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Strawberry Season

by CountryLife Gardening | May 28, 2015
Growing Strawberries

We are well and truly on the cusp of strawberry season here in Ireland and I for one am delighted. Strawberries are a fantastic fruit to grow which in the overall scheme of the garden do not require a lot of work and can often be left to their own devices.

The best time to plant new strawberries is in the spring but you can still buy young plants from the garden centre now. They will however require some extra TLC and a watchful eye until they have established to ensure they do not dry out. In terms of feed a good quality tomato feed or seaweed feed will be perfect.

Growing your own strawberry plantIn my own garden I have my strawberries planted in raised beds which are six feet wide. This size of bed means that when I stand at the side I can easily reach halfway across the bed to weed and tend to the plants. Then I simply have to walk around to the other side to weed and care for the second half of the bed. This is an important thing to keep in mind when designing vegetable beds as you want to avoid cases of having to walk on the soil to weed or care for plants as it damages the soil structure and also the plants.

In the first year you plant strawberries do not let them flower. Instead pick the flowers off. This will force the plant to put all its energy in to growing and you will have a bigger healthier plant the following year. In the second year you can let it fruit as much as you want. I am always surprised by the amount of fruit they can produce in a year.

I am currently in the third year of having my strawberry plants and while production does fall slightly each of my plants has at least 30-40 flower on them. And with 5 rows of 16 plants this could mean between 2,400 to over 3,000 strawberries this season. This means I will have plenty to make simple strawberry syrups for over ice cream and then jam for later in the year.

Protecting strawberries from birdsWhen it comes to soft fruit one of the biggest threats to a bountiful harvest is birds. To protect my own crop at home I stick a cane at either end of the bed and drape fine netting over both canes to form a tepee like structure. I then weight the sides down with two lengths of wood which can easily be moved if I need to get at the strawberries. This method works very well at keeping the birds away from your fruit and can be adapted to work for different situations.

Other pests which can cause problems for strawberry plants are aphids and vine weevil. Aphids and vine weevil can both be treated very easily with chemical treatments available in all garden centres. When it comes to vine weevil I have found going out at dusk with a flashlight is a great way to notice the insects and you can easily catch them and remove them from the garden. Slugs and snails can also pose a problem once fruit has started to form. It is important to treat them accordingly before they cause any problems.  

Written by Malachy

Read my blog on "Controlling weeds around Strawberries"

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!