Growing your own food is great, you know where it has come from and what has gone into it, even if it is a little bit of sweat, blood and tears. Strawberries are one of my favourite things to grow because they are so easy and I am sure they always taste better because I grew them.
I actually didn’t buy my strawberries but trimmed some runners off my Mum’s strawberries after a Sunday Lunch in the garden. I chucked them in a carrier bag and into the car they went. Of course I forgot about them by the time I got home and two days later I found them very limp and not looking too good. I chucked them on the flower bed in a hurry to go out and finally watered them a couple of days later. The poor things really didn’t get a good start and I had very little hope for them, given the lack of love they had received. Well those tough little things grew and grew. I had a wonderful harvest from them for a couple of years until I moved. This is just testament to how easy they really are to grow.
Strawberries, can be grown from seed it takes about a year before they produce fruit good enough to eat. So purchasing plants or taking runners is the quickest way to get a fruit crop.
TOP TIP: About 20–30 plants provide enough fruit for a family.
Strawberries are ground-hugging, herbaceous plants, about 15cm high and spreading into a clump 50–100cm wide. Prior to planting, dig over the soil to remove weeds and any large clumps, and add in plenty of compost or animal manure.
Position your plants about 30cm apart, in full sun. Strawberries do best in well-drained soil, so plant them into soil that has been mounded up slightly. The crown of the plant, which is the swollen stem base, must be left at the surface of the soil and not buried too deep.
Strawberry pots are also great, they prevent the strawberries from touching the ground and spoiling. I have even seen people plant strawberries in their hanging baskets, genius way of keeping them out of the way of garden critters.
Care and Maintenance
Water well, especially when the young plants are establishing, and during dry summers.
TOP TIP: Surrounding each plant with a layer of straw mulch will stop the fruit from spoiling by touching the soil.
To feed your mini berry farm, sprinkle a small handful of complete fertiliser (such as tomato food, which is high in potash) around each plant as it comes into first flower, and water well.
The berries are best picked when three-quarters red. Cutting the stem just above the fruit will help to prevent bruising from occurring.
The fruit ripens quickly so you will want to be checking on a daily basis for ripe fruit. This will also help to ensure you are first in the queue because many common garden critters love strawberries and will happily steal your berries. Make sure you remove any fruit that has gone bad or been half eaten as soon as you spot it to prevent it from ruining the rest of your crop.
- Before planting, dig over the soil, adding an organic compost or manure.
- They like to be in full sun, 30cm apart and in well-drained soil.
- Water well, especially in young plants.
- Placing straw around them, prevents the fruits from touching the soil & spoiling.
- As they flower you can use a complete fertiliser (such as tomato food).
- Harvest when the fruit is ¾ red, using scissors to prevent bruising the fruit.
- Keep your eyes peeled as they ripen quickly and you have to beat the other garden residents to them.
Hopefully you will all be harvesting your own sweet strawberries in no time at all.
|When to Plant*:||Seeds: Indoors Jun, Jul, Aug and store bought plant, outdoors May, Jun, July|
|Where to Plant:||Sunny, well-drained soil|
|Soil PH:||5.0-6.0 is best|
|Harvest:||From seed-1 year, from store bought plant-11 weeks.|
|Compatible:||Best in a bed on their own|
|Incompatible:||If using rotation beds avoid putting where you have previously grown tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplant to avoid disease.|
*Based on Temperate Australian Climate
- Strawberry plants decline in quality so need replanting after a couple of years.
- The average strawberry has 200 seeds.
- They are a member of the rose family.
- The red “berry” is actually an enlarged flower stem not the fruit. The little yellow “seeds” covering the outside of the surface of the strawberry are really small, single seed fruits called achenes.
- In France, Strawberries were thought to be an aphrodisiac. A soup made of strawberries, thinned sour cream, borage, & powdered sugar was served to newlyweds.
N.B. This article has been written for Australian gardens. If you're reading this from around the world, we do hope you've found it a useful stepping stone for your own further research.