Strawberries are one of the easiest fruiting plants to grow and it is certainly a treat to feast upon these sweet delights picked fresh from the garden
Strawberries are ground-hugging, herbaceous plants, growing to about 15cm high and spreading into a clump 50–100cm wide. Their flowers are simple, five-petalled blooms that are pollinated by bees. These white or occasionally pink flowers are followed by succulent red fruits. Each clump sends out long thin runners (or stems) that take root to form a new plant.
There are many varieties available to grow, but here at Limberlost we grow the Australian-bred variety – Lowanna – a day neutral variety that will fruit almost year round when temperatures are consistently between 20 – 30°C. Strawberries can be grown in pots, containers, hanging baskets as well as in garden beds.
In pots and containers
When planting strawberries in pots, containers and hanging baskets always ensure that a premium quality potting mix is used. A 30cm – 40cm size growing is suitable to grow up to 3 strawberry plants. Choose a sunny position. Because the strawberry fruit trails from the main part of the plant, these remain clean and are less likely to spoil when grown in containers.
In the garden
Prior to planting, dig over the soil to remove weeds and any large clods, and add in plenty of ActiveGrow, and feed monthly with Organic Xtra, as they are hungry plants that need consistent nutrients and water.
Position your plants about 30cm apart, in full sun. Strawberries do best in well-drained soil, so plant them into soil that has been mounded up slightly. The crown of the plant, which is the swollen stem base, must be left at the surface of the soil and not buried too deep.
Care and maintenance
Water well, especially when the young plants are establishing, and during dry weather. When planting in the garden, surround each plant with a layer of straw mulch so the fruit does not spoil by touching the soil.
Strawberries in the garden should be fertilised with a small handful of a fertiliser high in potassium around each plant as the first flowers are forming, and water well.
Those strawberries being grown in containers should be fertilised fortnightly with a high potassium liquid fertiliser such as Triple Boost Fruit & Veg that is formulated for fruiting plants. Fertilise throughout the fruiting season.
For the fullest flavour from home-grown fruit, pick the berries at the right degree of ripeness. They are at their best when each fruit is three-quarters red.
Watch closely as the fruit ripens quite quickly and can deteriorate or be eaten up by other creatures that share your garden. To avoid bruising ripe fruit, harvest it using scissors and leave a small piece of stalk attached.
Strawberry plants send out runners. These modified shoots can be used to propagate new plants but if you don’t need new plants, cut these runners off.
After about four seasons the strawberry plants will become less productive and should be replaced with new certified plants from the garden centre.