How to Grow Your Own Strawberries

Category Garden Published 3rd March 2017 by Phil Mann

How to Grow Your Own Strawberries

Growing strawberries is simple, they only need some sun, some shelter, and fertile, well-drained soil. Why not try our special set of 20 x Strawberry Summer Runners to get you started?

Everybody loves strawberries and there's never been a better time to grow your own. They're fast-growing, last several years and can be planted in soil, planters, bags, baskets, gardens, greenhouses, balconies… practically anywhere.

Supermarket strawberries can be very expensive, but they're so easy to grow at home you don't need to shell out to get this delicious summer treat. Perfect for picnics, Wimbledon and Eton Mess dessert, all fresh from your own garden. The same strawberry plants will product fruit for up to four seasons before they need replacing.

When to Plant and When to Pick

If you have plenty of space, or you're planning on a strawberry feast, growing rows of early, mid and late season strawberries will maximise your crops, but otherwise strawberries are best planted in the Spring or Autumn. They'll keep producing fruit for up to four years, but rotating your crop is best to prevent bugs and disease from spreading.

The pretty white springs flowers turn into delicious strawberries. Pick as early in the morning as you can as the fruit is the most juicy.

Pick the strawberries carefully, complete with their stalks and green calyxes – don't tug them off the plant – and handle them with care so that they don't bruise. It's best to check for berries to pick daily.

Pick strawberries when they've turned bright red all over. Eat as soon as possible as they go bad quickly once off the vine.

Grow Conditions

Strawberries grow quickly in the sun, but they like a little bit of shade, too. Strawberries can be grown in a wide range of soils, from light sand to heavy clay.

They can also be grown in hanging baskets to keep them off the ground.

As the fruit starts to grow, tuck some straw underneath the berries to prevent them from rotting from the damp earth. Straw (or special matting) will also help to stop weeds.

Strawberries in containers can also be grown in an unheated greenhouse, which makes them come to fruition about 10–14 days early. In a heated greenhouse or conservatory, you can bring forward flowering by several weeks, just keep the temperature under 16°C (61°F). You may need to hand-pollinate the flowers in this case as the insects won't be ready yet.

As soon as the flowers finish, the first tiny green strawberries fruitlets start appearing. At this stage weed thoroughly, then sprinkle slug pellets.

After cropping has finished, remove the old leaves from summer-fruiting strawberries with secateurs or hand shears to about three inches above the ground. This seems very short but it prevents nasty diseases, exposes bugs to be gobbled up by birds and improves soil health. Also remove the straw mulch, fibre mat, or black polythene, to prevent this build-up of pests and diseases.

How To Plant

  • Prepare the soil by digging it over, pulling out any perennial weeds and adding manure
  • Plant 45cm apart in well-drained fertile soil
  • They prefer a sunny and sheltered position in fertile, free-draining soil
  • When planting your strawberries give them plenty of space for better cropping and easy access
  • Plant strawberries 45cm (18") apart and in rows spaced 75cm (30") apart.
  • Use a trowel to dig a hole big enough for the roots
  • Plant in fertile soil, with added shredded horse manure or garden compost.
  • Prepare the soil well; fork in well-rotted organic matter and a handful of general-purpose fertiliser, such as blood, fish and bonemeal, per square yard/metre. You can add more fertiliser or compost every few months.
  • Make sure the crown of the plant is resting at soil level, planting too deep and they'll rot, plant too shallow and they'll dry out.
  • Avoid soils that has previously grown potatoes, tomatoes or chrysanthemums if possible as they can share diseases.
  • Avoid windy sites which will deter pollinating insects.
  • Strawberry plants can be grown under a tunnel cloche (cover) to produce an earlier crop by up to seven to 10 days. Place the cloche over the plants in early Spring, but remove when the plants flower to give pollinating insects access.
  • For a 15" hanging basket it's best to only grow three to five strawberry plants so they don't compete too much for light, nutrients and water, which will ultimately reduce cropping.

Watering

Water frequently while new plants are establishing. Also water during dry periods in the growing season. Water from the bottom as water from overhead can rot the crown and fruit.

Avoid watering after flowering if possible, since damp conditions will encourage grey mould and rotten fruit. If a dry spell makes watering essential, do it first thing in the morning so that foliage and developing fruit dry off quickly.

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