Strawberries

Strawberries are not difficult to grow and you can obtain a good picking throughout the season.

Soil.
Most Strawberries do well in rich, medium to heavy loams as long as drainage is provided in Winter. If the drainage is poor the plants are apt to rot. The soil should be well dug and compost or manure should be added at this stage, this will help retain the moisture in the Summer. Phosphates are important so bonemeal and potash can be added in the initial preparation.

Propagation.
Alpine strawberries have small fruits and a prolonged fruiting season, raised by seed and after hardening off planted out in June, they fruit a little in the first year and fully crop in the second.

All the popular large-fruited strawberries are propagated by runners. A few plants can be set aside for propagation by removing the flowers to encourage the production of runners. Restrict these plants to about six runners and remember you could end up with a tangled mess if not controlled properly. You can peg these runners down with a bit of wire in the ground or use small pots. The new young plants should root in six weeks and can then be severed from the parent plant.

Strawberries require an open sunny site and plants should be set out in late summer or early Autumn, 15in intervals with rows 30in apart.

Growing Season.
The main season is June / July but early and late varieties are available, as well as perpetual which crop from July to October.

They will remain productive for about three years, so a rolling programme to renew a third of your plants each year should be put into practice. Similarly your bed position should be moved after three years.

Care and Harvesting
Place clean straw, plastic or pads under the leaves and fruiting stems to keep the fruit off the ground, water well in dry periods. Remove any runners that are not required. Check nets for damage and the area for slugs. After fruiting cut off all the old leaves and burn together with the straw, this is to remove pests and diseases.  

thewimbledon_1.gif (138059 bytes)    My Strawberry Bed. I call it the 'Wimbledon' for three good reasons. (click image to enlarge140Kb )

My son not only loves Strawberries, he loves working in the Garden. So one of my tasks was to construct a purpose built bed. I did give it some thought, in fact I made this one of my priorities in my second year.

There were factors I had to consider 

  1. His size, he was only 6 years old.

  2. The crops need protection, so removal and re-attaching of netting had to be easy and fool proof.

  3. Access for maintenance and of course picking the produce must be reachable, even for a Child. 

I never had any success in protecting the raspberries, the birds always won and my son didn't like them anyway, too seedy. So the area was easily located, the raspberries had to go, the wood ( half round timber ) could be used for the Strawberry bed. The netting had to be durable and pond netting fitted my needs for this. How do I attach the netting ? Easy, I threaded nylon cord through the squares ( to share the load ) of the netting on all four sides, this allowed me to tie 'knicker elastic' (if I can use that term) and rubber bands that the postman always seems to leave on my wall. I then screwed cup hooks on the outside of the framework for the elastic to attach to easily.

Well what's it like in practice, great. No need to remove all the netting in one go, this can be done in stages and re-attaching when finished. The bed measures 12ft by 5ft 6 so for access to the centre he can lay a plank across the top of the framework. All I needed was the plants, well my kind gardening neighbour provided them. Total cost to build and plant, less than 5.00.