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Let’s Talk About.. How to Grow Strawberries!

Strawberries are one of the most versatile and easy fruits to grow, which is great for those of us who wish to grow our own delicious varieties of one of the most popular British fruits. Thankfully, they’re able to tolerate a wide variety of soil types, from light and sandy to the heaviest of clay soils, so combining this with the fact that they’re simple in their demand of nutrients, strawberry varieties can be found growing all over the world.

They’re also able to survive most and flourish in all weather conditions, from the UK’s cold and wet weather to the extreme heats of Spain, which, seemingly, makes them a hardy fruit that’s a great starter for those of us just starting out in the world of fruit growing. The biggest negative however, is that as a fruit strawberries are subject to a range of diseases and nuisance pests.

How to grow Strawberries

How to grow Strawberries: Strawberries growing in the ground. Photograph by Robin Riat

How to grow Strawberries – So what do you need to know about growing conditions?

Let’s start with the ideal soil. Well-drained, rich in humus with an adequate water supply is the best. Strawberries love a pH level of around 6.5 and prosper best in soil which is weed and debris free. If you want to prepare your garden soil for strawberry growing for the first time, add garden compost at 1 barrow to 4m2. You will also need to add 75g per m2 of bone meal and the same of seaweed meal. If you think your earth is lacking nutrients, add one barrow of well-rotted manure (per 12 m2). You may also want to add 5cm layer of leaf-mould to the top 10cm of soil before planting to encourage healthy growth. In terms of light conditions, strawberries grow best in full sun and out of the direct wind. Remember that officially, planting should occur between the end of June and September.

How to grow Strawberries - What about useful tips and techniques?

  • Lay plants in rows every 35cm. Make sure they have enough room to grow. Keep them approximately 75cm apart.
  • Always pick ripe strawberries; otherwise they will rot and infect other fruit. Prevent this by checking plants every other day once ripening starts to occur.
  • Placing straw (barley) in and between plants will help subdue weeds and stop fruit coming into contact with the ground.
  • Once fruit starts showing, remove all dead leaves and check plants regularly for insects (especially aphids). If signs of infestation, take action with appropriate pesticides.
  • If any plants do not flourish, get rid of them right away, as they’re probably infected with a virus.
  • After cropping, clear up the plant bed immediately. Cut back the plants (leaving a stump of 10cm) and remove all dead leaves and straw. Keep soil watered and at a good pH level to ensure future growth.
  • After two to three yields, be prepared to move your strawberry planting location and start a rotational system, perhaps with a rhubarb crop.

How to grow Strawberries - Useful Tools and Equipment:

In addition to ensuring your soil is suitable for strawberry plants, you can also consider using a range of useful tools & products which will help you get the best out of your efforts.

  1. Strawberry Mats – Fabric strawberry mats can be placed at the bottom of each plant, instead of straw, and will help retain moisture.
  2. Bird Scaring Tape – This tape can be attached to small wooden poles around the plants. It will shake in the breeze or wind, creating a noise to frighten birds and prevent them from snacking.
  3. Hanging Baskets – Growing in these ensures your strawberries are safe and far away from slugs, snails and other soil dwelling pests.
  4. Polythene & Woven Polypropylene Covers – These covers act as protection from insects and other pests and enable the strawberry plants to flourish. Be aware the woven cover will allow water to pass through; however, if using polythene, you will need to find an alternative method to keep the soil and plants watered.

About the Strawberry plant.

Fragaria × ananassa, commonly known as strawberry or garden strawberry, is a hybrid species that is cultivated worldwide for its fruit. The fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. ~ Wikipedia

Credits: Title photograph courtesy of Glen Young