May traditionally marks the start of the British strawberry season; when mild temperatures, long days and more sunshine provide ideal growing conditions for fruits of all shapes and sizes. Supermarket shelves will soon be well stocked, as the popular summer fruits come into season.
Strawberries suit the UK climate and there are many varieties which you can grow yourself with ease… so why not have a go?
How to grow strawberries
Strawberries are a versatile fruit – all they need is sun, shelter and well-drained fertile soil. They are normally grown in rows sown directly into the garden soil. They can also be planted in raised beds, as this can improve drainage and increase rooting depth but they will do equally well in containers or grow-bags.
Strawberry plants bought as runners can be planted from late spring to early summer. They should bear fruit around 60 days after planting. Runners resemble small pieces of roots with few leaves. You will also see strawberry plants for sale in pots, usually from late spring onwards. These should be planted as soon as you buy them. Never plant in winter, as the ground is too wet and cold.
There are several different types of strawberry but the summer-fruiting variety is largest and most popular. They have only a short cropping period over two to three weeks but they do produce a lot of delicious fruit.
How to plant
The planting holes should be 35cm (14 inches) apart. The hole must be large enough to accommodate the roots which should be spread out in the hole, with the base of the crown resting on the surface. If the crown is planted too shallow, the plants can dry out and die.
Plant the next row 75cm (30 inches) away. Place a fibre mat around each plant if required or plant through black polythene. Make sure you water the plants well.
Benefits of growing your own
Home grown strawberries are much better than store-bought, as you can guarantee they are 100% fresh and natural. They can literally be brought straight in from the garden and washed for eating. There's also the satisfaction of learning how to grow your own fruit and a sense of achievement when you succeed, plus you will save money by growing your own.
Protecting from birds
Protecting your strawberry plants against birds is vital, as they can cause many problems - they will eat everything including seedlings, buds, leaves and the fruit. The only reliable solution is to protect the plants by covering them - scarecrows may work for a while but the birds get wise after a time. To protect your fruit crop, Henry Cowls produces a range of fruit cages and netting products.
Manufactured from galvanised steel and aluminium - to withstand even the most adverse weather conditions - our fruit cages include heavy-duty, UV stabilised polyethylene for the nets. The frames include galvanised steel uprights combined with lightweight aluminium door-frames and crossbars, providing strength and anti-rust benefits