With Christmas only round the corner it seems odd thinking about strawberries and summer warmth but with the shortest day nearly upon us it will soon be time to think about summer planting and being organised now will pay off big time next June. I recommend buying small bare rooted plants readily available now online. Once they arrive, soak the roots in water overnight and plant in a window box or container 6“ apart, if using a hanging basket 3 – 5 plants will be sufficient. Make a hole with a trowel in the soil and carefully spread out the roots, leaving the crown of the plant on the soil surface, strawberries are shallow rooted so no need for deep pots. Plant too deep and they will rot, plant too high above the soil level and they will dry out and die. Once planted, water thoroughly. Do not let the containers dry out, water is the key to an abundant supply of tasty fruits next summer. During a hot summer it is best to water everyday. Once the plants are established and start to produce leaves next spring it is wise to add a slow release fertiliser to encourage lots of flowers and fruit. In June after a pretty show of white or pink flowers the fruits will begin to ripen, keep picking to encourage more fruits. The best varieties to grow in small spaces are alpine strawberries, smaller than the average strawberry but their flavour more than makes up for their size, try ‘Mignonette’ or the medium sized ‘Mount Everest’. As a rule of thumb strawberry plants will die after 3-5 years.
Top Tip: Remove any runners (trailing stems with baby plants forming) that the plants send out, this will not only conserve energy for emerging fruits but if you keep a couple back and pot up the young plants , these will be new free plants for the future!
If you are interested in growing vegetables, Parkers-Patch runs courses throughout the year to help you and your vegetables grow big and strong.