Everyone loves strawberries, and anyone with a reliable patch of sunlight can grow them! Here’s how to have your own supply of sweet, fragrant, vitamin-packed strawberries.
There’s nothing better than the sweet flavour of home-grown strawberries! Loved by children and adults a like, it’s little wonder this easy-to-grow groundcover is among the most popular food crops in Australian home gardens.
Producing its pretty white or pale pink flowers from late winter and familiar red berries which curiously bear their seeds on the outside, strawberries will crop throughout spring and summer with many varieties continuing through autumn
Buying strawberry plants
When buying a strawberry plant, consider its cropping season, because they’re not all the same. Some crop predominantly in the spring, others continue through summer and into autumn. Planting a range of varieties can greatly extend your harvest.
Everywhere outside the tropics, new strawberry plants are best planted in June and July. (Tropical gardeners might prefer to put them in earlier, say from March to May to give them the longest growing season. Strawberries need full sun and love a well-drained, slightly acidic soil that is rich in organic matter. To improve the soil, add plenty of 5 IN 1 Organic Fertiliser to the soil before planting and dig it in thoroughly. Don’t plant strawberries too deep — they should be no deeper in the soil than they were in the punnet. They will mound and spread as they grow, so give them space. As a guide, rows of strawberries should be planted about 75cm apart with 30cm between plants. (Overcrowding them can result in a reduced crop, so don’t be greedy by planting too many!)
Strawberries in pots
Strawberries grow beautifully in hanging baskets, pots, strawberry planters or wine barrels and look gorgeous on a sunny deck or verandah. This also benefits the fruit, as the fruit spills over the edges making them easy to reach and protects the fruit from the soil. Growing them in pots is also a great solution if space is limited or you have poor soil. Grow in Searles Platinum Potting Mix for easy results. Strawberries can be directly planted into a potting mix bag of Searles Premium Potting Mix (learn how here How to Grow Salad in a Potting Mix Bag).
Straight after planting, give strawberries a good watering and feed them with a half-strength application of SeaMax Fish & Kelp. To produce the amount of fruit required for a healthy crop, feed them as you would a hungry teen boy – often. Continue feeding every two weeks with a potassium rich instant fertiliser such as Searles Flourish Fruit & Citrus Soluble Plant Food throughout the growing season for a bumper crop.
Strawberries are shallow-rooted, so mulch them well and keep them well-watered — especially in very hot or dry weather. Strawberries in pots need to be watered more frequently — once every day in normal conditions. Laying straw around the base of each plant will help control weeds and keep the roots from overheating in the sun. It can also stop the fruit coming in contact with the soil, which can rot them.
Strawberries can be easy to propagate as they often grow runners. To create new plants, peg the runners down — still attached to the parent plant — until new roots form, then snip them off and plant them in a new location. (If you don’t want more plants, remove the runners immediately to give the parent plant more energy for fruiting.)
Maintain a good layer of mulch over the soil. This will conserve moisture, but it will also keep fruit in good condition by preventing it from touching the ground. Strawberries produce runners which makes them easy to propagate. It is actually recommended that strawberry plants be removed, thinned and the runners replanted every few years to ensure good crops and avoid overcrowding. Birds love strawberries as much as we do, so protect them with netting or place wire cages over your plants to protect your crop.
Easy As! Strawberry Planter Easy As! Space Saving Herb Planter