Gardening

How to grow strawberries

Loved by many, strawberries are one of the most desirable summer fruits and the easiest to plant and cultivate in a personal garden, whether in an extensive area of ​​land or in a pot on the balcony. Enjoy this experience …

Take strawberries

The strawberry (Fragaria vesca) is a perennial, low and small herbaceous, characterized by a leaf with three leaflets and small white flowers. There are two types of strawberries: sprouting (growing continuously between June and October) and non-sprinkling (producing strawberries only once a year between April and June). The former should be planted in the spring and the latter in late summer, preferably in August/ September. Despite wilting in autumn, the strawberry roots survive the coldest months of the year to flower again as soon as spring arrives.

The ideal conditions

To harvest the best and the most delicious of strawberries, your plants need a lot of direct sunlight, at least 6 hours a day, which makes a correct choice of the place for cultivation crucial. Additionally, strawberries do not tolerate either dry land or waterlogged soil, that is, a balance is necessary: ​​a soil that absorbs moisture well, but also allows water to drain. Strawberries bloom well in a soil with pH levels between 5.0 and 7.0, but the ideal levels are those between 5.3 and 6.5. It is also important that strawberries are planted away from the roots of large trees, so that they do not take over their water and moisture.

Prepare the land

Once the place of cultivation is chosen, it is necessary to prepare the land in order to verify that it does not contain any type of weeds, larvae or soil diseases. If you want to plant strawberries in an area that has already been grassed, this land must be cleaned and cultivated at least one year before planting. Strawberries should never be planted on the same land where tomatoes , peppers, aubergines or potatoes have been grown in the last three years , because diseases in these vegetables are very common. Strawberries can be grown in extensive cultivation or in defined beds, but they also flower both in pots (including suspended ones) and in open wooden pots or barrels.

Cultivation & Maintenance

  • It is recommended to plant strawberries on a cool and cloudy day, atmospheric conditions that put less stress on the plants to be transplanted – if you have to store the plants for some time before placing them in the soil, choose a cool place that does not receive light direct sunlight and keep the roots moist, but not soaked.
  • On the day of planting, remove any damaged roots and trim the largest ones so that they do not exceed 10-12cm in length; remove all flowers, stolons and old leaves, placing the strawberries in a container with a little water in the bottom while they wait for their turn to be planted in the soil.
  • Strawberries must be placed on the ground with the roots facing downwards, forming a kind of fan and with the middle of the crown of the plant at the level of the earth’s surface. If the strawberry is planted in shallow depth, the crown may dry out; if planted too deep, the crown may rot. Once positioned, compactly distribute the soil around the plant and water well.
  • To plant 30 strawberries (the ideal amount for a family of four, for example), a space of at least 9m long by 2.5m wide is required. The rows should be spaced about one meter apart and the strawberries should be planted with a distance of about 50 to 60 cm between them.
  • Strawberries need to be well watered at least once a week, or whenever the rainfall is less than 2.5 cm over a period of seven days. It is advisable to water in the early morning so that the leaves can dry out before nightfall, thus avoiding possible diseases. 

Magnificent Strawberry Tricks

  • The ideal production of strawberries and the consequent cultivation of exceptional strawberries happens when the soil temperature remains cooler. To achieve this, the “mulch” system is used, which is nothing more than implementing a protective layer of soil to preserve soil moisture, control weeds and keep the fruit clean. In the case of strawberries, it is recommended to place straw among the strawberries – this is an excellent trick that gardeners use to keep the fruits clean and dry and that they may have removed from their own English name since “strawberry” means precisely “Straw berry”.
  • There are also those who provide extra protection by placing anti-bird nets on the strawberries.
  • Keeping the soil free of weeds is crucial to ensure excellent strawberries and this activity should preferably be practiced by hand, due to the fragility of this fruit. If you prefer to use gardening tools, take special care around the roots of the strawberries.
  • A balanced fertilizer can contribute to good cultivation, so make the first application when planting and the second shortly after picking all the strawberries that year. In the following seasons, the first fertilization should take place at the beginning of each spring.
  • If you were not satisfied with the quality or flavor of the strawberries during a certain season, if the strawberry area is full of weeds or shows signs of disease, choose to renew it. This type of renovation can be done three or four times with positive results. Using a pair of scissors or a grass trimmer, cut the top of each strawberry without damaging its crown and let the fallen leaves dry before removing them. Narrow each row to a width of 20-25 cm, leaving half of the plants untouched (it is advisable to keep some young strawberries). The other half should be thinned, in order to shorten the distance between each one, to about 15cm. If you store too many plants, you risk growing much smaller strawberries and creating a disease-prone environment.

Catch to taste

Picking strawberries must be a delicate operation because strawberries are very fragile fruits: start by picking the foot above the strawberry with your thumb and index finger and pull with a slightly twisted movement; let the strawberry roll gently into your palm and repeat the process until you have picked up 3 or 4 strawberries. Place the strawberries carefully in a proper container, without overfilling it so as not to step on and damage the strawberries that are at the bottom. Spread the leaves well (taking care to see where your feet land) so as not to leave any strawberries behind, however only picking those that are completely red. Strawberries that show signs of sunburn, insect damage, that appear to be rotten or with any other defect must be removed and thrown away.

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