Who doesn’t love strawberries? They are a great addition to an edible garden and the good news is once you know what they like, there are many different ways to grow them: from vertical and hanging systems to containers and structured beds directly in the garden.
Here are 8 tips to help you grow delicious strawberries at home:
1. Choose the Right Spot
Strawberries need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day during summer when they will fruit. Choose a sunny spot that is still easy to access.
2. Prepare Your Soil
Like most garden plants, strawberries prefer a “loam” soil, made up of roughly equal amounts of clay (i.e. microscopic particle size material); sand (small-grain size); and organic matter (i.e., compost, manure, straw). Strawberries prefer a well-drained soil, rich in humus. About a month before planting dig in lots of organic matter, compost, animal manure.
Avoid soil that has previously grown other berries or members of the tomato family (Solanaceae) to reduce the danger of viral diseases.
3. Ensure Good Drainage & Aeration in the Soil
Strawberries like a well drained soil that has good aeration. This prevents fungal infections such as grey mold from taking over. Raised beds are great for ensuring good drainage. If you are growing in containers, make sure you put varying sized stones at the bottom of the pot to allow excess water to drain through. Remember to collect the water in a tray for insects to drink or to throw back into the pot. You can add some earthworms to your strawberry patch as they are good at aerating the soil.
4. Careful of the Crown
Make planting holes deep and wide enough to accommodate the entire root system without bending it.
Roots shouldn’t be longer than 15-20cm when plants are set out. Trim them if necessary.
However, don’t plant too deep: The roots should be covered, but the crown should be right at the soil surface.
Keep the beds well mulched, to control weeds and keep the fruit clean. Pine needles have often been used as this mulch is acid and strawberries prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 – 6.0. You can also grow a living mulch of clover, which fixes nitrogen into the soil.
5. Companion Planting for Pest Control
There are quite a number of plants that will benefit your strawberries – especially strong smelling herbs that deter pests such as aphids and worms. Take a look at our Strawberry Companions post for a list of friends and foes.
To prevent birds and other critters from eating your strawberries you can cover them with netting, but remember, always stake the netting up to prevent it from getting to warm as this may encourage fungal infections.
6. Encourage Strong Roots
In the first year, pick off blossoms to discourage strawberry plants from fruiting. If not allowed to bear fruit, they will spend their food reserves on developing healthy roots. The yields will be much greater in the second year.
7. Collect the Runners
Every mother plant will give off a runner that produces another strawberry plant. To prevent over-crowding and lower yields, remove the runners and plant them elsewhere. Or give them away to friends and family so they can plant their own.
8. Put Them to Bed Nicely for Winter
Strawberries can last for a few years, giving off more runners for a continued crop. During winter it is best to mulch them heavily to protect them from the cold- especially if there is frost in your area. If they are growing in containers, you can move them to a warmer spot for winter.
Do you grow strawberries at home? We would love to hear your tips.
Till next time,
Shireen and Kathy
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