How to plant Strawberries

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gardening

How to plant strawberries


Stocks
Strawberries

Strawberries are subject to several serious virus
diseases, and at one time these threatened to make commercial
cultivation quite uneconomic and garden culture most
disappointing. However, there has been considerable
improvement in the general health of strawberry stocks
since the introduction of a government scheme of inspection.

It
is of the utmost importance to start with disease-free
stock and one should purchase from a grower with a good
reputation to maintain.

Site
Although the strawberry is of woodland origin, the
modern fruit requires all the sun it can get. On the
other hand, the site for the strawberry bed needs to
be sheltered, for cold spring winds can very seriously
check growth. The garden sloping gently towards the
south, unshaded but sheltered, will yield the earliest
crops.

Although
strawberries may be grown in most parts of the world,
late spring frosts may be a limiting factor. This can
be quite a local problem and if your garden lies in
a frost-pocket there is not much you can do about it
except to be ready to give some kind of protection with
cloches or plastic to plants in flower or to sidestep
the difficulty by growing only the so-called perpetual
fruiting types, removing the first trusses of blossom
and concentrating on late summer or autumn fruits.

Soil
Strawberries do best in a rich medium loam with
high humus content. Well-rotted leafmould is an excellent
material to incorporate in soils deficient in organic
matter, but any other decayed vegetable matter can be
used. The site needs to be well drained.

Heavy
clay, peaty and very light, sandy soils should be prepared
well in advance of planting time.

Soils
with a very high lime content are unsuitable for strawberries.

Preparation
Early preparation will not only assist soil improvement
but will also ensure freedom from perennial weeds, which
can be a considerable nuisance. When digging, rotted
farmyard or stable manure should be worked in, 5kg (10lb)
per sq. m sq. yd) being regarded as a normal ‘dose’
and twice this rate is recommended for poor, sandy soil.
Follow with a surface dressing of 28g (1oz) per sq.
m sq. yd) of sulphate of potash.

Where
no natural manure or garden compost is available 28g
(1oz) per sq. m sq. yd) each of superphosphate, sulphate
of ammonia and sulphate of potash should be sprinkled
over the bed after digging and lightly raked in. If
the soil is not already rich in humus, add up to half
a bushel of peat per sq. m sq. yd).

Planting
Strawberries are usually planted in beds, the rows
being 0.7 to lm (2? to aft) apart, the plants 38 to
46cm (15 to 18in) apart in the rows, according to the
richness of soil. One reason for early soil preparation
is that the soil should be firm.

Summer-fruiting
strawberries may be planted either in the late summer
to early autumn or even in the spring, provided that
in the latter instance all blossom is removed the first
summer. The earlier plants can go out, the bigger and
stronger plants they will make their first year-so,
if you can obtain plants so early, plant in July, August,
or even September, but October is late.

The perpetual-fruiting
varieties can also be planted in autumn but rooted runners
are not available so early. However, as they have time
to catch up in spring, October planting is quite satisfactory,
provided the soil is properly, a workable and will break
down to a – friable tilth. On cold, heavy soils the
planting of perpetual strawberries is probably better
deferred until spring.

When
ordering, for preference stipulate plants which have
been rooted in pots. These will be slightly more expensive
but they will transplant more readily, with less root
damage, and they will have better root development.

Use
a trowel for planting and take a hole out for each plant
deep enough to accommodate the roots without bending
them. Then return a little soil at the center of the
hole to make a mound on which the strawberry plant can
‘sit’ with its roots spread evenly around it.

The
base of the crown should be just at soil level: if it
is too high, roots are exposed and dry out, resulting
in eventual death of the plant; while if the crown is
half buried, it will either produce unwanted weak secondary
growths or rot away entirely.

Plant
firmly, using the handle of the trowel as a hammer.
As you proceed, see that the roots of plants waiting
their turn are not exposed to the wind. Finally, rake
the bed smooth and give a good watering to settle the
soil.

