Homegrown Strawberries! Is there anything more British! These beautiful plump jewels are sweet, juicy and abundant! The best part ? Their very easy to grow! Here’s how I Grow Mine…
First a Little Strawberry History!
Strawberries are native to North America and have been cultivated in France since as early as the 1300’s, the french would transplant wild, woodland strawberries into their gardens and establish a healthy Strawberry Patch, providing families with wild strawberries throughout the warmer months.
Strawberries soon found their way to England and in time were widely cultivated here too, thanks in part to King Henry VIII. He had a great fondness for strawberries and cream!
6 Strawberry Facts You Probably Didn’t Know!
1. Not a true Berry– Strawberries actually aren’t true Berries like Blackberries and Raspberries. It might surprise you to know they are actually a member of the Rose family. Did you Know that Strawberries are the only fruit that have seeds on the outside and not the inside…and that’s why, technically, they can’t be considered a true Berry
2. The Sweetest Strawberries- The first Fruits to appear are the sweetest! So snap them up before the birds help themselves!
3. Not Just Red!– Did you know that Strawberries can also be Yellow, Pink, White and even golden!
4. Rich in Vitamin C! – Did you know there is more Vitamin C in Strawberries than there is in Oranges!
5. Strawberry Fear! – Did you know there is something called fragariaphobia? A phobia relating to the irrational fear of strawberries!
6. Roman Healers- Strawberries were once credited in Ancient Roman Medicine as the healer of various ailments, including melancholy, inflammation, fevers and fainting.
Which type of Strawberry to Grow ?
There are three main types of strawberries…
- Summer-fruiting Strawberries – This type of strawberry Plant produces the largest fruits! They have a short but abundant cropping period of around two – three weeks from early – mid summer.
- Perpetual strawberries – sometimes also called everbearers, these strawberry plants produce small flushes of fruit over a longer period. Expect fruit from early summer until the first autumn frosts. Try these…
- Alpine strawberries – otherwise known as wild or woodland strawberries. These plants produce smaller berries intermittently over the summer. The strawberries are usually red, but there are a few hybrid varieties that produce white or yellow berries. Alpines are a no fuss strawberry plant that can mostly be left to its own devices. * Unlike “regular” strawberries, alpine strawberries do not produce runners. They grow in clumps and increase in size as the plant ages.
How To Grow Strawberries!
Bare Root Strawberries
- Bare root Strawberries can be planted anytime after the last spring frosts, or in Autumn before the first expected frost.
- Plant in a full sun position for the sweetest fruits! ** Alpine strawberries thrive in part shade
- Space plants 40 cm apart, in rows around 75 cm apart.
Growing Strawberries from Seed
- Sow indoors, January-March.
- Sow thinly on the surface of a small tray or pot on moist compost.
- Cover with a propagator lid or polythene bag until germination occurs. Germination may take 2-3 weeks
- Transplant into individual pots when seedlings are large enough to handle.
- Plant out in a sunny spot once all risk of frost has passed * Be sure to harden off indoor raised seedlings first
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently. This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
Top Tips for Growing Strawberries
1. A bed of summer-fruiting strawberries can last up to four years if planted into a well-drained, fertile soil that is weed free! Avoid potential disease problems by replacing the plants every 3-4 years and replanting them in a different bed
2. Strawberries love a well drained soil, consider planting them in a raised bed for better drainage
3. Bear in mind that the sweetest fruits are produced when the strawberry plant is planted in a full sun position * The exception is Alpine Strawberries that prefer a light shade position
4. If your able, cover your strawberry plants with netting to keep the birds at bay!
Propagating Strawberry Runners
What are Strawberry Runners?
Strawberry runners (also called stolons) are horizontal stems that grow from the strawberry plant and run along the ground. Each runner produces several “daughter” plants that are attached to the original “mother” plant. A daughter plant will grow new roots where it touches the soil.
We can take advantage of this by planting the runner in the earth and allowing it to root, creating new strawberry plants for next season’s harvest. Here’s how I do it…
- Runners are often produced from young plants from the first year, but these should be cut off and not propagated from for the first two years. Propagation is best performed from year 3 onwards
- The runners produce baby plants or plantlets at the end of each runner and it is from these baby plants that we will grow new strawberry plants.
- The best time to plant runners is after the plant has finished fruiting * Only ever use healthy runners from vigorous, disease-free plants.
- Fill several small pots with moist multi purpose compost and place them around the Strawberry Bed
- In order to make new plants we need to enable the plantlets on the end of the runners to have close contact with the soil in the pots and form a root. Do this by using a u shaped piece of wire to pin the stem and plantlet to the surface of the soil. **** If the plantlet already has roots forming, bury them just below the soil surface
- It is important that you do not cut off the stem from the parent plant just yet, at this stage you must wait for the the plantlet to form a healthy root system (around 4-6 weeks) When this happens simply sever from the parent plant.
When To Harvest Strawberries
Pick strawberries when they’re bright red all over, I like to pick mine during the the warmest part of the day, this is when they’re at their most sweet, tasty and juicy!
How To store Fresh Strawberries
Fresh strawberries don’t keep long once ripe, so eat as soon as possible or store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.
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