Strawberry is a perennial plant. Its delicious fruits, rich in minerals, vitamins and low in calories, are very popular with young and old. There are about 500 varieties, some are repeat-flowering, others non-flowering. The first give strawberries only once a year which are harvested in summer, the others bear fruit again between August and October. Let’s see how to grow this somewhat demanding plant, whether in the ground or in a pot, to enjoy a bountiful harvest.
Plant a strawberry
The strawberry plant likes to be installed in a acid to neutral soil whose pH is between 6.5 and 7.5 but also rich in humus. It is recommended to plant the strawberry in a silico-clay soil. Absolutely avoid limestone soils because they become waterlogged. As far as her situation is concerned, she must be moderately shaded for small-fruited strawberries and very sunny for varieties with large strawberries.
Is the spring that we plant our four seasons strawberries. All other varieties should be planted between the end of August and the end of September so that the young plants have time to put down roots before the winter cold.
To have the best chance of growing strawberries successfully, start by preparing the land a good four weeks before planting. The task consists of ploughing, eliminating all the weeds and then burying a basal fertilizer and one well-rotted manure. But be careful, it is better to choose an area of the garden where strawberries have not been planted for 4 or 5 years.
Here’s what you need to know to successfully planting a strawberry plant. It is advisable to cultivate them in two rows 40 to 50 cm apart in order to facilitate the harvest of the strawberries but also the maintenance of the plants. The soil must be well aerated, weeded, loosened, amended with compost and levelled.
Must also butter over a height of 20 cm and a width of 65 cm, respecting a space of approximately 60 cm between two mounded rows. This precaution is especially necessary if the ground is impermeable because ridging limits the risk of excess water at root level.
To plant a strawberry plant, the method is the following :
- Make holes with the trowel a little larger than the clods, spacing them about 35 cm apart,
- Wet the ground,
- Place each strawberry plant in a hole with a bulb dibbler, taking care that the roots are not raised (hence the interest of digging fairly wide holes) and ensuring that the collar is just flush with the level of the floor,
- fill in the holes,
- Compact the soil sufficiently and dig a watering basin around the plants.
It remains only to water generously.
Sowing, layering and stump division are the different methods of strawberry propagation.
It is noted that the strawberry seedlings is only possible for the Four Seasons varieties, in June, in terrines that are installed in the shade. It is important to keep the substrate moist but not excessively to allow emergence in two weeks. The period of transplanting under frame intervenes then as soon as the seedlings have formed 3 leaves, and the young plants are kept under cover until spring since it is between March and April that they will finally have to be installed in their final location.
Since all other strawberries cannot be sown, they can be propagated by layering or by dividing the stumps.
By layering the runners
Stems are called stolons, at the end of which a new plant with roots develops. This method is therefore very simple since it suffices to transplant the shoots between spring and the end of August to benefit from an abundant harvest when the time comes. In addition, this method avoids the exhaustion of the mother plant by too many runners.
At the start, we do not cut the stolon but we plant each seedling in a small pot, preferably biodegradable, containing 1/3 of sand, 1/3 of compost and 1/3 of compost, then we place it very close to the mother plant. . We do not cut the stolon for separate the daughter’s foot from the mother’s foot only when new leaves have formed. All that remains is to transplant the young plant into previously well-amended soil, either in the ground or in a planter, without taking it out of its pot if it is biodegradable.
By division of strains
This is the method used for all varieties of strawberries that do not produce runners. Each new foot obtained by separating a stump into two or three is to be replanted according to the classic planting method.
Maintain your strawberries
Demanding, the strawberry plant needs to be taken care of.
Very water greedy, the strawberry plant is watered regularly because its soil must always remain moist. It is essential for it to develop and produce strawberries. Watering (with collected rainwater if possible) every 6 days from planting is necessary, sometimes more frequently if it does not rain because the soil should never be dry between two waterings. During a heat wave, do not hesitate to water your strawberries every day. The best time is early morning because it attracts gastropods less than in the evening. Be careful not to wet the leaves!
Mulching (straw, pine bark, etc.) is a good solution for limiting the development of unwanted weeds and protecting strawberries against disease. It must be installed before flowering. This also keeps them clean and prevents strawberries from coming into contact with the ground, which can damage them.
The same results are obtained if you plant your strawberries on a opaque non-woven plastic film which attaches at regular intervals with metal hooks.
And nitrogen-rich fertilizer can boost the restart of vegetation in the spring, for strawberries that have spent the winter in the ground. The fertilizer is diluted in the irrigation water for better distribution if the strawberries are planted on a plastic film. For those grown directly on the ground, the fertilizer must be spread manually on slightly moistened soil and between the clumps, then scratch the surface lightly so as not to injure the strawberry plants.
A contribution of special strawberry fertilizer is essential for remontant varieties, just after the first strawberry harvest. This will allow you to enjoy a nice second production a little later.
In November, you have to prune all stolons at 5cm. The strawberries are then left undisturbed until the end of winter. When spring begins, it’s time to remove faded leaves and dry stems, but also to hoe the soil to loosen it and eliminate weeds more easily.
Pests and diseases
The strawberry plant is quite vulnerable. It is therefore essential to renew at least part of your strawberry plants every 3 years, or even every 4 years at the most.
- aphids : they transmit viral diseases to strawberries.
- Gastropods (snails, slugs) : they rage in spring and autumn, devouring the tender leaves but also the fruits in which they dig holes. These enemies must be removed manually and pine needles placed at the foot of the plants to hinder the movement of the gastropods. Of the slug pellets for organic farming are also very useful.
- The speckled wheatgrass : it is also called strawberries. It is an arthropod, resembling a centipede, which feeds on fruits. Too much humidity favoring its growth, mulch is a good preventive solution.
- Gray rot or botrytis : this disease is recognizable at browning followed by stuffed pig on rotting strawberries. Avoid wetting the leaves during watering to prevent botrytis and as a preventive measure, add special organic strawberry fertilizer.
- mildew : this disease is favored by heavy soils. This is why the soil must be lightened when planting strawberries. Downy mildew causes rotting roots and the withering plants, requiring them to be uprooted as the disease quickly spreads to other plantations.
At the start of strawberry flowering, many gardeners apply a fungicide and insecticide treatment so as not to risk seeing their strawberry plants fall ill, which would put all production at risk.
Harvest strawberries from your garden
Everbearing strawberries are those that produce the earliest strawberries, which can therefore be harvested from May, knowing that a second harvest is to be expected from mid-August. As for strawberries from non-remontant varieties, they are to be picked in June and July.
It is very important to consume the strawberries as soon as possible after picking because these fruits spoil quickly. We remove the tails only when eating these fragile fruits. While waiting to taste them, we can therefore store the unwashed and unstemmed strawberries in a room where the temperature is quite fraîche but they will not keep for more than 24 to 36 hours under these conditions. Protection against insects is essential, such as a clean tea towel or a very fine net. Otherwise, even if strawberries don’t like the cold, you place your harvest in a perforated plastic container that you place in the vegetable basket of the refrigerator. But it will be necessary to consume its strawberries within 48 or 72 hours. Finally, whatever the method of conservation, the strawberries harvested are checked morning and evening in order to eliminate without delay those which show mold.