Strawberries are a favourite summer fruit, and the ingredient for many popular recipes such as strawberry shortcake. A strawberry dipped in chocolate is delicious!
They can be made into wonderful strawberry jams and jellies so it is very worthwhile to spend a little time to grow your own strawberries in the garden.
The strawberry is the fruit that will give the quickest return in the shortest possible time.
If the ground is well broken up and prepared, strawberries planted in late July or August will fruit the following year and some fruit can be gathered.
For this reason, therefore, we suggest the planting of a strawberry bed as one of the first jobs to tackle.
It is essential to success that plants be obtained from a reputable source, certified as free of any strawberry diseases
Strawberries succeed best in soils that are rich in humus.
Incorporate decayed refuse and sandy material with heavy soils, and cow manure with light ones.
Add well rotted manure at the time of trenching on the lines already described.
Strawberries also respond to potash dressings and are highly susceptible to iron deficiency.
Rake down the surface of the soil on the strawberry bed.
On light soils tread the ground lightly first. Make a sufficiently large hole to accommodate the roots of the plant and plant firmly.
For convenience in culture do not make the beds too wide - 3 to 4 rows not less than 30 inches apart will be ample.
Allow 15to 18 inches between the plants in the rows.
The best time for planting is mid July to mid August, though planting may also be done during autumn or early spring.
After planting see that the plants are well watered.
Use the hoe to aerate the soil and to keep down weeds.
Remove any strawberry runners.
Assuming planting was done during August give the plants a liberal top-dressing with well-rotted manure or composted material some time during the autumn.
Prick over the ground the following season, and as the developed fruits begin to weigh down the truss, bed the plantation with straw to prevent damage to the fruit by dirt in inclement weather.
With late autumn or spring planting do not attempt to fruit the first year, but remove the blossoms to build up good strong plants for fruiting the next season. Remove runners and keep down weeds.
In dry weather give plenty of water and an occasional application of liquid manure.
It is important not to put down a thick layer of straw too early in the season since this will tend to cause more frost damage in cold weather by blanketing the free flow of air upwards from the soil.
Protection against frost can be given by spreading straw lightly over the plants on cold nights but this should be removed during the day.
It will be necessary to net the whole stawberry bed during the fruiting season.
Use a strawberry net or fish netting draped over battens supported on low posts.
When fruit is fully ripe and in a dry condition, cut or pinch off the stalk at the time of picking.
Clean up the beds by removing the straw and all weeds, cut off all runners and trim off old leaves.
Avoid digging the ground but confine operations to hoeing or lightly forking the soi.
In the autumn mulch the plantation as already mentioned.
In due course the strawberries should be grown as a rotational crop in the vegetable garden.
It seldom pays to retain strawberries to grow for more than three years. Successional beds should be propagated.
New stock can be raised from a few healthy plants which preferably have not been allowed to fruit, but it is important to use only those which throw good trusses of flower. This is a more reliable method of propagation than growing from strawberry seeds.
The strawberry runners may be left to grow in the soil, or better, placed in small pots in early July containing a compost of equal parts of loam, peat and sand.
By early August they may be cut from the parent
plants, well-rooted and ready for planting out.
The necessity for healthy stock must again be emphasised and the periodical renewal with certified stocks is urged as being a matter of the greatest importance.
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Expert advice about Growing Strawberries - tips on planting, propagation, cultivation. How to grow Strawberry Plants from runners to produce fruits.