There’s something about the smell of strawberries that conjures up summer. Pretty much everyone loves the rich, fruity taste of these easy to grow berries, and yet a punnet or two can cost the earth. To get the very best flavour from home-picked strawberries, it’s time you grew your own. Plant them now for great results for many years to come.
How to grow strawberries
If you haven’t grown strawberries before it is not too late to start now. You can buy cold stored strawberry runners from a specialist supplier online or pot-grown plants from the garden centre that are ready for planting now.
Order your cold stored runners from a reputable supplier and plant them into strawberry planters or into the garden as soon as possible for a small crop this summer. If you can keep the planter inside a greenhouse until after fruiting, then as long as the bees can access the plants to ensure pollination, you should be harvesting your first fruits a week or so earlier than you would from any plants growing outside. That adds value to your harvest as you are eating them out of season when a similar crop would cost more in the shops.
Providing that you look after your plants, feed them while flowering with a high potash feed (try Flower Power) and then use a general balanced feed after fruiting, they should yield a small crop in their first year. If the plants are weak or there is a delay in planting them out, then it is actually better to remove all the flowers completely and make them direct all their energy into establishing a healthy root system rather than fruit. It’s a tough thing to do but be brave and you will have a bigger and better strawberry crop next year.
Strawberry growing tips
- For the strongest plants and if you are short of space, remove the runners that appear after fruiting, as these will weaken your plants. If you do want to propagate your plants then pick one strong plant each season and allow this plant to form runners that you can pot up and grow on to extend your strawberry patch. The baby plants will be as strong as the parent plant and ensure a good strawberry patch for years to come.
- When the plants have finished fruiting, weed around them plants removing any competition. Using sharp, clean secateurs remove all the old leaves, taking care not to damage the crown. Feed with a general, balanced fertiliser and keep the plants well watered.
- For an organic crop choose to grow your plants in organic, peat-free compost. Feed your plants with an organic feed and deal with pests and diseases without the use of chemicals. Your crop with be fresh and healthy and just think how much more your freshly picked organically grown strawberries would cost to buy in the shops.
Your plants may only produce a handful of fruit this year, but they will be the freshest and tastiest you have ever eaten. If you can resist eating the fruit while you are out in the garden, then experiment with them in the kitchen.
- Just a handful of strawberries are perfect for adding to your morning cereal or slice them up and add them to a fresh garden salad.
- A bowlful is easy to serve with cream, ice cream or a splash of caster sugar. Be sure to serve them at room temperature for their full aroma and flavour.
- For something a bit different, serve them with torn basil leaves.
- Or be really daring and splash them with some quality balsamic vinegar.