Simply strawberry

Strawberries are very easy to grow and do not require too much attention.

I have a husband who loves his puddings, so strawberries are a much-loved weekly dessert in our family! With constant feeding, watering and mulching, we are able to produce the weekly dessert almost throughout the year. Besides the birds, another frequent visitor to our veggie garden is Lexi, our little granddaughter, who, more often than not, will be found in the strawberry patch eating strawberries to her heart’s and tummy’s content. Growing strawberries is also a good way to introduce children to gardening, as the berries are easy to grow and delicious to eat.

We have two strawberry beds that we keep going for about two to three years before we replant new ones from runners. We never redo both beds the same year, as our weekly strawberry puddings would be jeopardized! We can still pick from the one bed, whilst the new bed is getting established.

When to plant

March, April and May are the best months to establish your strawberry beds.

Planting strawberries

Strawberries grow well in full sun. Make your bed about a metre wide, dig it a spade’s depth, and then add compost and well-rotted manure. Add several handfuls of bone meal per square metre, as well as a sprinkling of lime. Prepare your bed a week or two before planting to allow it to settle. Buy healthy strawberry plants, or use your own strawberry runners, and plant 40 cm apart, firming down the plant so that the crown is not buried. Mulch closely around the crown of each plant and ensure that all the leaves are above the mulch.

Watering and feeding

Strawberries require a lot of water; otherwise, the berries will be small and dry. Drip irrigation is the best method of watering as it waters the roots, not the leaves; this stops any fungal problems from developing on the leaves. Feed your strawberries monthly with a liquid fertiliser and you will be rewarded with juicy sweet strawberries.

Propagation

The plants put out runners; stolon is the correct name, but to keep is simple, we’ll continue to call them runners. Runners are long stems that run off the mother plant and create baby strawberry plants, and they are very easy to propagate. When the plant sends out a runner over the surface of the soil, the node at the end produces roots when in contact with the soil. Once the new plant is well established, you can cut the runner.

 Catch the runners

One strawberry plant sends out lots of runners, but it’s a good idea to remove these runners as they will sap energy from the mother plant and prevent her from producing more fruit. Maybe this is why we have fruit continuously throughout the year, as all our runners are cut off and sent to the nursery to make new plants. Pay close attention if you want to have healthy fruiting strawberries and remove your runners before they start rooting, unless you want to use them for propagation.

Pests and diseases

Botrytis, which is a grey mould, can affect the strawberry fruit and its leaves. Remove any affected, soggy fruit. Snails and slugs also love strawberries; either hand-pick them at night, or use bait to catch them. All our gardens seem to be rife with slugs and snails; it’s not surprising when you consider that a single slug can lay up to 800 eggs a year.

Picking

Pick your strawberries when they are ripe. Make sure to wash them only just before eating, rather than after picking, as the berries keep best when they are dry.

Strawberry Jam

500g strawberries

Juice of one lemon

500g sugar

  1. Crush and simmer the fruit until soft.
  2. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Boil rapidly until set.

 

EMERALD SEEDLINGS
Alpes Rd, Teviotdale, Harare
(opp Wingate Golf course)
Gill 0772 301 440
Cosmas 0772 382 081
Indigenous & exotic trees, shrubs, fruit trees, grass plugs & flower seedlings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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