How do you grow strawberries? We’ll share our planting and growing tips. Let’s start with the best strawberry varieties.
Choosing Strawberry Varieties
By selecting a range of strawberry varieties you can spread your harvest from late spring through to early fall. Look for varieties described as ‘early-season’ to start, then choose a mid-season type, followed by a late-season strawberry.
For smaller quantities of strawberries produced over a long period, you could choose ‘everbearing’ varieties, also known as day-neutral or perpetual strawberries. These types are useful if you’ll be eating them fresh, but for making preserves, varieties that produce a lot of fruits over a shorter period are best.
Alpine strawberries have tiny fruits that have a very intense strawberry taste. They don’t fruit heavily, but they can be allowed to grow between ornamentals and will naturally self-seed to create a useful edible ground cover.
Our Garden Planner can help you choose the best strawberry varieties to grow. Double-click on the strawberry icon to view the Varieties box and then scroll down the drop-down list to select a variety, or click the + button and hover over the information buttons for catalog descriptions. You even customize your own variety with its own spacing and dates.
Strawberries will tolerate a partially shaded position, but grow them in a sunny spot for the best harvests. Add plenty of organic matter, such as well-rotted compost, before planting. Plant your strawberries so that the base of the crown (where the leaves emerge) is at soil level. Space them 18-24in apart in both directions.
Growing your strawberries in containers keeps the fruit off the ground where they are less likely to be nibbled by slugs. Fill the pots with rich potting soil and you can plant the strawberries a little closer together. Containers can dry out quickly, so pay close attention to watering.
To encourage a harvest of strawberries up to three weeks earlier than normal, cover early varieties with a cloche or row cover from the end of winter. When the plants are flowering, remove the covers on warm days to let insect pollinators in.
Use special strawberry mats to prevent dirt from splashing onto the developing fruits, or use an organic mulch such as straw.
Keep plants weeded and well watered. Water on an organic liquid fertilizer that’s high in potassium (such as comfrey tea or a tomato fertilizer) every two weeks from when the first flowers appear until they’ve finished fruiting.
In the first year remove any runners (long trailing stems) that appear. From the second year, you can leave a few runners to grow them on into new plants.
Keep slug numbers down using beer traps, and net the fruits against birds. Make sure to tuck netting in at the edges to prevent birds becoming trapped underneath.
Strawberries are ripe as soon as they’ve turned red. They taste best immediately after picking. Strawberries can be stored in a refrigerator after picking, but this does make them a little less flavorsome.
Once strawberries have finished fruiting, cut back the older foliage to leave just the young, central leaves. Add any straw mulch to your compost heap.