Vegetable Garden

How to look after Strawberry Beds

July 13, 2010

If you spend a small amount of time learning about a crop – the growing conditions it favours, how to look after it once you’ve harvested, as well as the pests and diseases to look out for, you will (hopefully!) be rewarded with a bumper crop.

Strawberries are an amazingly hardy crop.  All the plants in both our beds survived the coldest winter we’ve had in years and we’ve had our best harvest from them yet.

This week alone from our Cambridge variety we’ve frozen about 30lbs, made 12 jars of jam, frozen a strawberry and rhubarb crumble and made two cheesecakes, as well as eaten them when we’ve fancied.

So what would it help to know…….

Preparation and Care of your Strawberry Bed

Strawberries are a woodland plant, which means that they tolerate shade, although they fruit better in sun. They like plenty of humus (in the wild they grow in pure leaf mould) and they don’t object to fairly acid conditions.

They prefer a light soil to clay, but will thrive in any well-drained ground provided they have plenty of humus. They develop a much better flavour in a cold climate, and new plants should be moved to totally fresh ground every three years as they are a hungry plant that tends to exhaust the soil.

When the soil is being prepared, it should be dug one spade deep and plenty of compost or well-rotted organic manure incorporated. Strawberries like lots of potash too.

Weeds should be removed regularly using a hoe or by hand. Once the crop starts to spread, straw can be placed under the straggling stems to keep them clean.

Strawberry Propagation

Virus-free strawberry plants can be purchased from reputable suppliers. Once planted most varieties make runners that will root themselves, which can be encouraged by removing the blossom from a few plants.  Small pots can be buried in the soil in the ground near the parent plants and the ends of the runners pegged on to the pots. When they have rooted properly, they can be severed from their parent plant, the pots dug up and the new plants transplanted. Parent plants can put out several runners, so choose two or three of the strongest and remove the weaker ones.

In this way a new strawberry bed could be established every autumn giving a freshly planted bed, a year old bed, a two-year old bed and a three-year old bed – the last of which will be ready for digging up. The new beds should be dug as far as possible from the old ones to hinder disease.
The bed shown on the left was made up entirely of runners from another bed.
Strawberries can be planted at any time of the year but it’s traditional to plant them late in the summer so they can be harvested the following year. They should be planted so that the crown is at ground level but the roots are spread out widely and downwards and watered well. They can be placed 38cm (15in) apart with 75cm (30in) between rows.
To help warm up the soil and to prevent weeds from taking hold, plastic or weed control membrane can be placed over the soil prepared for the strawberry beds, holes made in it at the recommended distances (see above) and the strawberries planted in them. Untreated straw can then be placed on top of that to keep the fruit dry.

Strawberry Pests and Diseases

  • Birds love to eat the ripe berries but the plants can be protected be covering with a net.
  • Powdery Mildew will make them a dull brown colour.
  • Aphids are a menace because they spread virus diseases.
  • Strawberry Beetle can be discouraged by keeping the beds weeded.
  • Rot can be a problem after rain. All ripe berries should be picked immediately after rain and rotten ones composted.

Strawberry Harvesting and Storage

The fruit should be pulled off the plant with their stems intact, and the stems left on right up until eating otherwise vitamins and other nutrients are lost. They can be stored in the shade for a few hours, in the fridge for a day or two. The can be frozen but tend to go soft when thawed.

Strawberry Bed After Care

The straw should be removed once the crop has been harvested and the bed cleared of dead leaves, surplus runners and weeds.

5 Comments

  • Reply Mr. H. July 14, 2010 at 3:39 am

    You have some very nice strawberry plants, I enjoyed this post. I was not aware that removing the blossoms helped to encourage the runners, that is a tip I will probably use in the future.

  • Reply Help - what do I do with my strawberry patch?Greenside Up September 27, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    […] you’d like to know more about strawberries, here’s a post I wrote a couple of years ago with more information, but for now we just have to wait patiently before we dig out the strawberry cheesecake and Eton […]

  • Reply My job ~ as a community gardening tutorGreenside Up September 27, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    […] two raised beds as well as receive a practical lesson on planting potatoes, raspberry canes and strawberries. We also discussed red spider mite, recycled plastic pots and soil […]

  • Reply In the Community Garden at the end of MarchGreenside Up September 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    […] We finished by tidying up the strawberries which had temporarily been planted in the herb wheel. We plan to move them again into guttering that was donated by Anne (and carried to the garden!) which will be hung up in the polytunnel once we have the plastic cut to size. (There’s a blog post here on how to look after strawberry  beds.) […]

  • Reply Strawberry Cheesecake RecipeGreenside Up July 10, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    […] If you’d like to find out more about growing strawberries, you might find this archive post helpful. […]

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