For summer-ready strawberries, now’s the time to get growing.
Strawberries are easy to grow and care for. Strawberry crowns (the roots and neck of the plant) are now available in garden shops so grab a few and prepare for summer succulence.
Strawberries make perfect container plants and can be grown in almost anything from a wine barrel to a gumboot, so be imaginative in your planting. By following some simple steps you will be rewarded with a flush of this juicy fruit come Christmas.
Step by step
- Make sure your container has drainage holes at the bottom, and fill it with a 50:50 mix of soil and compost – well rotted chicken manure is especially nutritious.
- Make a hole in the soil, carefully tease out the roots so they spread out across the bottom of this hole, and backfill with your soil and compost mix so that the base where the leaves sprout is above the soil.
- Water well and lay a thick mulch of untreated fine wood chips, sawdust or straw over the soil surface to retain moisture and soil heat as well as keep the fruit off the soil.
- Keep soil moist in a spot that is warm and gets as much sun as the winter can provide.
- When the first few flowers appear in spring, nip these out as this improves yield and size of berries later in the summer.
- Continue to water regularly and apply mulch to suppress weeds, reducing watering once berries appear as this will concentrate flavour and sweetness.
At summer’s end, strawberry plants will throw out runners – up to 40cm-long stems with mini-plants on their ends. Cut all the runners off bar the two strongest ones. Lightly press the mini-plants of the two remaining runners into a soil/compost mix in a small plant pot (see picture). These will grow into new plants. Once these potted plants have rooted and matured, snip off the runner stem and you have a new plant for re-potting.
As strawberry plants only produce fruit for three years, this potting-on of runners each year means you will have a continual supply of fruit.