a greenhouse, which produces earlier and later crops, but the favour is not as good as that of crops grown outdoors.

The plants will remain productive for only about three years, and it is important to have a rolling programme to renew a third of the plants each year. Unfortunately, they really need to he planted in fresh ground, so it is not simply a question of taking out one row and replacing it with another; the new plants should ideally go elsewhere in the garden. Alter­natively you can create a com­pletely new bed in the third year, and abandon the old one immediately after the fruit has been produced.

Cultivation

Straw berries need an open, sunny site. The soil should be fertile and well drained. The plants should be set out in late summer or early autumn, at intervals of 38cm, with each row 75cm apart. As the plants come into fruit the following year, place clean straw under the leaves and fruiting stems to keep the fruit oil the ground. Polythene (plastic) or left mats will serve the same purpose. Deep water during dry periods.

Pruning and training

Straw berries are not pruned or trained as such, but after fruiting it is normal practice to cut off all the old leaves and burn or destroy these, together with the straw mulch, to remove any pests and diseases. Remove any runners as they are formed unless you want keep a few new plants.

Harvesting

Pick the fruit as it ripens. Pick with a short piece of stalk attached.

Storage

The fruit is best eaten straight from the plants, although it can also be frozen or bottled. Unfortunately, frozen strawberries go mushy when they defrost.

Pests and diseases

Birds and slugs are two of the worst problems. Birds can be kept at bay if the plants are netted while they are in fruit. Viruses and grey mould can also be problems. Burn or destroy any plant with viral disease.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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