How to grow
Strawberries need sun, good drainage and plenty of organic matter. They have shallow roots that are prone to drying up. In very cold areas, protect plants during winter with straw. Weed control is vital. Plant winter-spring, add blood and bone into the soil liberally. Feed frequently throughout the season. Growing a large range of strawberries will ensure you get a long picking season.
Strawberries at Noosa market. Photo - Robin Powell
Spray fortnightly with seaweed solution alternating with comfrey tea.Comfrey tea is the best way to organically encourage better, bigger and tastier fruit - suppling essential trace elements naturally!
Strawberries are sold in a number of different ways. In the cooler months dormant plants are available packaged, with their roots wrapped in moisture-holding material. For much of the year (especially in the warmer seasons) strawberries are sold as seedling plants in small, individual pots. One of the most rewarding ways to grow strawberries is from the strawberry seed packets.
With a mix of varieties you pick fruit from October to May. It's worth noting the Digger's Strawberry Collections such as the Japanese collection or heirloom collection is made up of 20 or 30 plants, all excellent strong varieties. You should also include a few 'Temptation' and 'Alinta' which crop into winter so make sure you add them to your list of must-haves! Foodies will love the white alpine strawberry 'fraises des bois' – which has the added benefit that birds find it harder to see!
Photo - yuris/Shutterstock.com
Throughout the growing season you'll see runners emerging from the mother plant, remove the strongest ones and replant either in pots first to establish the new roots or as I do and pot them straight into the next strawberry patch. Cutting back all the leaves will mean the runners grow back better than ever. Eventually older plants will be replaced with new runners.
Do not plant strawberries where tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes or raspberries have been growing during the last 5 years, the pathogen Verticillium can debilitate them!
Tips & Tricks
* We grow the best strawberries in a 500mm high watertank garden bed.
* Plant your strawberries while there is still plenty of warmth in the sun. They need good sunshine, good quality potting mix that drains freely (place your pot on pot feet), and regular feeding.
* Once your plants are flowering you should water them with liquid feeds of Thrive Flower & Fruit. Never allow your pot to dry out.
* Remove runners as they develop and replant for next season.