Strawberries are a lovely addition to summer salads, desserts and a treat to have on their own. They are definitely one of the easiest fruits to grow and what a thrill it is to be able to announce to your friends and dinner guests that you grew them yourself!
Growing your own strawberries in the backyard requires upwards of six hours of sunlight a day and not very much space, so you could even grow some on your balcony if it gets the right amount of light.
Strawberries grow to a height of about 15cm and put out runners to establish further plants. Each clump can be from half a metre up to about 1 metre wide.
It’s best to obtain strawberries from your local nursery because you want to make sure that they’re not carrying any disease. A large family might consume the fruit from 30-40 plants, but even one or two plants will give you some summer time treats. The biggest decision about how many to buy will be based on your growing space and your budget.
Before you plant, prepare the garden with plenty of compost, because strawberries are runners you want to eliminate any large soil clumps which may prevent the plants from naturally spreading out. Enhance the soil with compost and blood and bone.
Space out your strawberries so they get plenty of air, this will stop your strawberries becoming too wet. You want your strawberries to be well drained so that fungus can’t get a hold.
Plants will require plenty of water as they are establishing, so check them every day or so for moisture and if your summer is particularly hot then spread some straw-based mulch to prevent the strawberries from touching the soil and spoiling.
As the temperature starts to warm up, your strawberries will put out runners and you’ll notice new plants starting to form. Keep an eye on your plants because the fruit can ripen quickly. Pick your strawberries from the stem, leaving the top leaves. You should pick your strawberries one they are about three quarters red.
Serve them in a fruit salad, or use them as a substitute for Olives in a Greek Salad. Strawberries can be cooked into jams or enjoyed on their own with double-cream for a tasty afternoon treat.
Once your plants have stopped fruiting, cut them back to a height of about 10cm. You’ll be pleased to know that your Strawberries will continue to fruit for about four years, so after that time you’ll need to replace your plants and start again.