Strawberry Fields

strawberries211To enjoy sweet strawberries in spring and early summer, start preparing now.

There are 2 ways to grow strawberries:

  1. From healthy runners, removed from growing established plants
  2. Planting new strawberry plants obtainable from your favourite GCA garden centre

Strawberry plants are usually sold individually and are ideal for planting into vegetable or edible gardens. They also make excellent container plants!  

‘Strawberry Pots’ are large urn-shaped pots that contain several openings for plants. This is traditionally an excellent way to grow (& harvest) many strawberries from a relatively small area. Alternatively, strawberries are planted in rows in the vegetable garden or can be interspersed throughout edible gardens.  

Strawberry plants have a trailing growth habit. They are successfully grown in hanging baskets and the ‘runners’ they produce will ensure your harvest is extended for many additional weeks.

 

Success with strawberries:

Strawberries should be grown in full sun positions, in healthy soil enriched with compost and phosphates (super-phosphates or bonemeal). Strawberries require moderate watering, so when planting into rows it’s beneficial to mound the plants between furrows which will retain moisture. If you are planting into containers located in full sun positions, we highly recommend incorporating water holding granules to reduce the required watering frequency.

Plant into holes that are twice the size of the plant bag and ensure the planting depth is maintained. Water thoroughly after planting and feed weekly for the first month until the plants are settled.

Growing Tip: Strawberries do not like ‘wet feet’.

Harvest Tip: Ripe strawberries are soon spotted by birds, bugs (& hungry children!). The fruits ripen relatively quickly and it’s worthwhile to scan your harvest daily to ensure you get there first ☺!

Aftercare

Protect against snails and slugs with organic snail bait. As soon as flowering starts they can be given a dose of 3:1:5 SR fertiliser. Good companion plants for strawberries are spring onions, chives, borage, lettuce, French beans and beetroot.

Troubleshooting

  • To prevent ripening fruit from touching the soil and to keep it clean from soil being splashed onto it, you can use a mulch of straw around the plants.
  • Another way to protect the fruit and to keep weeds at bay is to cover the prepared planting areas with weed matting. Cut slits with a sharp knife, through which you can plant.
  • Replace strawberry plants every 3-4 years with fresh stock to prevent a build-up of plant disease.  
  • In subtropical areas (like the Lowveld and KZN coast), planting between March and April is best. In temperate areas, the recommended planting time is late winter or spring but almost any time of year is suitable to plant pot-grown plants from a nursery in these areas.

Edible arrangementscrw_9265

For this Valentine’s Day we decided to leave the traditional red roses for another day and create a bouquet of strawberries dipped in chocolate.

This arrangement is easy to put together. Start by melting a bar of lovely dark chocolate (2-3 minutes in a microwave, stirring every minute. Make sure it doesn’t over-heat). Dip one side of each strawberry, or cover the entire berry, and skewer each one on a wooden stick. Allow the chocolate to set. Treat the skewers as stems and arrange the strawberries as you would a posy, either tied together with a red ribbon or arranged in a pretty glass vase. Complete the look with coloured cellophane or tissue paper.

Red strawberries and chocolate – guaranteed to put a smile on a loved one’s face.

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