Why on earth am I putting straw under my growing strawberries you may well ask? As the strawberry fruits start to develop and weigh heavy on the stems, tucking straw underneath the plant stops the fruit from sitting rotting on damp soil. As an added bonus, the straw will also help to suppress weeds and retain moisture and heat in the soil.
Strawberries are incredibly easy to grow and can be grown almost anywhere: in borders, raised beds, pots or hanging baskets as long as they are in full sun for most of the day. As a quick guide, here are some top tips for successfully harvesting a bumper crop of strawberries:
- add as much manure to your strawberry patch as possible as early before planting as you can
- scatter a general fertilizer like Fish, Blood & Bone over the soil a few days before planting
- water frequently while new plants are establishing – strawberries are shallow rooted plants so can dry out quickly
- water during dry periods in the growing season but try to water at the base of the plants as water from overhead can rot the crown and fruit
- as soon as the flower buds appear, feed strawberries with a high potash liquid fertilizer, like a tomato feed, every 7-10 days
- tuck straw underneath the plant if you are growing in a border or raised bed, before the fruit develops so the new fruit does not rot on the soil.
- ripe strawberries are normally ready to pick four to six weeks after the plants blossom
- when all the fruits have been picked and enjoyed, chop off all the foliage from Summer-fruiting strawberries. Remove the mulch of straw too to allow air to circulate and to prevent a build-up of pests and diseases.
- strawberries will produce runners – long stems which come out of the plant horizontally – and these are baby plants which will put down roots and grow on as new, individual plants. You should remove these unless you want to have lots of new plants as they weaken the mother plant for next year’s harvest. I chop off the runners on alternate years and let them grow into new plants every second year to keep up the stock of strawberry plants.
- in early Spring, apply general fertiliser again before the cycle starts once more
Strawberries are extremely easy to grow and need no other specialist knowledge or attention. Have a go and you will reap the juicy rewards when you pick a fresh strawberry right from your garden, and pop it in your mouth, or in your glass of fizz!