Strawberry plants come in three basic forms:
- Fresh dug runners
- Cold stored runners
- Fresh dug runners are usually harvested late summer onwards and can be planted straight away (August September October) so that they continue to develop before the growing season stops.
- Cold stored runners can be bought anytime from February through to early June and planted out in sequence to delay and spread cropping. They are sometimes called 60-day plants because that is usually the length of time between planting and cropping.
- Potted strawberry plants were grown from runners or rooted tips planted in the early autumn and grown on to be semi mature plants ready for planting in from late spring onwards. They too can either be fresh or delayed by chilling.
Types of strawberry
- June bearers or summer fruiting. As the name suggests these are main crop varieties usually cropping in June but can go into July according to the variety. They produce one flush of flowers and that is it. For example Christine is an early summer fruiting variety and Fenella is a late variety.
- Everbearer varieties flower continuously until the cold weather stops them. They generally start to flower in July, peaking in August and continuing on through into late September. Finesse is an excellent example of an everbearer variety with good disease resistance.
Manipulating the cropping periods
Bring strawberries on early by warming them up under fleece, under a polythene cloche, or in the green house. Best to use plants that were established in the autumn if bringing on early.
Hold them back by completely covering the autumn established plants in straw until about late April. The plants will look quite sick as they are uncovered but soon recover. Or keep runners in your fridge (best at about 1° C) and plant out late. Plant everbearers to bring in the later crops.
Planting and growing
It is best not to grow strawberries in the same ground for more than three years or where tomatoes or potatoes have been grown to avoid disease. If that is unavoidable then grow them in peat or coir bags or pots. Always choose a sunny spot.
If you haven’t got any
ground then they grow perfectly happily in containers on the balcony or patio.
Plant the runners so that all of the roots are pointing straight down into deep friable soil. Press them in firmly and then bring in loose soil around the crown which is the joining area between the roots and the leaves. Try to avoid burying the crown.
Conserve moisture and supress weeds by using mulches around the plants. Anything will do from newspaper to sawdust and straw to polythene. Once the plants
are in flower you can place straw around them so that the fruits don’t go in the mud.