John Lennon dreamed about fields of them – and can you blame him?
Arguably the most delectable fruit known to home gardeners is surprisingly one of the easiest to grow as well. Though I’m still unsure as to why I nurture my strawberry plants because either their fruit shrivels and disappears upon ripening or my children are feasting at my expense. I’m tending toward the latter.
Nevermind, at least someone is benefiting from these wonderful fruits.
I’ve always grown strawberries, experimenting with different varieties and techniques hoping to achieve better results each year. And bit by bit my success is slowly improving. Yet I find my biggest distraction is comparing my yields to those in the local supermarket. I’ve had to console myself that unless I give my strawberries the attention and “cotton-wool” treatment they receive from professional strawberry growers, they will always look second-class.
But that’s okay. They taste better than those bought from the shop.
So what have I learned about growing my own strawberries?
- Insects love them. Especially the two-legged variety who fight over the TV Channel and dirty the bathroom.Aphids and Slater beetles are also particularly notorious and while most advise using some sort of chemical repellent or spraying your fruit, I’ve found that by keeping them up off the ground in a container or hanging pot can almost halt most infestations.
- Keeping strawberries from coming in contact with the soil has the added bonus that they’re given more space for airflow. This way they ripen more evenly.
- After 2-3 years strawberry plants slow down in production so it’s time to start again with some new runners. Accept this as a positive option to try some new varieties.
- Allowing too many runners to be produced is bordering on ‘evil’. Firstly, it means that the strawberry plant is putting all its energy into producing these rather than yielding fruit. Second, if too many runners are allowed to grow in the same bed it restricts the availability of nutrients and crowds the plants ability to grow.
- If you have to grow them in the ground, mound the soil and cover with some gauze matting. Don’t use black plastic unless you live in a cold climate and you want the soil to heat up otherwise it will become unbearable for your strawberries and they will struggle.
- When planting strawberries, always leave the crown just above the surface otherwise the plant will rot.
Finding a variety that will grow in your garden is as easy as finding a neighbour who is keen to let you dig up a young runner.
There are also usually a few varieties available from your nursery at the start of spring.
Do you have any preferred varietals? Any tips that I didn’t mention here? Share your thoughts in the comments below…