How to Grow Strawberries

Strawberry background. Red ripe organic strawberries on market

How to Grow Strawberries

Strawberries are super easy to grow and if you choose your varieties wisely (there are early, mid- and late-season varieties) you can eat delicious juicy fruit all summer long. Alternatively, everbearing strawberries, also called perpetual varieties crop on and off throughout the summer, producing smaller fruits. Strawberries grow very well in the ground, in pots, growing bags, window boxes, hanging baskets, strawberry planters and in your Harvst greenhouse! 

Although strawberries are perennial plants they tend to only produce a good crop for 3-5years and need to be replaced after that.

Sowing/Planting 

Strawberries are not generally grown from seed but instead propagated from runners. You can therefore buy strawberries as pot-grown plants in summer, or as runners in spring or autumn.

Strawberries grow very well in pots but choose one that is at least 15cm wide and deep. Plant one strawberry per pot using a good peat-free multipurpose compost. As they thrive in moist but well-drained conditions, put a layer of gravel or broken crocks in the base. 

Bare-root plants have lots of long roots and short, often brown, leaves on top. They may look almost dead but do not worry! It is very important that the crowns are set just level with the soil surface and that the roots are spread out when planting. 

If you are growing your strawberries in the ground, prepare the soil by digging in plenty of well-rotted garden compost or manure. Plant the strawberries 40cm apart, in rows 75-100cm apart and firm the soil around them. Water and keep well watered for the first few weeks as they establish.

Plant care 

In May or June put straw around your plants under the fruiting trusses. This will keep the strawberries clean and reduce rotting which can happen when soil is splashed onto the strawberries. 

When growing out of the ground it is good to encourage flowers and fruit set by feeding with a liquid high potash feed every week from early spring onwards. This may also be needed if you are growing in the ground and your soil is not very rich. 

Water your strawberry plants regularly, especially in hot weather when new plants are establishing or when the fruits start to swell. However, avoid splashing soil onto the plants, any ripening fruits and wetting the centre so as to avoid mould.

Strawberries can be netted to deter birds and small mammals from eating the fruits. This needs to be stretched and fixed properly as birds, hedgehogs, and other animals can become trapped and die. You also want the holes large enough for pollinators to access the strawberry flowers. 

You can grow strawberries in your Harvst but you need to either have it open when they flower so that the bees can pollinate or you can hand pollinate the flowers with a little brush or your finger. Simply move it around going from one flower to the next. 

Once fruiting has finished, remove any netting and any runners (small plants developing from the main plant).

Harvesting 

Wait until the berries are fully red all over for the best flavour. However, if you find that some other animal gets there before you it may be worth picking them just before they are fully ripe.

Watch out! 

Protect the developing fruit from slugs and snails and it can help to lay down straw around each plant. Positioning a net over the plants will also prevent birds stealing the fruit. However, if you grow your plants in the Harvst it should not be a problem!

Grey mould can be a problem on strawberries, especially in wet weather or if you water so that soil splashes onto the fruit. It is best to water the plants in the morning and keep the soil around your plants clear. Quickly remove any damaged fruits to prevent the mould spreading.

Pro Tip

Create new plants by taking care of the runners! Dig them up and pot them up for a few months before planting them out in the Autumn. 

Nerdy facts

Strawberries are actually not berries at all! Instead a strawberry is a multiple fruit which consists of many tiny individual fruits embedded in a fleshy receptacle. The brownish looking seeds on the outside are the true fruits, called achenes, and each of them surrounds a tiny seed. Instead, eggplants, tomatoes and avocados are botanically classified as berries!

Recommended Varieties

There are many varieties of strawberries but try to look for early, mid, and late season varieties to have fruits for longer. Everbearer varieties are great for small spaces as you only need one variety to get strawberries throughout the summer.