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Strawberries

 

Ease of Growing  [Scale 1-5] - 2 (Easy/Medium)

How Time Consuming

Relatively low during the growing season but a bit of time in the autumn if you want to propagate the runners.

Recommended Varieties

  • 'Elvira' - a heavy cropper producing large, soft fruits from June to early July.
  • 'Hapil' - high-yielding variety with large, bright red fruits from early to late July.
  • ‘Cambridge’ – probably the most well know variety, reliable cropper in all conditions. Good for jams & preserves.

Home Grown Vs Supermarket

Like many fruit strawberries start to deteriorate once picked so there is not much more satisfying than growing your own home grown strawberries.  If it’s quantity you need and you haven’t got the space to grow them buy them from farmers markets or pick your own, avoiding packaging.

Best Sites and Soils

Plant into well-drained, fertile soil free from weeds.  Strawberries will thrive in sunshine but will tolerate light shade.  
Strawberries are easy to grow in containers such as strawberry pots, growbags, hanging baskets, troughs and tubs. Organic peat-free multipurpose compost is preferable.  

When to plant

Plant early autumn (under cloches) or mid-spring outside.
New plants can be propagated in late summer by inserting individual runners into pots.  Sever the new young plant from the parent plant after a few weeks when rooted.
Strawberry plants usually last for up to 4 years but to avoid disease build-up, move to a different site every 3 years.
Distance between rows - 1m (3ft) for weeding and harvesting.
Distance between plants - 40cm (16”) apart.

When to harvest       

Harvest mid summer when fruits are ripe and ready.

Meet the Author: Jo Blackwell

Jo Blackwell is new on the Harrod Horticultural block and has recently taken over her post as Horticultural Advisor and Kitchen Gardener in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden. She first caught the gardening bug when she bought her first home 18 years ago.  Her first greenhouse soon followed and she later gained an allotment, where she grows her own organic fruit and vegetables.

 

Further Information

Improving Soil / Feeding -  Enrich the soil before planting with well rotted manure, either organic matter or a general fertiliser such as Growmore {link} this will help to produce good yields.
Little feeding is required however potash can be applied at the end of January to encourage fruit to form.
If plants are growing poorly add a general fertiliser such as Growmore {link} take care to avoid the crown of the plant.

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Guide to sowing and planting - Crowns should be at soil level. When planting out the crowns  place straw or strawberry mulch mats underneath to protect the growing fruit from wet soil and water splashes.

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Problems to look out for - If frost is forecast, protect the early flowers overnight with horticultural fleece.
Nets will be needed to prevent birds stripping the fruit, the nets can be removed after harvest to allow the birds to feed on the remaining pests.
In Stephanie’s Kitchen Garden we had problems with mice this year taking the fruit and storing them in piles in the corner of the raised bed – so we will be placing more humane mouse traps out next spring.

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How to harvest by type - When fruit has been harvested cut foliage back to 4” above the crown to allow the new leaves to come through alternatively leave until the next spring to protect the overwintering plant but cutting the old foliage out will be harder because new growth will be coming through.

Storing - Strawberries do not store well so eat as soon as possible.

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