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Growing strawberries

Posted: Wednesday 26 June 2013
by Pippa Greenwood

For the last few years, my strawberries have either suffered in the too-early-hot, dry weather, or have been demolished by slugs and snails...

I feel rather proud. This year, for the first time in ages, I seem to have a good crop of strawberries. I say ‘seem’, because the gardening fates may be listening in, and suddenly bring masses of wet weather to spoil it all.

For the last few years, my strawberries have either suffered in the too-early-hot, dry weather, or have been demolished by slugs and snails before they had a chance to ripen.

One year, I even lost most of my crop to voles. I could tell it was voles by the way they had made neat stacks of under-ripe strawberries on the ground around my strawberry plants. They cut the strawberries off the plants neatly, before they are even attractive to slugs, and collect miniature larders of them.

This year, I thought that the weather might be too cool for good strawberries. But, fantastically, there must have been just enough sun and, although later than usual, the crop is heavy (and extremely tasty).

About three or four weeks ago, to help prevent slug damage, I applied some nematodes to well-moistened soil around my strawberry plants, and it seems to have done the trick. The strawberry plants closest to the rhubarb (which is now at near triffid proportions) are always the ones most prone to slug and snail damage. These pests just love the dense, moisture-enhancing coverage the rhubarb makes. I also used copper-coated and copper-impregnated matting, which is brilliant stuff.

And finally, to give my strawberries an extra boost, I have been moving a rigid cloche around a plant at a time, to bring them on earlier than the rest. It’s amazing what a difference that extra bit of warmth makes.

So, who knows? This may well be the first year in ages that we have an excess of lovely, juicy fruits. I just have to keep my friends, the blackbirds, off them now.

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Talkback: Growing strawberries
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scousegarden 04/07/2013 at 11:54

Hi Pippa, was given a strawberry plant for mothers day but it just doesn't seem to b doing anything at all. Have got raspberries and blackcurrent but have not grown strawbs before, any tips?

Newcastle 05/07/2013 at 16:33

I have tried growing strawberries in a raised bed his year and planting through slits in weed suppressing woven mulch. It seems to help to discourage snails (of which there are a super-abundance this year on my plot) and obviously it helps water retention and controlling the weeds. Not a lot of fruit so far but I live in hope.

BobTheGardener 05/07/2013 at 19:15

scousegarden, strawberries ideally need planting in October and will produce the following July and August.  You might still get a few this year, but they won't crop properly until next summer, so don't give up on them - they will get better each year until they are about 3 or 4 years old, then they really need replacing as viruses build up in them.  If it throws out any runners (long thin shoots with little leaves on the end, pin the end down in a pot of compost with a U of bent wire and that will usually grow into a new plant - for free!  Once it has good roots, you can cut the runner from the mother plant.

Koalagirl 09/07/2013 at 23:55

My strawberries this year are the best I've ever had. Last year they all rotted before they went red but this year has been perfect. I haven't done anything different, I just think the gardening gods are smiling on strawberry growers this year. Mine are all in large pots and I give them regular doses of a certain famous liquid tomato food.

Jimbolena 11/07/2013 at 21:07

Hi my name is James. When in my early twenties, around June 1997 there was no work in Scotland so a bunch of us guys got fed up hanging around, decided to all go to Denmark strawberry picking, hard work but really great fun.
One of the jobs we had to do was,...on the really young plants was to cut of any fruit growth, I never asked the farmer why, I just assumed he wanted more energy to go to the leaves, this seemed to work because the fruit harvest he got was a glut!
He also used loads and loads of straw under the plants, again I didn't ask why and again I assumed it was to keep the fruit off the ground, stopping it from rotting.

Would this said straw deter slugs and snails, I feel it would...I really think it would be very uncomfortable for those guys, any thoughts anyone?


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