Strawberry Plant Care and Aftercare Guide

Strawberries

Welcome to the Tims Family Farm’s comprehensive guide to strawberry plant care and aftercare. In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to grow healthy and productive strawberry plants. From feeding and pruning to protecting your plants from frost and pests, we’ve got you covered. So let’s dive in!

Regular Feeding for Maximum Results

Regular feeding is essential for the best results from your strawberry bed. Simply adding fertilizer at planting time is not enough. An annual top dressing with growmore, bonemeal, or seaweed maxicrop will give you increased yields, better fruit quality, and healthier plants. The feed you added at planting time will quickly deplete or leach away through heavy rain. Therefore, it’s important to top it up at least once a year in early Spring and again in early Autumn after cutting back the plants. In late Summer or Autumn, trim away all the old foliage to reduce the presence of diseases and pests hiding in them. Cut the old growth near the crown to avoid loosening the plant in the soil.

Harvesting the Perfect Berries

Picking strawberries requires a gentle touch to preserve their perfection. Handle the berries by the stalk, and pinch the stem just above the calyx (the little ruff of leaves just above the berry) to detach them from the plant. Avoid hulling the berries while picking; it should only be done right before eating them. Make sure the berries are properly ripe, not too pale or too dark. Different varieties have different colors, so observation and experience will guide you to determine the optimum level of ripeness. Try to pick strawberries during cooler parts of the day, such as the first part of the morning or evening, and avoid picking them when they are wet.

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Protecting from Frost and Cold

Frost protection is crucial during flowering time. While strawberry plants themselves can tolerate cold conditions, the flowers are susceptible to frost damage. Frosted flowers can result in compromised fruit set and misshapen berries. To protect your plants, you can use a cloche or horticultural fleece during nights when frost is expected. Remember to remove the protection during the day to allow pollinating insects to visit the flowers. Placing newspaper over the plants on windless nights can also help prevent frost.

Keeping the Berries Clean

During fruiting, it’s important to keep the berries clean to ensure their quality. Heavy rain can splash mud on the fruits, leading to rot or botrytis. The easiest way to protect them is by spreading straw around the base of each plant. Straw is cheap, readily available, and can be raked away when clearing out the old growth in Autumn. For those who prefer alternatives, bark chippings or ground-cover matting can also be considered. Additionally, protecting the fruits from birds, wasps, and squirrels is essential. Consider using netting supported by pea sticks or invest in a fruit cage. Adequate irrigation is also crucial during the cropping season to ensure the heaviest crop and juiciest berries. Water around the base of the plant, avoiding wetting the leaves excessively to prevent fungal diseases.

Dealing with Pest Problems

Strawberry plants can attract pests like rabbits and deer. If you have issues with these animals, it’s important to be on guard and take preventative measures. Erect a fence or cover the plants to prevent further attacks, which can weaken and destroy the plants over time.

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Managing Runners for a Healthy Strawberry Patch

As your strawberries grow, they will produce new baby plants on the ends of runners. To prevent a congested and unruly strawberry patch, direct the new runners into any spare spaces or gaps in the rows. This will help fill those spaces and keep the paths between the rows clear. Remove excess runners by cutting them off and either discarding them or potting them up to create new beds. Remember, different varieties produce varying numbers of runners, so be mindful of the growth habits of your specific variety.

FAQs

Q: Can I grow strawberries in pots or containers?
A: Yes, strawberries can be successfully grown in pots or containers. Ensure that the chosen container has good drainage, and use high-quality potting soil. Place the pots in a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Q: When is the best season for strawberries?
A: The best season for strawberries varies depending on your location and the specific variety you are growing. Generally, strawberries thrive in cool weather, making spring and fall the ideal seasons for planting.

Q: How often should I water my strawberry plants?
A: Strawberry plants require regular watering, especially during hot and dry periods. Water deeply, ensuring that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Aim for about 1-1.5 inches of water per week.

Q: Can I grow strawberries from seeds?
A: While it’s possible to grow strawberries from seeds, most gardeners prefer to start with established plants called “runners.” Seeds take longer to germinate and produce fruit, so using runners is a more efficient way to grow strawberries.

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Conclusion

Growing and caring for strawberry plants can be a rewarding experience. By following proper feeding, pruning, and protection techniques, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious strawberries. Don’t forget to pay attention to the specific needs of your strawberry variety and adjust your care accordingly. Happy strawberry growing!

Visit Tims Family Farm for more information on our clean, organic, and nutritious fruits.