At a glance
Ease of Culture: Easy
Best Climate: cool, temperate and subtropical
When to plant: Autumn subtropics, spring temperate and cool
First harvest: 12 weeks from planting
Prune: to remove runners when fruiting
• Strawberries will thrive from subtropical to cool temperate areas.
• They flower and fruit in cool to warm conditions
• The best season for fruiting in the subtropics is winter to early summer and spring to autumn in cooler areas
• Strawberries grow best in full sun, but will benefit from afternoon shade in areas with hot summers
• Strawberries will grow in a range of soils, but prefer a deep, friable loam that is rich in organic matter
• Dig in plenty of compost or well-rotted manure and mound the soil to improve drainage
• They prefer an acid to neutral pH. If your soil is alkaline, add powdered sulphur.
• If growing in pots, use a good quality potting mix with some slow release fertiliser added. Add additional compost and coir peat to help retain moisture.
• Strawberries can be affected by a number of serious virus diseases that will reduce plant vigour and production. Be sure to buy plants that are certified virus free from a reputable supplier.
• New plants can be propagated from runners that appear on healthy plants grown at home. Replant new runners every two years to maintain vigorous productive crops
• 10-20 plants will keep an average sized household in reasonable supply of fruit
• Strawberries are planted April/May in most areas, but can be planted anytime you see them in the nursery
• Plant runners 30cm apart in rows 75-100cm apart. Strawberries can be planted in double rows 30cm apart to maximise space in the garden.
• Don’t bury runners too deep or they will rot. Set the crowns at soil level.
• Surround plants with a mulch of straw. This will help to conserve moisture and inhibit weed competition as well as keep fruit off the soil and reduce fruit spoilage.
• Water plants regularly. Never let them dry out, particularly when they are forming fruit
• Water more frequently in pots and baskets
• Before planting, apply a good handful of blood and bone along with a good pinch of sulphate ammonia per square metre
• Add more fertiliser every 2-3 months
• Plants will benefit from a fortnightly application of diluted seaweed extract
Runners that develop from the main plant during the fruiting stage compete for moisture and nutrients, and ultimately reduce yield. Remove them as they appear during fruiting. These can be potted up to create new plants.
• Pick fruit from the plants when fully coloured
• Excess harvest can be stored in the fridge for a few days or made into a delicious jam.
I have wonderful memories of the strawberry season when my mum would make jam and the whole house would be taken over by the aroma.
There is something wonderful about ice-cream cakes. This one is a layer of cheat’s strawberry ice-cream sandwiched with orange-scented pistachio meringue. It makes a wonderful dessert for any summer celebration.