Strawberries are quite hardy and are easy to grow in patio pots or bags. Beds or borders in the garden work best if you have enough space.
How to grow strawberries: month after month
The best strawberry varieties
How we try strawberries
In the fall we bought six dormant plants of 12 strawberry species. We planted these six plants in two growth bags, three in each bag. We had to use a growth bag as our previous test facility in Capel Manor, North London, was affected by Verticillium Wilt, a fungal infection in the soil, so we could not replant in that area. In the spring, the plants were well rooted. We have set up a fruit cage so that the birds cannot help themselves to ripe fruit. We recorded the harvest of each species in the first year, then the plants were cleaned and the trunks removed in the fall. Each crop was weighed again in the summer of the second year and evaluated in terms of quality and taste.
Where to plant
Having the right, disease-free soil is no easier than growing and cultivating your strawberry plants in the soil. We found in our tests that this is the best way to get a great harvest of delicious strawberries. It is easy to water and weed the plants and easy to protect the ripe fruit. On the other hand, it can be harder to harvest the fruit and cut the stalks if you do not like to bend. If you have poor soil or do not want to bend or kneel, bags or pots are great, but you may not get as much fruit as you need to stand and water for pests. Some people grow strawberries in hanging baskets, but we found out that the birds ate the fruit before they could be harvested.
Service Made a decent harvest of the sweetest strawberries in the second year. They look attractive and raise the crop above the ground, which keeps many pests away.
bad choice Difficult to water and they dry very quickly. If you store strawberries for more than a year, you need to weed the pots.
Our judgment If you water regularly, strawberry plants are a viable option. However, if you do not water regularly, the plants in the side pockets may dry out and die. The sweetness we found in these strawberries may be due to the fact that they are a bit dry on a very hot summer. The yield has been decent, but if you are looking for a great harvest, you should cultivate them as the plants have more root space to thrive inside.
How to plant
You can order roots with runners from mail order companies from July before our delivery. In the fall, you may also find lots of bare roots with roots in horticultural centers, although you will find less of the varieties we recommend. Plant or repack as soon as possible. Potted plants are available from spring to early summer. Some suppliers offer chilled plants that can be planted in early summer and should bear fruit after 60 days. If you have a lot of fruit, consider growing a number of varieties early and late growing to delay the harvest. As you grow in the ground, place the plants at 12 to 12 inch intervals in rows at 60 cm intervals so that there is enough space for picking.
Take care of your plants
Watering and feeding
Keep them well watered when the flowers appear and give them tomato paste.
It is not necessary to cover the soil around the strawberries, but you will often see if it is advisable. We tested different mulch materials.
Service Easy to water and feed and it yields a fair harvest.
bad choice It is sensitive to weeds. It can be difficult to hold on to the straw.
Our judgment During ripening, a layer of straw was placed around the strawberries to lift them off the ground and prevent mold and pests. However, the plants did not produce as many strawberries as the strawberries that grew directly in the ground, and we still lost so much fruit in pests that the straw did not benefit from it. Unfortunately, it did not prevent weeds and even made it difficult to remove.
Black mulch lacquer
Service Do not pull the weeds and you will get a decent harvest from the first year.
bad choice The roots are difficult to feed and the mulch can provide a home for snails.
Our judgment Using a heavy herbicide black mulch leaf and growing through the plants was one of the most complex ways to grow strawberries. There were few weeds and even though it was a dry summer, the mulch kept the soil moist. We had a fair harvest in both the first and second year, but we lost some strawberries in snails and other pests.
Red plastic mulch
Service It retains moisture in the soil around the plant and produces a satisfactory crop.
bad choice The red mulch does not stop the weeds as well as the black mulch because it lets the light through. The plastic itself tends to tear more easily than the black fabric. It is more difficult to feed and water the plants because the soil around the roots is covered.
Our judgment Red mulch aims to produce sweeter strawberries by deceiving the plants that there is a lot of competition for their fruit from other plants. We found out that the plants actually produced the sweetest strawberries in the first year. In the second year, the fruits grown with strawberry plants were even sweeter but far fewer. We find red mulch an interesting experiment, but the discomfort of the weeds under the mulch make it a difficult technique.
After the fruit is harvested, remove all runners except the ones you plan to use to increase your supply. You can trim the top growth of the original plant to reduce the risk of diseases such as rust, which are common in late summer. Strawberry plants need to grow well for about three years before they start to rot. You may see deformed or yellowed leaves caused by viruses. Replace them with new plants or spread your own, starting in the other part of the garden to prevent disease, or in fresh compost in pots and containers.
Choose offshoots that will grow from the original healthy plant. Choose no more than three per plant. Secure them all in compost pots. Remove extra shoots that grow out of it. Once they are rooted, separate them from the original plant in a few weeks and plant them in a new bed in the fall.
How and when to harvest
Harvest in: May to July
You can choose strawberries from May to July depending on the species you are growing. Look for well-colored fruits and cut them off by cutting off the stem.
Common growth problems
Powdery mildew appears as red spots on the upper leaves, white cover on the leaves and dome of the leaves. Prevent this by watering the plant well and maintaining good air circulation by weeding and removing shoots.
Adult grayling love the fruit and the larvae feed through it. Use adult traps to reduce the number of active adults or treat the larvae with nematodes.
Gray mold (botrytis) can form on the fruit as they begin to mature and make them inedible and no treatment is available. Damaged fruits are very fragile. Therefore, avoid damaging snails and slugs and remove dead leaves.
Snails and wood lice
Snails and wood lice often nibble on strawberries. When growing in plants, whenever possible, lift them off the ground and keep them free of debris. Kill snails with nematode treatment before the fruit ripens or use organic snail grains in sparse varieties.
Birds, mice and squirrels
Cultivation in fruit cages or under nets is usually effective in stopping birds, mice and squirrels. However, cultivation in containers can also prevent pests as they can be transported to less accessible places.