How to Grow Strawberries
Frost is the first thought when considering where to grow strawberry plants in your garden. They are very hardy plants during the winter but are not so hardy when they burst into life in spring. Strawberries produces flowers early in the Spring and because they are close to the ground, it is important to position strawberries where they have least risk of frost. The highest ground is always the best. Frost damage when they start into growth will occur if the temperature drops below -2°C or -4°C with cloche or poly-tunnel protection.
Strawberries are ideal fruit for benefiting from the use of cloches to produce earlier and better fruit. Click here if you want to buy cloches online from our approved suppliers. Alternatively, click here to go to our in depth article on how to select and use cloches with specific details on how and when to use cloches on strawberries to produce earlier and better fruit.
The next considerations are sun and wind - grow them in the sunniest position in the garden and in the least windy. Too much wind and insects will be unable to pollinate the plants. One tip, don't plant strawberries where peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes have been grown - these plants could pass on verticillium wilt, a serious strawberry disease. Neither should strawberries be grown on land which has recently had grass growing on it - there will undoubtedly be a large number of wireworms on such land who will enjoy eating your strawberries long before you get your chance!
Strawberries grow very well in raised beds. The soil retains the moisture that they so love but at the same time there is no waterlogging. Strawberries in particular start to rot in waterlogged conditions.
Where a raised bed is used, feed the soil with liquid tomato fertiliser every two weeks.
How to Grow Strawberries - Soil and Planting
Strawberries do not produce deep roots, but they very much appreciate their soil being well-dug to a spades depth. Prepare the soil at least one month before planting. Incorporate as much organic matter as possible and include two handfuls of bonemeal per square metre (yard). A few days before planting apply the recommended dose of general fertiliser such as Growmore. Strawberries are greedy feeders over a relatively short period of time.
Care for Strawberries - Protecting the Fruit
As the fruit begins to develop, their weight will cause them to lay on the ground. Before this happens (but no earlier than necessary), cover the soil around the plants with either straw or black plastic. Where plastic is used, it can be kept in place with stones - small holes should be made in the plastic to allow drainage and stop water gathering on it. The plastic or straw will prevent the fruits from lying directly on the soil which will rot them.
If you have a bird population in your garden, the plants should be protected (when the fruits begin to swell) with light weight plastic netting. This should be held clear of the plants by tying it to short wooden posts and securing the netting to them.
Wire mesh can also be used, held in place by canes at either corner.
A more permanent and effective solution to bird damage of many fruits is a fruit cage.
Strawberry Diseases and Pests
The major pests and diseases of strawberries are aphids, red spider mite, slugs, powdery mildew and botryitis.