With Wimbledon coming up at the end of the month, many people will be heading out to the shops to stock up on strawberries and cream. However, if you fancy growing your own plants, they are easy to take care of in a greenhouse, and this time next year, you’ll have your own crop to enjoy with the tennis.
If you want your crops to flower earlier, try planting your strawberries in a greenhouse. They may be grown in either 15cm pots, or you can plant them with a good 35cm of soil in between them in rows about 75cm apart. June or July is a good time to plant cold-stored runners, ready for an early crop in the coming year. Make sure your soil is high in potash and low in nitrates, and get planting!
Strawberries like to be planted in sunny spots well-sheltered from the wind. When planting the bottom of the crown of the runner should be at soil level with the roots hanging to their fullest extent without curling upwards. If the roots are overly long and getting in your way when planting, they may be trimmed down to a minimum length of 10 cm. Give a leaf a pull to see if you’ve planted it deep enough; if the leaf rips before the plant tries to come out of the soil, then you’re good to go. Make sure that the crown isn’t buried and the roots aren’t exposed, and then water well. You may wish to cover it with a Wirework Cone or Dome to protect it from hungry animals.
Be careful not to overwater your strawberries; they need a lot of water on sunny days when there is a lot of sun, but less when the plants are small and the weather is cool. Give the compost a squeeze in your hand to test how wet it is – if you get drips then you should scale back on your watering.
Keep an eye on your crop throughout the year, trimming excess growth like runners to encourage the fruits to grow. In late Spring, place some straw between the fruit and the ground to stop the soil spoiling the crop. For larger fruit, try to keep the temperature under 18° C, and make sure you pick the fruit as soon as it is ripe, leaving the green stems in to preserve freshness.
Then, after you harvest, all you need is a tub of cream, a bowl, and a spoon to enjoy the fruits of your hard work!