It’s Time to Plant Strawberries
The best time for strawberry planting is right now if you want bowlfuls on the table come Christmas time. You will find them in store in the edible aisle in multi punnets of assorted varieties and each of these small plants will be your summer harvest.
Strawberry plants quadruple in size when in full swing and a good rule of thumb is to allow at least five plants per person in your household to give enough fruit for everyone to enjoy. Strawberries are a favourite and by the time the kids and the kids’ friends have had their share you want to make sure there are still plenty left!
Strawberries are rich in Vitamin B and C and contain considerable amounts of potassium, iron and fibre. To maximize their health benefits berries are always best home grown where the need for sprays is not always necessary. Store bought berries have been liberally sprayed to control fungal infection yet they always seem to be past their best by the time you get home from the supermarket, so picking them fresh just steps away from the kitchen provides immense satisfaction.
When planting your berries, leave 20 cm between plants and lay straw around each plant as mulch. The straw will prevent the soil from getting the fruit dirty as they droop from stalks and will also keep the soil warm to help with growth and ripening of fruit.
Position your plants in a sunny area of the garden. If you have plants from last year then pull off the runners, plant these baby ‘pups’ and discard the original mother plant. For the best harvest of fruit the plants are better when treated as annual, replacing mature plants each year with pups or with new strawberry plants.
Get creative with where you plant too, and grow a variety of strawberries for early, mid and late season harvest. You can also try out planting in different ways and places. Strawberries can be grown vertically in a planting bag or hanging basket for easy picking from a balcony or pergola or horizontally along a fence line to make the most of space. Try wooden troughs lined with coconut fibre or polythene before being filled with a good quality soil like Tui Strawberry Mix which is enriched with a balanced fertiliser for maximum fruit yield. The troughs can be fixed securely to a fence or at the edge of a deck.
Feeding strawberries is simple. For supersized plants a popular choice for growing great strawberries use strawberry fertiliser, or if you prefer organic, there’s a great range of organic fertiliser to choose from. Getting the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is going to give you the sweetest tasting fruit.
Watch here for how to grow great strawberries