Our strawberries are producing exceptionally well this year. So far, they have supplied a steady crop, and a couple of times I’ve harvested 3 kilos in a week from our 1 x 2.5 metre patch, – and that doesn’t include the ones that the slugs have dined on. (I’ve been so busy I haven’t got around to putting in a couple of beer traps yet.) The patch has produced far too many strawberries for us, and the excess has been made into jam, or frozen (in 500g batches) for strawberry daiquiris at Christmas or for further batches of jam. When I prepare our next strawberry bed, I will make it smaller because the grandchildren now have their own strawberry patch.
I’ve had several questions recently about growing strawberries. In cool and temperate areas, strawberries are fruiting or coming into fruit while in warmer climates strawberries produce best through the cooler months. At this time of year, there are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your strawberry crop.
• Maintain regular deep watering – but don’t over-water fruiting plants – use the finger test to check soil dampness.
• Pick fruit regularly. Rotting fruit encourages disease.
• Place a plant marker beside the best producers so that you can take runners from the healthiest plants when cropping finishes.
• If you notice fruit is becoming sunburned, you can set up a tent fly of 30-50 percent shadecloth to protect fruit from the sun during the hottest part of the day. The fly has to be high enough to allow good air circulation, or foliage diseases can occur. The tent fly also deters birds that love eating strawberries.
• A drink of seaweed extract tea, applied to the soil around the plants will build resistance to disease and improve the quality of fruit.
• If plants have leaf spot, remove and dispose of damaged leaves in a sealed plastic bag, then spray foliage mid morning with one cup of strained chamomile tea diluted to 500 ml. and, in future, only water plants early in the day.
• Add a couple of beer traps if snails or slugs are a problem. See Snails and slugs
You can start preparing next year’s strawberry bed next month, and I will post some tips on getting the best out of your strawberry bed.