Homeschool Garden Club – Strawberries

Home-grown strawberries great fun to grow as well being tastier, healthier and much better value than shop-bought fruit. They’re easy to grow in containers, in the ground and even hanging baskets! This classic British fruit is great in season - but the season is coming to the end - so why are we learning about strawberries now?

Basically, now is the time to think about strawberries for next year. They are sold cheaper as bare rooted plants this time of the year, so you can work out where you have gaps in your garden, get a few strawberry plants and pop them in now giving them time to establish and deliver the strawberries next year. As homeschoolers, we are always looking out for ways of reducing the costs of our education. Also, the first week of September is about the last time you should be planting strawberries this year.

Strawberries are typically grown from either small potted plants or bare-root plants. Bare-roots now (cheaper) in pots in the spring (slightly more expensive). Once, again thank you to my NVQ students working at the local garden centres for the information.

When to Plant Strawberries

Strawberry plants can be planted from autumn to May, although winter planting in wet soil isn’t recommended. For best results, plant now, choose sunny, wind-sheltered spots and well-drained soil. I plant them in between the other flowers and vegetables, which seems to stop the birds from finding them before I do. I am going to be planting wild strawberries in the next week or two as part of a swoop with one of our learners for some of my Mashmello variety.

The Different Types of Strawberries

Summer-fruiting strawberries – these have large fruits and a heavy crop over a few

weeks.

Perpetual strawberry plants - these have small fruits, from late May to early autumn and

are often called ever bearers.

Wild strawberries are great bee and pollinator insects and they grow well under other

plants like apple trees.

How to Grow Potted Strawberry Plants

Strawberry plants that arrive as potted plants, usually from late spring, are ready for planting straight away. They can be planted directly into the ground, raised beds or troughs, grow-bags, containers or hanging baskets.

Try not to plant in places that are likely to get frost or in soils that have already grown tomatoes and potatoes as these could carry the verticillium wilt disease.

How to Plant Strawberry Plants

If planting in the summer, you should get your strawberry plants in the ground by the

end of season, before the end of the first week in September; they can also be planed

around mid spring.

Before planting, dig some well-rotted manure into the soil and add fertiliser.

In beds, troughs or grow bags, plants should be placed 16inches (40cm) apart and with

the rows 3ft (1m) away from each other.

Dig a hole deep enough to take the roots (trim them to about 4inches, or 10cm, if

needed) and spread the roots in the hole.

The plant’s crown, which is the part above the roots, should be level with the soil.

Firm the soil back in around the plant and water well. Try to keep excessive water away

from the crown.

Special strawberry fibre mats or straw can be gently placed under the plants once they

grow. This protects them and helps keep weeds away.

Use netting over the plants to work as protection from birds and animals. Add a fleece

cover when there’s a risk of frosty nights.

With perpetual (ever bearer) varieties, remove the first flowers that appear.

Pick the fruit when it’s a rich red all over, ideally at the warmest point of the day.

Plants will generally last for three to four years before needing to be replaced.

How to Grow Bare-rooted Strawberries

Bare-rooted strawberries, also known as runners, are a very popular and great-value way to grow your own strawberry plants. They’re perfect for any new strawberry patches.

Bare-root plants arrive with lots of long roots and with short and stumpy leaves above the crown. They may appear unhealthy, but don’t worry – these plants will soon spring into life and bear lovely crops!

Bare-rooted plants should be planted in late summer or the middle of spring. Prepare

the soil in the same way, as for potted plants.

When runners arrive, remove from the packaging and gently soak the roots in tepid

water for three or four minutes.

Plant using the same method for potted varieties.

Bare root strawberries can also be grown in bags, containers or baskets – just make

sure there’s enough depth for the roots.

Strawberry plants in baskets and pots will need more watering.

When picking the fruit, it’s better to cut or snip off at the stem rather than pull off.

Adding tomato feed, according to pack instructions, is very helpful after you see the first

flowers appearing.

The strawberries we have had the most success with here at the garden club are Marshmello, Malwina and Vibrant. If you can grow all three you will have a supply of strawberries for a much longer season. The Orchard Training Garden Club found this year that we had strawberries from June and now at the end of August we are still picking strawberries.


One warning though - none of them made it to the kitchen.

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