Thursday, September 1, 2011

Growing strawberries

It's officially Spring! What better way to celebrate the warmer months than headings outdoors and embracing nature?

Spring is a great time to get stuck into gardening. It's also a great time for strawberries.

There are plenty of different ways of growing strawberries including from seeds, runners or in pots or hanging baskets. There are a number of strawberries varieties including Millewa, Lowanna, Kiewa, Adina and Tallara. What they all have in common is a delicious sweet taste.

Here's what you need to know when it comes to growing strawberries

The basics
Strawberries love the sun and welldrained soil so choose a spot where they will be well accommodated. Strawberries can be grown at all times of the year. You'll find most strawberries flower in spring. Set fruit which is harvested late spring/early summer, send runners out in summer and become dormant in winter. There are also varieties that flower throughout the year and in the colder months.

Starting off
When growing strawberries, firstly ensure you buy certified-disease free plants from the nursery. Strawberries can become susceptible to virus disease after a few years so this is a good way to avoid this.

Growing strawberries from seeds
If you decide that you will be growing strawberries from seeds, firstly buy a seed raising mix. Again, this is due to strawberries' sensitivity to pests and diseases potentially present in the soil. Fill a seed tray with the mix and level the soil before sowing the seeds onto the surface Cover the seed tray with a plastic dome to keep the mix moist. Strawberries like sunlight so place in a sheltered spot that gets the morning sun.

Growing strawberries from seeds isn’t your only option. Strawberries can be grown from runners. This is the natural way strawberries reproduce in which the old plants produce new smaller plants each summer. To find new plants, simply follow the runners along until you get to a point where the new plant is forming. Separate and uproot and there you have it – a new, well developed strawberry plant!

Caring for your strawberries
Remember to water your strawberries well, especially when the young plants are establishing, and during dry summers. Surround each plant with a layer of straw mulch so the fruit does not spoil by touching the soil.

Harvesting
Remember, human aren’t the only ones that love strawberries. Be aware of birds, snails and slugs. You might have to consider snail pellets or netting to keep away pests. Then, just wait until the strawberries are red before picking to ensure outstanding flavour. Now you can sit back, relax and enjoy your strawberries. The good news is during summer, it’s not uncommon to harvest every day or two. Bon appetit!

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