Strawberry

Overview;

With careful selection of varieties, strawberries can be harvested from mid June until early autumn.

Strawberries can be grown in a wide range of soils, providing they are well drained.

Waterlogging can cause the fruit to become diseased and the plant to rot.

If there is no natural drainage, the strawberries should be planted on raised beds.

For best results, the soil should contain copious amounts of humus and have a pH of 6 to 7

A sheltered site that is in full sun is ideal.

Although strawberry plants can produce fruit for five or six years, it is better to replace plants after three years.

This is the time when yields tend to reduce, and a build-up of pests and diseases can occur.

Only plant certified disease free stock!

 

Strawberry bed at different times in the season



Cultivation

Week 4: For an early crop fetch a few plants into the greenhouse for forcing.

Week 8: Prepare Strawberry beds if ground conditions allows.

If possible, avoid planting strawberries in soils that potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes have been grown in, in the previous five seasons

These crops may have harboured the fungal disease Verticillium that can infect your newly planted strawberries.

Prepape soil by digging in copious amounts of of well rotted compost / manure as this is all it will receive for a few years.

This will also help drainage.

Week 9: Plants brought into the heated glass last month should be growing vigorously.

They should be kept in good light at a temperature of around 10C (50F), ensure they do not dry out.

As the plants come into flower, begin liquid feeding on a weekly basis.

Hand pollinate flowers by gently brushing over the centre of open blooms with a soft camel brush or a piece of cotton wool.

Week 14: If conditions allow, carefully remove weeds from around established plants, then rake in a top dressing of high potash fertiliser.

If not done the previous autumn and if conditions allow plant out new plants.

Prior to planting, rake in a top dressing of high potash fertiliser.

Mulch mats or black plastic sheet laid on the soil prior to planting will greatly reduce weeds from growing around your strawberry plants, and will help to conserve ground moisture, and keep fruit clean.

Plant the Strawberry's plants through the holes in the mats or punch holes in the top of the plastic.

Water your plants thoroughly before planting, particularly if you have received them by mail order.

Check plants for pests such as aphids and either give them a thorough spraying with insecticide or dip the entire plant.

Always wear protective gloves if dipping plants.

Space your plants 300-500mm (12-18") apart in the row.

Optimal spacing between rows is 600-900 mm (24"-36") apart for maximum air movement, sunlight and access.

Set plants in the row with the root ball facing straight down.

The middle of the crown should be level with the top of the soil.

If space is at a premium, set a few plants in grow bags, tubs or planters.

Soil should be watered after planting to set the strawberry plants in the ground.

After the initial watering, the soil will settle and the soil line should be even with the bottom of the crown.

Week 22: Spray plants with a systemic fungicide to prevent fungus disorders.

Week 23: Keep plants free from weeds and ventilate cloched plants on fine days.

Remove flower buds from recently planted strawberries to encourage young runners to build up into strong plants for fruiting the following year.

Once fruit begins to swell, and weighs the stalks down, provide an underlay of straw or proprietary mats (alternatively, see Week 14) to prevent ripening fruits becoming soiled.

Apply slug bait to deter fruit damage and net plants to protect fruit from birds.



Week 25:
Ensure that the edges of the bird nets covering the strawberry plants are well secured in place.

Harvest fruit as they becomes ripe.

Remove nets after harvesting to allow birds to pick off any pests.

Week 27-29: Propagate new plants by pegging down runners from vigorous and disease free plants into the soil or compost filled pots.

Peg down layers (no more than five runners per plant), with ā€˜Uā€™ shaped pieces of wire about 100mm (4ā€) long and leave to root.

Rooting should take place in 4-6 weeks.(click on photo to engage slideshow)

Week 30: Sow seed of Alpine varieties in pots/trays of seed compost and germinate in a cold frame or cool greenhouse.

Germination should take up to two weeks.

Prick out seedlings into individual 70mm (3") pots and grow on in a cold frame.

Week 32: When harvesting is completed, cut down the leaves to 100mm (4") above soil level, (apart from those plants where 'runners' are being secured') and hoe off any remaining weeds.

Week 34: Sever runners from parent plants (if rooted) and place in cold frame until planting out time.

Week 36: Plant out strong well-rooted strawberry runners (taken in July) to replace old stock* in prepared beds from now until mid-October.

Apply a top dressing of a high potash fertiliser before planting out.

Mulch mats or black plastic sheet laid on the soil prior to planting will greatly reduce weeds from growing around your strawberry plants, and will help to conserve ground moisture, and keep fruit clean.

Plant the strawberry's plants through the holes in the mats or punch holes in the top of the plastic.

If required, water your plants thoroughly before planting.

Check plants for pests such as aphids and either give them a thorough spraying with insecticide or dip the entire plant

Always wear protective gloves if dipping plants.

Space your plants 300-500mm (12-18") apart in the row.

Optimal spacing between rows is 600-900 mm(24"-36") apart for maximum air movement, sunlight and access.

Set plants in the row with the root ball facing straight down.

The middle of the crown should be level with the top of the soil.

Soil should be watered after planting to set the strawberry plants in the ground.

After the initial watering, the soil will settle and the soil line should be even with the bottom of the crown.

*As a general rule plants should be replaced every 3-4 years.

Pot up a few into 150mm (6") pots for forcing under glass. (See Week 4)

Week 40 onwards: Mulch established strawberry plants when the plants have started to go dormant, this helps prevent quick freezing and thawing which can affect plant survival.

Mulching also keeps weeds down, conserves moisture, helps keep fruit dean, and adds humus to the soil.

Several types of materials can be used for mulching for example; wheat, barley or oat straw.

Wood chips can also be used, but it is best to avoid materials like leaves because they tend to mat down and smother plants.

In spring remove mulch from the top of the crowns when new growth starts.

Avoid removing the mulch too early, because this may accelerate blossoming and increase the susceptibility to frost damage.

Leaving the mulch in the aisles will help keep the fruit clean.





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