Strawberries are one of the most popular edible plants to have in the garden. And it's not hard to work out why. They're tasty of course. But they have a couple of other great factors going for them.
They can be eaten straight from the garden - always a plus. But more importantly they can be grown just about anywhere. It really doesn't matter what size of garden you have or whether you even have a garden at all. Strawberries can be grown in almost anything - a cut off drainpipe, a planter box, in the garden bed, in a hanging planter and more. As long as they can see the sun, and your garden bed or 'planter' is well-drained, you can expect great growing results.
Strawberries are best planted in June or July. Or, if you live down south, probably best to wait until August when the soil is a little warmer. Once you're ready to plant, head to your local supermarket or Bunnings and grab a couple or more Awapuni Nurseries strawberry bundles. Each bundle has around four plants which should produce upwards of 60-100 strawberries come Christmas. My theory is fill the space you've got with as many plants as you can fit. I personally don't think you can ever have too many strawberries! If you like to shop from the comfort of your own home, simply head to our online store and have your plants delivered direct to your door.
As with all plants, soil preparation is important. Strawberries prefer a soil pH of 5.8 to 6.2, which is slightly acid, so you shouldn't need any lime.
You can enrich the strawberry bed by digging in potash and composted vegetable matter to provide a boost of food for the plants as they grow, and fowl manure to reduce the pH.
Planting in a pot or container? Use a top quality potting mix and for an extra boost of goodness apply a liquid fertiliser to the mix.
Before planting raise your garden bed by mounding the soil. This will encourage circulation, drainage and can add depth to shallow soil.
Plant your seedlings around the edges of your garden or pots to encourage the strawberries to hang over the sides and prevent the fruit from touching the ground and rotting.
Dig a hole 10cm deep and place the seedling inside. A deep hole is required to give the roots plenty of room to spread out and grow but be careful not to bury the plant. Pack the soil firmly around each seedling. Plant each seedling around 300mm apart form the next.
Once planted it's important to keep them well watered at all times.
When the weather starts to warm up during spring it's a good idea to surround the seedlings with peastraw or newspaper to help keep away weeds and retain water. The more moisture they get the juicier the fruit will be.
Place netting or wire over you plants when they begin to produce fruit. This will block out birds and ensure you get to eat the strawberries yourself.
In spring, add another dose of general fertiliser to your strawberries to encourage sturdier plants that are more disease resistant heading in to the warmer months.
Then sit back and wait till Christmas to enjoy the sweet sensation of your own hard work.
Once your strawberry harvest has finished, if you're using hanging baskets or similar containers, it's best to pull out your strawberries and plant new ones after a year to freshen up the soil (don't forget to use new potting mix).
But if they're in your garden, your strawberry patch will last a couple of years. After this you can simply use your runners to create a new patch.