For a fruit that captures the essence of summer so beautifully, you simply cannot go past strawberries. Why rely on the supermarket for your strawberry fix when you can grow plenty of your own. Strawberries taste so much better out of your own garden, they don’t need much space, and are fun for kids to grow.
However, as with all plants, strawberries may struggle to grow if not in the right situation and location. If you’re thinking of growing strawberries, or you already have your plants in the garden, check out our most frequently asked questions, and the answers, below.
When should I be planting my strawberries?
We know that June seems really early to be thinking about planting strawberries, but the sooner you get them in to the ground, giving the plant more time to get established and get a strong root system in place, this in turn will give you a healthier stronger plant resulting in more fruit. Strawberry plants are available in Palmers stores now.
Pea straw is a natural mulch that is high in nitrogen, it breaks down quickly to release nutrients for plants as well as adding organic material to improve soil structure. Pea straw is ideal for use as a mulching layer around heavy feeding fruit such as strawberries and vegetable plants, where it can help to suppress weeds from taking hold and competing for nutrients and moisture in the soil. It also keeps your fruit nice and clean (no dirt splashing up!)
What should I do at planting time?
- Find a sunny location – you will get the best flavour from strawberries that are planted in a sunny spot.
- Plant in well-drained soil, strawberries love water but have a shallow root system, which means that they can become waterlogged and the roots can rot if you are too generous around watering time. Planting strawberries in small mounds will help prevent the soil from becoming too damp.
- Strawberries like to have room to breathe so give them at least 30cm between the plants and at least 40cm between each row of plants.
- Either sheep pellets or strawberry food work well at planting time, make sure you mulch the bed with something like Lucerne or Peastraw mix to keep the bed warm. Your local Palmers store will stock the mulch as well as the feeding products.
I don’t have much space for strawberry plants, what should I do?
Strawberries can be grown in small spaces. Think hanging baskets, troughs, containers or pots. Read our article on DIY ideas for growing strawberries.
Strawberry flowers are the means by which strawberry plants ultimately produce fruit. Pinch out or cut off the first and second set flowers that come up on your strawberry plants, as this will allow the plants to get established and grow without distraction, to become a healthy plant before starting producing masses of fruit promoting better growth
How many strawberry plants should I be planting?
Everyone loves strawberries, so to make sure there are enough for everyone we recommend planting 5 plants per person. This will ensure you’re getting juicy berries all summer long!
What are the best companion plants for strawberries?
Garlic and onions – the pungent smell of garlic and onions are excellent strawberry companions that discourage pests from feasting on juicy berries.
Lettuce and spinach – many gardeners believe that inter-planting lettuce and spinach with strawberries enhances the productivity of all three plants. The leafy plants may also hide ripe berries from hungry birds.
Avoid planting strawberries near plants that are also heavy feeders, such as tomatoes, as they will compete with one another.
How can I stop birds eating my strawberries?
Just before strawberries are about to colour, cover them up with bird netting. Suspend the netting over your strawberry patch, so that it doesn’t actually rest on the plants, make sure that you secure the netting to the ground, with logs or heavy objects so that birds cannot get underneath. Check frequently for any birds that may have gotten underneath the netting and become trapped. They will have had plenty to eat, but will need to fly back to their nests.