Strawberry tips

For future reference, here are some general tips for growing strawberries.
• Strawberry plants should be replaced every 3 years as young plants are better croppers.
• The bed should be positioned where it receives winter sun, as shaded foliage in cool conditions does not dry quickly, and wet foliage encourages the establishment of several diseases.
• Choose a bed that that is rich in organic matter and has not contained any of the tomato/potato family for 3 years.
• Prepare the strawberry bed in early to mid summer with compost and well-rotted manure covered with a thick layer of mulch. Compost has a pH close to neutral and the break down of the manure will make soil slightly more acid, which strawberries prefer.
• If you don’t have a lot of compost to spare, starting preparing the bed in early summer by sheet composting manure (without lime) under a thick layer of mulch. Strawberry plants respond well to organic cultivation as beneficial fungi in organic matter help keep soil diseases under control and provide roots with nutrients.
• In autumn, plant out strawberry runners from only healthy plants that have produced well. I find that Full Moon phase is best for planting out strawberry crowns. See post on Propagating strawberries
• I don’t recommend growing strawberries in beds covered with black plastic. Strawberries need regular watering, and an occasional dose of liquid fertiliser applied to soil. A plastic soil covering requires drip irrigation to be set up before planting. The plastic not only makes it difficult to apply supplementary fertilisers and clear blocked drippers, it also gets very hot and can also burn fruit in many areas of Australia.
• Manures will provide the nutrients the crowns need for strong roots and good foliage growth. Good foliage cover is important to protect fruit from birds. If growth seems slow, an application or two of weak manure tea will help. But, don’t overdo it. Excess nitrogen will attract aphids that carry virus disease.
• In warm climates, plants will grow quickly and produce fruit through the cooler months. In warm temperate, temperate and cooler climates, fruit is produced through spring or summer. In cold areas, plants can be protected from frost by covering them with clean straw.
• When flowers start to form an application of seaweed extract tea will help both fruit quality and disease protection. Several flowers will produced at the end of stout stems, which stand above the foliage. If plants have produced good foliage, after flowers are pollinated, the weight of the fruit will gradually bend the stems until the berries are protected by the foliage.
• Excess watering as fruit forms will result in watery strawberries.
• If you have not mulched the bed to conserve moisture, clean straw or wood shavings should be placed under developing fruit to keep it clean.

2 thoughts on “Strawberry tips

  1. It can be caused by watering, fertiliser, or even the time of year you planted them out, Green Change.
    It depends which climate you live in when plants produce runners. Our strawberry plants produce runners after cropping, and I hope that won’t be for a couple of months yet. If you live in a temperate or cool zone, it is a bit early for them to produce runners. They may produce more later, especially if you give them a light dose of complete fertiliser or some more compost.

  2. Thanks for the tips – very handy! I found that my strawberry plants didn’t do much in the first year. They mostly just put out runners. So in the first year they filled the bed with plants, then in the second year they really started producing and aren’t putting out very many runners.

    Is this normal? Or are the runners encouraged by something I did (watering regime, nutrient deficiency/excess, weather, etc)?

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