How to grow Strawberries

Strawberry-Malling-Centenary-1300312

Grow

Water frequently while new plants are establishing. Also water during dry periods in the growing season. Water from the bottom as water from overhead can rot the crown and fruit.

During the growing season, give strawberry plants a liquid potash feed – such as a tomato feed – every 7 to 14 days. In early spring, apply general fertiliser such as Growmore at a rate of 50g per sq m (2oz per sq yd).

In a heated greenhouse or conservatory, it is possible to bring forward flowering by several weeks, so long as the temperature does not go above 16°C (61°F), because this will inhibit flowering. You will also need to hand pollinate the flowers.

As fruits start to develop, tuck straw underneath them to prevent the strawberries from rotting on the soil. Otherwise use individual fibre mats if these are not already in position. The straw or matting will also help to suppress weeds. Weeds that do emerge should be pulled out by hand.

After cropping has finished, remove the old leaves from summer-fruiting strawberries with secateurs or hand shears. Also remove the straw mulch, fibre mat, or black polythene, to prevent a build-up of pests and diseases.

Expect strawberry plants to crop successfully for three years before replacing them. Crop rotation is recommended to minimise the risk of an attack by pests and diseases in the soil.

Plant

Strawberries are so versatile – they just need sun, shelter, and fertile, well-drained soil. Avoid areas prone to frost and soils that have previously grown potatoes, chrysanthemums, or tomatoes because they are all prone to the disease verticillium wilt.

Buy plants from a trustworthy supplier so that the cultivars are what they say they are and the plants are disease free. Order plants in late summer so that they can be planted in early autumn. Strawberry plants bought as cold-stored runners should be planted from late spring to early summer and will fruit 60 days after planting.

Runners look like little pieces of roots with very few leaves. Don’t be alarmed, this is how they should look. You can buy runners from late summer to early spring, and they should be planted in early autumn, or early spring (avoid planting in winter when the ground is wet and cold). You sometimes also see strawberries for sale in pots (normally from late spring onwards) and these can be planted as soon as you buy them.

Strawberries are traditionally grown in rows directly into the garden soil – often referred to as the strawberry patch. Avoid windy sites which will prevent pollinating insects from reaching the flowers. In poor soils grow in raised beds, which improves drainage and increases rooting depth. Alternatively, try containers or growing-bags.

Strawberry plants can be grown under a tunnel cloche to produce an earlier crop by up to seven to 10 days. Place the cloche over the plants in early spring, but remove or roll up the sides when the plants are flowering to give pollinating insects access.

Strawberries in containers can also be grown in an unheated greenhouse, which encourages an even earlier crop, by 10–14 days. In a heated greenhouse or conservatory, it is possible to bring forward flowering by several weeks, so long as the temperature does not go above 16°C (61°F), because this will inhibit flowering. You will also need to hand pollinate the flowers.

Harvesting

Pick strawberries when they are bright red all over, ideally during the warmest part of the day because this is when they are at their most tasty.

Eat them as soon as possible; they do not keep well, but some can be frozen or made into preserves.

Get 20% off everything at Bonmarche!

bonmarch sale

 

Customers who are signed up to the free Bonmarché Bonus club get 20% off everything at Bonmarché Blackdown Garden Centre between Tuesday 17th and Thursday 19th May.

What’s more, all customers who purchase in-store during this 3-day spectacular will also have the chance to win a seaside summer break courtesy of Warner Leisure Hotels and many more fantastic prizes.

Bonus club membership is free and you can join on the day to benefit from the discount.

Terms and conditions: 20% off is valid in-store between Tuesday 17th May – Thursday 19th May 2016, when you spend £20 or more and present a valid Bonmarche Bonus club card. Discount excludes gift cards.

What to do with your pond this month

pond

There are many beautiful plants which enjoy a damp spot, such as Iris ensata ‘Katy Mendez’, left. Tidy and mulch with composted bark or garden compost.

Thin out, cut back or divide excessive new growth on established aquatic plants. You can still plant new aquatic plants this month. Plant vigorous specimens in aquatic plant baskets to contain them. Top the surface with a layer of gravel to prevent the fish from stirring up the compost.

Begin stocking ponds with fish once new plantings have established. Avoid introducing goldfish to wildlife ponds. They will eat frogspawn and so upset the natural balance.

Remove blanket weed by twirling around a rough stick. Skim off floating weeds such as duckweed with a net. Leave weeds on the pond side for 24 hours to allow trapped creatures to return to the water before adding to the compost heap

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So if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, love customer interaction & would like to work in the fastest growing garden centre in Somerset,then apply today.

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