The pinnacle of the British summer – strawberries are the go-to fruit for many as they’re easy to grow, produce vibrant flowers and can last up to 6 years if grown in optimum conditions. If you’re unsure about how to grow strawberries, here is our guide with everything that you need to know.
When is the best time to plant strawberries?
Between late June and the end of September are the best months to plant out your strawberries. You can plant them later than this, but you will miss a season’s fruiting in year one while the plants gather strength and energy.
It’s important to know the best strawberries to grow according to which qualities you need – for example, the Strawberry Delia is a hardier plant, whereas the Strawberry Cambridge is particularly disease resistant and sweet, perfect for jam making!
How to plant strawberries
The key to choosing a location is to avoid water-logging, which will encourage disease and rot. Strawberry plants will thrive when sheltered from the wind, with exposure to full sun, so be sure to find that sweet spot in your garden to plant your seeds.
Begin by removing perennial weeds and digging over the soil. Mix in manure and use a trowel to dig a hole deep enough for the plant to be placed with the crown at the soil level. Be sure to leave a 30 to 35 cm gap between plants.
Finally, water thoroughly.
How to grow strawberries in pots
You can also grow strawberries in a container or a hanging basket. Plant out around five plants together in a basket; water daily, and feed with strawberry fertiliser (tomato fertiliser is great too) every ten days from flowering to harvest.
How to stop pests when growing strawberries
If squirrels and birds prove a problem – eating the fruit before you get a chance to pick it – then cover your strawberry patch with netting.
Straw should be laid down between the plants in order to prevent weeds from growing, and to provide a protective surface for the growing fruit to rest against, should they fall to the ground or grow low.
Put the straw down from late May, the best kind is Barley straw, which is used for its soft and tractable qualities. If the straw is not practical, then polythene sheeting can also be used. We would also recommend that you hoe between the rows and individual plants on a regular basis.
You also need to ensure that you protect from slugs, using whichever anti-slug method you prefer.
As soon as they’re ripe, pick your strawberries – you don’t want to leave them to rot on the plant. Check over your plants every day during the harvesting period, if possible, as the fruit will ripen and redden fast.
Pick carefully to avoid damaging the plant or the fruit, and make sure the star-shaped stalk is pulled away with the strawberry itself.
Strawberry plants are usually kept for two years, as pests can build up and the yield will reduce, although the plants can usually fruit for up to six years.
Through the year
To keep your plants for a good crop in the following year, when the harvesting period is over compost the protective straw and remove old leaves. Leave only the crown with new leaves. Then feed and water well. Pack away the protective netting after the fruit is gone, as birds will eat away any pests which have built upon the plants.
Ready to plant your own fruit now you know how to grow strawberries? Take a look at our strawberry plant collection.