Strawberries: it’s fruit too, not just vegetables!

We’ve grown strawberries for the last couple of years, but we felt like they needed a bit of a refresh this year for a couple of reasons:

  1. The plants we had been growing were becoming less prolific and the runners we’d taken weren’t looking too great
  2. The plants we had been growing were given to us and the varieties were unknown. But what we found were that some tasted much better (or worse!) than others and so we wanted to try afresh with varieties that we hoped would all be tasty!

It turns out planting out strawberries is quite an operation! And who knew they were going to look like this when they arrived?!

We chose two varieties, Cambridge Favourite and Sonata. The former is an old favourite with very good reviews and the latter was described on Ken Muir’s as “sweet, large fruits with a very good flavour…” – how could we resist?!?!

First, we had to turnover the bed that we’d previously used to grow the strawberries. We started this with a rake, but to no avail. So then Dad lent us his Mantis tiller which did a fantastic job at breaking up the sticky clay soil. It was hard work though!

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We still had to rake it to level out the grow though. Although I think this may have been to Before we created two ridges to plant the strawberries on top of. The idea of this is to ensure that the strawberries (once they’ve grown) are not left laying in water as they ripen which may cause them to rot off.

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We then covered the ridges with weed suppressant. This is something else to help us both now and when the strawberries come along. Now, to stop the weeds taking over as the strawberries take hold, and later for the strawberries to rest on as they grow and ripen without them having to sit on the soil itself.

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After securing the weed suppressant, we planted one strawberry plant per hole in the seed suppressant and then watered these in well to settle the soil around each one. The left hand photo is the strawberry plants when we just planted them out, and the right hand plant is them two weeks later once they’ve started getting established.

Strawberry progress

Having checked on the strawberry runners we potted up a couple of weeks ago, each of these have now rooted into their pot. Therefore, it was time to cut them loose from the parent plant so they can form their own plant.

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These will just be kept watered now until they have formed their own strong plant. They will then die back over the winter and grow back next Spring to be planted out for next year’s strawberries.

Starting to think about next year already!

Now that the strawberries have stopped producing fruits, it is time to think about planning for next year’s crop. This doesn’t take much thinking about, as the plants do this all by themselves, by starting to throw “runners”. These are elongated stems which grow leaves and roots out periodically with the aim of finding some nice soil to anchor themselves in and produce more plants next season.

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To ensure the strawberry bed is kept in an orderly fashion, we pot the runners up rather than letting them root wherever takes their fancy. First, we filled several 3″ pots with a little bit of soil to give the pots some weight.

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Then we filled the pots to the top with some multipurpose compost.

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Lastly, we identified the runners we wanted to pot up, and pushed their root nodules into the surface of the compost, holding them down with a U-shape of plastic coated wire.

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The job was finished off by giving each pot a good watering to settle the runner in. We will keep watering them regularly now until the runners start to root.

 

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