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Once you?ve got your garden looking just how you want it, the natural next step is to put it to work. Whether you fancy keeping your fruit intake up without having to buy it or simply want to add a splash of colour in amongst the greenery, strawberries can often fit the bill ? which might leave you wondering how to grow strawberries.
Among the best things about them is that they are relatively easy to grow. They?re not overly picky about what they?re planted in or where they are. Nevertheless, they are certainly not a brand of ?set and forget? fruit, and you?ll need to be prepared to put in a bit of work in the couple of months they need before harvesting.
With the tips below, you?ll be off to a flying start and will also know all about the key considerations that may otherwise cause your strawberries to be anything less than perfect.
Get your Strawberry Plants from Reputable Sources
If you?ve grown your own plants from infancy before, your garden may have thrived on cuttings and clippings from friends and neighbours. Doing so keeps the cost down, and the results are often the same as paying for seedlings.
However, among the primary considerations for any budding strawberry grower is the fact that they are particularly susceptible to disease. These diseases can often be hard to spot, and if you don?t have intimate knowledge of the plant?s history, you won?t know whether you?re planting something that is already in a vulnerable state.
The first step in how to grow strawberries is, therefore, choosing the right place from which to get your seedlings and young plants. I would always recommend a reputable store or garden centre, as I?d like to think that they have processes in place to guarantee the integrity of their plants. Specialist retailers also know the tell-tale signs of strawberry diseases ? more on that later on ? and they can make an informed call as to whether to treat the plant or remove it from sale.
Plan for Massive Growth
If a strawberry plant is treated well, you can expect a fantastic fruit yield. The fruits themselves are not that big, but they will be plentiful, so it is vital to select a spot in which to grow them where they have room to work with.
Even with plenty of space, you?ll still want to keep on top of trimming. Not all of the plant is useful to you if your only goal is to grow enough strawberries to eat, and there is no harm in getting rid of some of the extra parts. With that said, you should always keep the age of your plant in mind and react accordingly.
Don?t Get too Attached to your First Plant
Strawberry plants remind me a little of myself in that the older they get, the less productive they become. The growths that you?ll want to trim back as part of the above tips are often younger plants that can survive on their own if planted correctly, and you shouldn?t discard them all.
After two to three years, you?ll start to notice the yield of the original plants decreasing. Assuming you?re not overly sentimental about fruit, this is the time to get out with the old and in with the new.
Disease is your Primary Concern
Strawberry plants are pretty resilient on the whole, but they are just as susceptible to disease as any other plant when not cared for correctly.
Spots, blemishes and lesions on the leaves are the main tell-tale sign to keep an eye out for. They usually indicate either a fungal or bacterial disease, and they can be challenging to come back from. Indeed, even if you make the problem go away, the damage is often done, and you may be better off getting rid of the plant and any recent cuttings and starting over.
Be Careful what you Plant Nearby
Something that really sets a competent gardener apart from a great one is their knowledge of what works well together. That goes for herbs, plants, fruit and just about anything you decide to grow yourself, and any guide on how to grow strawberries would not be complete without mentioning the primary considerations.
Specifically, you do not want to plant strawberries anywhere near tomatoes or potatoes. It?s not that they don?t get on, just that strawberries are not necessarily capable of repelling attackers in the same way as their more robust counterparts.
Potatoes and tomatoes can often attract pests in the soil ? the kind of pests that they can fight off alone. While those commonly seen around these plants, such as verticillium and eelworm, are not there for the strawberries, they are generally happy to take what they can get. You could use pesticides, but I consider it far more comfortable not to get into that situation in the first place.
Where to Grow Strawberries ? In as Much Sunlight as Possible
You probably expected this step. Strawberries wouldn?t taste as good as they do without a helping hand from sunlight, that?s for sure. They won?t complain too much about a bit of shade and the occasional cold temperature, but sunlight always represents a fantastic boost.
At the same time, you want to leverage the natural protection of fences and walls to keep the wind away as best you can. The strawberry plants themselves can generally cope, but the small insects upon which they rely for adequate pollination cannot. Those little critters are working away to help you meet your goals, so it is only fair that you give them a working environment where they can go about their business without catching a breeze and leaving early.
What to Grow Strawberries In
I like to grow strawberries in the ground. Indeed, I like to grow most things in the ground wherever possible. However, it is not the only option and, in some cases, not even the best one.
Strawberry plants feel equally at home in hanging baskets, pots or raised beds. This all adds to the flexibility and increases their reputation as plants that are relatively easy to grow.
How to Grow Strawberries ? Soil Considerations
Along with fighting off disease, your choice of soil can also make a massive difference to your results. Typically, strawberries prefer an alkaline, mineral-rich soil and plenty of it. Make sure to consider downward growth as well as outward growth when planting your strawberries and the right soil will ensure you get the best possible results.
The Best Fertiliser for Strawberries
Strawberries make for hungry plants, and you can expect to feed them fairly frequently rather than just relying on the nutrients in the soil.
I have a couple of options that I favour for this and, as is often the case, specialised choices are generally the best.
- Provides a steady supply of natural nutrients
- Promotes strong, healthy growth
- Apply from Spring throughout the growing season for increased yields
This organic strawberry fertiliser from Vitax has, unsurprisingly given the name, been specifically developed with healthy strawberry growth in mind. It works so well because it is high in potash, which aids plants like this in fruit formation ? and it works well on tomatoes too for similar reasons.
This fertiliser can also work well for those that don?t want to feed and water their plants separately. The liquid nature of the product means that it is diluted with water as standard and you can kill two birds with one stone ? just make sure to read the accompanying instructions for the appropriate dilution amounts before you start.
How to Grow Strawberries with Rose Fertiliser
If you prefer to do your watering separately, you should have your eye on something like Westland Rose Food. Odours aside, horse manure is hard to beat for healthy, strong growth and excellent crops. The slow-release feed provided by Rose Food is also ideal as you can never tell what a temperamental strawberry plant will want and when.
- Enriched with horse manure
- Bigger blooms guaranteed
- Helps to prevent disease
- Enriches & conditions soil
- Adds organic matter
Naturally, Rose Food was not chosen at random ? strawberries are part of the rose family and what works well in the lead up to Valentine?s Day will yield fantastic results in strawberry season too.
Armed with these tips, you can expect a good yield of great-tasting strawberries over the course of just a couple of months from planting. Remember to keep hold of some of the younger plants that grow, as you?ll want to make use of them in the future when the original plants start to slow down in their productivity levels.
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Last update on 2020-12-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API