Follow
up
Keep an eye on the weather and the state of the
soil because many strawberry plants are lost or seriously
retarded by the effect of drought during the weeks immediately
after planting. Also inspect the bed after hard weather,
and refirm with your boot any plants, which have been
lifted by frost action.

In
the early spring scatter fertilizer dressing down the
rows at the rate of 56g (2oz) per sq. m sq. yd). This
is made up of 1 part of sulphate of potash, 1 part of
sulphate of ammonia and 2 parts of superphosphate (all
parts by weight). Be careful that these fertilizers
do not go on the leaves, and gently rake them into the
surface soil. Then apply light mulch of well-rotted
farmyard manure, garden compost or peat to help to preserve
soil moisture in the event of a spring drought but be
prepared to water as well when necessary.

Timing
the fruit
When, in the spring following planting,
the first blossom buds appear, you have to make a major
policy decision. First-year flowers on maiden plants
will give the earliest crop and the largest individual
berries, but if you remove this first year’s blossom
and wait until the second crop, the yield will then
probably be greater than the total of two years’ crops
on plants fruiting in their first season.

If
you are very anxious to secure early fruit and if you
are going to protect them with cloches or polythene
tunnels, and then first-year blossom should be left
on. Indeed, where earliness is considered all-important,
the strawberries may be treated as an annual crop and
a fresh batch of earlies planted every year, to be dug
up and burned immediately after harvesting. In such
instances, strawberries may take their place in the
regular annual rotation of the vegetable garden.

Where
size of crop is considered more important than earliness,
and the plants are deblossomed in their first year,
there is every prospect of the strawberries continuing
to yield well for three years, possibly for four.

The
perpetual-fruiting varieties, in fact, bear at least
two distinct crops. In the first year after planting,
the first batch of blossom should be removed to give
the plants a chance to gain size and
strength.
Blossom appearing after the end of June is allowed to
develop and the fruit will be ripe from late summer
onwards. In subsequent years, you have the choice between
two crops, one in June and one in autumn, and one, larger
crop, earlier in autumn or in late summer.

Not
long after the berries begin to develop, runners will
appear. Unless these are required for propagation they
should be cut off at once with scissors so as not to
waste the plant’s energies. With early-rooted plants
set out early, runners may even be produced in the first
autumn and these should certainly be removed. Perpetual
fruiting varieties tend not to produce runners so freely
as the summer-fruiting kinds, but nevertheless these,
too, should usually be removed unless required for increase.

Protection
Before the first ripening strawberries are heavy
enough to weigh the trusses down to the soil, some kind
of protection is necessary to prevent the berries being
splashed by mud. The traditional method is to lay straw
on the soil, barley straw being more easily tucked close
to the plants than the
stiffer
wheat straw and less liable to be a carrier of pests
than oat straw. Before putting down the straw, weed
by gentle hoeing, handweeding, or spot application of
weed killer.

You
should not be in too much of a hurry to put down the
straw because, as it is light in color, it loses heat
rapidly and increases the risk of radiation frost damage
to open blossom or tiny fruitlets.

Straw,
however, is not always easy to obtain, and you can buy
patented strawberry mats or specially made wire supports
which hold the berries clear of the soil. Even a scattering
of peat is better than nothing.

Slugs
can do much damage in a strawberry bed and slug bait
pellets should be scattered freely among the plants
and kept renewed as necessary during the fruiting season.

Picking
Out
of doors the first berries are likely to ripen
between four and six weeks from when the blossom opened.
The fruit should be picked by taking the stem about
1cm (0.5in) behind the berry between finger and thumb.
In this way the berry can be broken off without being
touched.

Fruit Trees for your garden:

Apple tree
Apricot
Blackberry
Cherry Tree
Currants
Gooseberry
Grapes
Loganberry
Peach & Nectarine trees
Pear Trees
Plum tree

Raspberries
Strawberries


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