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How to grow strawberries from mail-order runners

Overview

When buying strawberries, you have a choice between pot-grown plants (limited varieties are available during summer at garden centres and nurseries) or runners. Pot-grown plants have the advantage of being grown on and should fruit well in their first year, regardless of type. They are, however, more expensive.

Runners, available as freshly dug plants in autumn or as cold-stored plants from early spring, are the cheaper, more traditional way to buy strawberry plants. However, the time of planting affects their yield. Plant too late in autumn and the winter cold might inhibit establishment; too early in spring and the first year crop will be small.

The best time to plant is in spring, when the soil warms up. The plants will have plenty of time to get established before winter and will produce a good crop in their first year.


How to do it

Raking a strawberry bed

1

Choose a site with sun for at least half the day. Fork in 3-4 shovels of well-rotted compost per square metre and rake the plot level.


Mail order runner

2

As soon as your runners arrive, unwrap and soak in tepid water for a few minutes before planting. If this is not possible, runners can be kept in the fridge for a few days; just keep the roots moist.


Planting runner

3

Plant runners 30-38cm apart, with the crown at soil level – too deep and the plant will rot, too high and the crown will dry out. Use your fingers to firm the soil around the roots.


Watering runners

4

Keep the plants well watered during dry weather. Remove flowers from summer varieties in their first year to allow plants to establish. Flowers can be left on perpetuals to fruit later in the season.





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