How To: Grow Strawberries

There’s nothing quite like fresh, organic strawberries straight from the garden. Store-bought strawberries often contain pesticides and are harvested before they are just ripe. Harvesting strawberries at home when they have ripened means they have a higher sugar content which means a richer aroma and more importantly, more flavour!

How To: Grow Strawberries

Varieties of Strawberry

Most strawberry varieties will fall into two categories – summer-fruiting or June-bearing which produce fruit in one go over a few weeks in early summer. In contrast, everbearing or perpetual varieties will give two smaller harvests with the first in early summer and the next towards the end of summer. Lastly, there is a day-neutral variety which will crop on and off throughout the growing season. If you’re an avid strawberry lover then choosing a few of each variety will give you fruits for several months of the year.

Where to Plant Strawberries

Strawberry plants thrive in full sunshine as long as the spot isn’t too exposed to strong winds or hard frosts. In terms of soil type, they prefer fertile, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. You can improve the composition of your soil by adding compost or rotted manure. It’s also crucial not to plant strawberries in the same soil as previously planted potatoes, tomatoes or chrysanthemums as these plants are susceptible to verticillium wilt which is a disease easily passed on to strawberries. 

Strawberry plants will also do well in containers, towers and even hanging baskets making them extremely flexible. Growing them in hanging baskets will help prevent pests from eating your delicious fruits.

How To: Grow Strawberries

How to Plant Strawberries

There are a few options when it comes to planting strawberries. Pots or plug packs are available throughout the growing season. 

When planting, set them apart about 50cm in each direction leaving the crown of the plant at soil level. Be sure to place them in a hole large enough to accommodate the roots and fill in the soil around the roots. Firm into place and water well. 

Plants grown in containers can be planted close together but will require dividing up and replanting after the first season to keep them healthy. Remember to use multi-purpose potting soil and containers with drainage holes.

Looking After Strawberry Plants

As the plants establish water them regularly during the dry season but avoid getting the leaves wet so as to not introduce diseases. Potted plants may need watering more frequently as the soil can dry out quicker. 

In terms of fertilisation, plants will need topping up each spring before they resume growing with a general all-purpose fertiliser. Container strawberries will benefit from being fed as often as once a week when they start to flower with tomato feed as it is high in potassium. 

From early summer it is worth adding a mulch of straw (or mulch mats) in and around the plants before the fruits develop. This helps keep the fruit free from blemishes whilst preventing weed growth and moisture loss from the soil. 

Birds enjoy strawberries just as much as we do. To stop them from snacking on ripening crops it is best to cover the plants with a netting that birds can not get through, whilst still allowing pollinating insects to pass through. To detract slugs from your crops place slug traps filled with beer to distract them from your plants.

Once your strawberries are nice and ripe they can be harvested! Picking them on a sunny afternoon is said to make them more flavoursome. To keep that delicious flavour avoid storing them in the fridge – instead, a cool room will suffice. At the end of the season give the plants a tidy up by removing and straw or mats, digging up weeds and pruning the foliage to leave fresh new growth in the centre. The plants should last you well for around three seasons, at which point it’s time to think about replacing them and planting them elsewhere in your garden. 

If you’re looking for some further guidance on how to grow your own strawberries or purchase some plants, speak to one of our team at Holt Garden Centre.

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