Nothing beats the flavour of a home-grown strawberry picked and eaten warm from the sun. Strawberries are easy to grow and mostly trouble free, requiring a little time and attention to get a crop.
Strawberries are a frost hardy perennial. This means they stay outside all winter and are best planted in a permanent bed. Once you have set out your dedicated strawberry patch, they will withstand our winters and fruit for a few years.
The best time to plant strawberries is in the autumn, but strawberries will grow well planted in the Spring although they may produce less fruit in the first year. Strawberry plants yield fruit best in years 2,3,4 and then usually need replacing. Strawberries prefer good drainage, which makes strawberries ideal for growing in containers (see image below.)
Strawberries have small flowers, usually white or pink (image above) from which the fruits will form. Flowers and fruit are delicate and need protection against dirt splashes and birds. Strawberry fruit is prone to going mouldy if it gets covered in dirty soil splashed up by the rain, and birds love strawberries as much as we do. If not protected, the birds will peck at the fruit, which damages it, and eat the crop. Some form of netting to protect the strawberries is essential, see below.
Growing order for strawberries
- late summer/early autumn cut off a lot of the old foliage, especially any diseased leaves.
- In very cold and frosty areas apply a mulch but take care not to bury the plants, strawberries are prone to botrytis.
- Feed in the spring with high potash feed (such as tomato feed) to encourage flowering. More flowers make for more fruits.
- As soon as the fruits appear, mulch again to prevent the fruit from being splashed.
- Protect with netting/fruit cage.
- During/after harvesting, pot up the runners to make new plants.