Luscious Strawberries .

Strawberries are one of the easiest and quickest fruit crops to grow. They produce an abundance of sweet tasty fruit for little effort and you just can’t beat eating strawberries straight off the vine.

They will fruit for several years, but for bigger and better produce it's best to treat them as annual. The plants get old and tired and they usually do not give the same performance in the second and subsequent years.

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Soil preparation is really important, especially for fruiting plants. Use plenty of compost or Dalton’s Garden Mix which is ideal for the Vege patch. This provides a well worked soil for the strawberries to spread out in.

Plant them at 15 - 20cm intervals. A warm sheltered site will help produce early berries and you should try and protect the flowers against frost as it can prevent fruiting from occuring .
It's important when planting not to bury the crown. Keep the crown, which is the part just below the leaves, above ground level to prevent rotting and die back.

As the fruit begins to develop it pays to use a good layer of straw around the plants. This acts as a weed suppressant and mulch. It also means the fruit will sit on top of the straw and be less likely to rot as they are not in contact with wet soil.

Apply more fertiliser in spring as this encourages sturdier plants, better fruit colour and quality and helps with disease resistance. There are special strawberry fertilisers on the market, but you can also use a liquid form. It is also important to make sure they are getting enough water over this time otherwise the fruit will be underdeveloped. Birds love the fruit so either get in quick and pick the fruit regularly or cover the plants with a suitable netting or cloth.


Making new plants

During the summer the strawberry plants will send off runners which become new strawberry crowns. For the first year you want to remove all the runners so that all the growth goes into the main crown and produces even more fruit.

strawberry-beauty-shot1.jpgIn the second year you should allow the runners to develop as they will become your new plants for next year. Once the runners have rooted in and formed a new crown you can remove them and replant. At the end of the season you should remove the original crown and dump.
The runners become your new season crowns and you can start the process again.


Strawberries can take up a lot of room but you will be surprised how much fruit comes off only six plants. If you don’t have the room in the garden for a strawberry patch consider growing them in terracotta towers or in the strawberries pouches which can be hung from a hook or against the fence. Another great way of having strawberries in the garden is to use hanging baskets, just make sure they are well watered.