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Strawberries Growing Guide

Strawberries quick links

Strawberries Growing Guide

Supermarket shoppers might be accustomed to watery, flavourless strawberries (no wonder given that they’ll have spent days in storage) but it’s hard to beat the flavour of a juicy, mouth-watering crop straight from the plot. Fortunately, they are one of the easiest and most reliable fruits to grow and ideal for raising either in the open ground or in containers on the terrace. Most strawberries produce a single crop between late May and late July and they are classified as early, mid or late season depending on when they ripen during this period. There are also perpetual varieties available, which can be used to extend the season by producing fruits from August to the first frosts.

If you already have strawberries growing on the plot, then there’s plenty that can be done in July. As well as harvesting the tasty fruits of mid and late season varieties, new plants can be produced by pegging the newly-formed runners (trails of growth which spread out over the soil surface) into small pots sunk into the ground. For grow-your-owners who have yet to get started with strawberries, it’s also possible to buy and plant cold-stored runners outside and, because they can fruit within 60 days, you will still get a small but worthwhile crop this autumn.

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Strawberries quick links

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Growing Strawberries month-by-month

January

Keep the ground around your plants free from weeds and remove any debris, such as fallen leaves, as it can harbour slugs and other nuisance pests.

February

For an advanced crop of fruits, now's the time to cover early-season varieties with cloches. Prepare the ground for planting new strawberries.

March

Prepare the ground and plant new strawberry specimens. Give any established plants a much-deserved feed with an organic fertiliser.

April

When cloche-covered strawberries begin flowering, open up the sides of the cover during the day to allow pollinating insects to visit the blooms. Give established strawberry plants a feed if this was not done in March. Plant new strawberries in their beds.

May

Place fresh straw or strawberry mats under the plants. Protect from frost by covering with horticultural fleece. Harvest early varieties from mid-month. Keep well watered and protect from birds. Plant new strawberries in their beds.

Must do this month!
June

Start harvesting mid and late season fruits and keep the plants well watered. Propagate new specimens from developing runners. Plant new strawberries in their beds.

July

Harvest mid and late season fruits and keep the plants well watered. Propagate new specimens from runners. Rejuvenate the plants when they have finished fruiting by applying a good-quality feed. Plant new strawberries outside.

August

Rejuvenate strawberry plants by cutting them back when they have finished fruiting and applying a feed. Harvest the fruits of perpetual varieties. Sever runners that have been rooted in pots from the parent plants.

September

Harvest the ripe fruits of perpetual strawberry varieties. Sever any runners that have been rooted in pots from their parent plants.

October

November

Keep the ground around your plants free from weeds and remove any debris, such as fallen leaves, as it can harbour slugs and other nuisance pests

December

Keep the ground around your plants free from weeds and remove any debris, such as fallen leaves, as it can harbour slugs and other nuisance pests

Caring for your Strawberries plants + problems

For strawberries planted in the open, once they are in the ground it’s essential to keep the area free from weeds and to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out, especially when the fruits are starting to swell. The plants should be given a dose of fertiliser in the spring and again after they have been rejuvenated, as well as being watered regularly (aim to keep the soil damp, but not saturated).

When the fruits appear a few months later, they can be ruined by mud splash and rotting due to contact with wet soil. To help prevent these problems, it’s a good idea to place a fabric strawberry mat (available from Marshalls) around the base of each plant – this will also act as a moisture-retaining mulch.

Alternatively, tuck a few handfuls of fresh straw under each plant and rest the leaves, flowers and fruit trusses on this material.

The young fruits are often targeted by birds, so it may be worth pushing short sticks into the ground in the four corners of the bed (so the tips are just above the top of the plants) and securing bird-scaring tape between them. It will vibrate and ‘buzz’ in the slightest breeze, scaring away hungry tweeters. Strawberry plants growing in containers are more easily protected by simply draping a sheet of netting over the top (something you shouldn’t do with an entire bed because birds will likely get trapped underneath).

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