Strawberries are possibly the plant, or fruit that just about everybody wants to grow. And with the extortionate price of these fruits in the shops and the deliciousness of these rich red fruits, it’s no wonder that everyone wants to grow them. When a bowl of strawberries at Wimbledon contains a handful of fruit (usually ten) and costs in the region of £2.50 you can start to understand the intrinsic value of these fruits.
But the benefits to growing your own strawberries are much more than the financial considerations. Homegrown strawberries taste delicious. Be honest, the last time you bought a punnet of strawberries were you blown away by their flavour, or rather disappointed by the watery taste. I honestly can’t remember when I last ate a really tasty shop bought strawberry.
Plus the humble strawberry is in the Dirty Dozen list which are the twelve most contaminated and sprayed fruits and veggies. http://www.fullyraw.com/dirty-dozen-clean-15/
Which means unless you buy organic, and they can be hard to find, your strawberries will undoubtedly have been dressed with a cocktail of chemicals to grow them. And that my gardening friends is why it really is worth growing your own strawberries.
Easy to grow
Strawberries are easy to grow, but if you want a bumper crop you will need a decent strawberry patch and you do need to keep on top of pests, the biggest being the dastardly slugs, and diseases, of which the fungi can be the greatest challenge. Having said that, the resulting harvest will grow year on year and the flavour of homegrown, unsprayed strawberries is unsurpassable.
You might only get a handful of fruit each day from a few plants but by making the very best of each and every one.
Where a bowlful of tasteless fruits does nothing to lift your spirits, one freshly picked strawberry from your own strawberry patch can send your tastebuds into virtual orbit. There is nothing better than a ripe, warm strawberry to rocket launch your flavour receptors and remind us what homegrown fruit should really taste like. Even two or three fruit cut up and used as a topping for yoghurt, a bowl of cereal or even a salad completely transforms the offering and makes the effort of growing strawberries worth every moment.
For the best results
Grow them in large planters with the fruits overhanging to keep them free of the wet soil and protect from slugs and snails using wildlife friendly traps or organic slug controls where necessary. Mulch around the plants with straw or special strawberry mats to keep the fruits clean.
Remember that to get good strawberries your plants need pollinators, so if you grow them under fleece, netting or glass you need to remove it while the plants are in flower to ensure pollinators can reach the flowers.
Keep a look out for mould, especially grey mould and botrytis and remove any fruits that are affected.
Free strawberry plants
The plants are easy to grow and flower prolifically in early summer, forming fruits that swell and ripen in the summer sun. In summer each plant will produce runners with baby strawberry plants on the ends, choose your best plants and pot up the runners from these. These young plants can be grown on to extend your strawberry patch. Remove runners from all the rest to concentrate the plants energy back to the mother plant. If you have too many then share them with gardening friends or give them to the local school to encourage the children to grow their own strawberries.
Images © Martin Mulchinock