Strawberry Growing Guide

Strawberry growing guideStrawberries are a classic British fruit, perfect for accompanying delicious desserts or turning into tasty jams. Growing them yourself also happens to be quite straightforward and conditions are favourable for successful harvests every year.

Several varieties of strawberries grow in the UK. These are:
  1. Summer fruiting strawberries - the largest and most popular variety, these are grown from runners or young plants.
  2. Perpetual strawberries - this variation has long growth periods and is much smaller than summer fruiting strawberries. These are grown from either runners or young plants.
  3. Alpine strawberries - sometimes known as woodland or wild strawberries, these are tiny berries that grow over the summer months. These start as a seed, so need to be sowed before planting outside.
If you want to add strawberries to your list of gardening projects, our guide can help. Read on to learn when to grow them, what to do and how to harvest them.

When to grow strawberries

Strawberries are planted in spring or in late summer/early autumn. Typically, they will be harvested from early summer to autumn, depending on when you planted them and the variety.

How to grow strawberries

  1. Buy your strawberry plants, runners or seeds from your local garden centre.
  2. Weed the site where your strawberry plant will go, add well-rotted manure/garden compost and rake in some high-potassium fertiliser.

If you're growing alpine strawberries, their journey begins inside and here's how they're sown:
  1. Fill small pots or trays with fine seed compost, gently firmed, in autumn or spring.
  2. Spread the seeds evenly over the compost and cover with some sharp sand.
  3. Cover each pot or tray with a plastic bag to keep the humidity levels high enough to germinate. They will require a temperature of 18°C to 21°C.
  4. After two leaves can be seen from the seedlings, prick them out to 2.5cm apart.
  5. Plant out in May in a sheltered and sunny spot.

Place your strawberry plants in your pre-prepared soil roughly 30cm to 45cm away from each other and in rows 75cm apart. Try to find a sheltered spot that gets plenty of sunlight and water the strawberry plants well once they're in the ground.

Strawberry plants can grow in large pots, grow bags and hanging baskets too if you don't have the ground space for them.

Looking after your strawberries while they grow

Watering - strawberry plants love water and keeping them well soaked in their first few weeks is vital while they're establishing. Add more water when temperatures rise in the summer months but try to avoid wetting the crown as this can lead to fungal issues.

Feeding - scatter high potassium fertiliser on the strawberry plants growing in the ground - half a handful per square metre should be enough. Opt for a liquid feed like a tomato option if you're growing strawberries in containers.

Mulching - spread a thick layer of mulch around the plants before they fruit to deter weeds. Wheat or barley straws are both great options.

Removing - remove flowers if plants are weak and always get rid of the very first flowers if you're growing perpetual strawberries.

Protecting - some common external threats to look out for include frost, which a horticultural fleece can help with, and birds which can be stopped using a cloche.

How to harvest strawberries

Harvest your strawberries when the whole fruit is bright red. Do this by simply picking them off by the stem during the warmest part of the day. Make sure you don't harvest strawberries that aren't ripe yet as they won't develop anymore once they're off the plant.

Once picked, you can eat the strawberries right away. However, they should keep for a few extra days when refrigerated too.

Benefits of growing strawberries in a polytunnel

A polytunnel could help you get the most out of your strawberries by offering these benefits:
  1. Create a warmer microclimate that strawberries thrive in
  2. Shelter from rain to prevent disease and rot
  3. Protection from strong winds which can cause crop damage
  4. Protection from pests and reducing the need for chemical pest control
  5. Vertical and horizontal growing space

Find a polytunnel for your strawberries today

If growing strawberries in a polytunnel sounds like the ideal next project for you, choose one from our collection. We have plenty of sizes to fit your outdoor space and they can take your gardening to the next level. Plus, we stock fruit cages, cloches, polytunnel replacement covers and other accessories.

If you have any questions about our polytunnels, our experts can help. Contact us today by ringing 01282 811250, requesting a callback or emailing us.

Don't forget to check our growers' blog too for more handy tips and inspiration for future projects.
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