How to grow strawberries

Strawberries are easy and fun to grow. Plant strawberry runners or young plants in spring or autumn, and you’ll be rewarded with masses of delicious strawberries from late spring. Grow strawberries in a well prepared strawberry bed or planter, in full sun. And add some garden compost.

—How to grow strawberries from runners

Plant bare-rooted strawberry runners in spring or late summer/autumn.
Prepare the soil by digging in well-rotted garden compost and apply a dressing of sulphate of potash fertiliser.Bury their roots, about 30-45cm apart, then firm the soil around. Water well for the first few weeks.
Strawberries are also suited to growing in pots and hanging baskets. Use deep pots at least 15cm wide and plant one strawberry per pot. They thrive in moist but well-drained conditions, so use a soil-based compost with a deep layer of gravel or broken crocks in the base.

—Look after strawberry plants

To encourage flowering and fruit set, feed your strawberry plants with tomato fertiliser (follow the pack instructions) and water regularly. Avoid wetting any of ripening fruits to prevent grey mould.
Tuck some straw around the plants just before the fruit starts to develop. This helps to keep the berries clean and deters slugs and snails.
For next year’s crop, after fruiting finishes, cut off foliage about 5cm above ground level and give plants a good feed with a general-purpose fertiliser.
After three to four years, fruit size and quality declines so you need to replace your plants with new stock.

Once strawberries have been picked, the ripening process stops. So, wait until the berries are fully red before harvesting. Simply pinch through the stalks,avoid bruising the fruit.

As strawberries are perishable, it’s best to eat them straight from the plant, avoid the sun. You can store unwashed fruit for a few days in the fridge. If you’re lucky enough to have a glut, whizz them into delicious smoothies or use to make jam,or freeze them.

-Solve problem
Protect strawberry plants against slugs and snail attacks.
Grey mould can be a problem in wet weather, causing the berries to rot. Water plants in the morning rather than in the evening to give them time to dry out.

——Great types to grow

Summer-cropping strawberries:
• ‘Elsanta’ – heavy cropper with large, tasty, red fruits
• ‘Elvira’ – heavy crops and good disease resistance
• ‘Hapil’ – large glossy fruits, even in dry conditions
• ‘Honeoye’ – prolific fruiter with large, firm berries
• ‘Pegasus’ – sweet, juicy, top-quality berries
• ‘Symphony’ – good yields and fairly pest resistant
Everbearing strawberries:
• ‘Aromel’ – abundant dark red, juicy berries
• ‘Christine’ – sweet fruits that ripen in late May
• ‘Mara des Bois’ – large, deliciously aromatic fruits

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