Different strawberry varieties
First things first! If you want to grow strawberries, your first step should be to figure out what kind of strawberry you will use.
Each variety has its own pros and cons – there are those that grow only during a certain season, there are those that grow all year round. Some varieties are incredibly ‘productive’ (as in they produce more fruits per plant), while others are big on flavour. There are even ‘damage-resistant’ types!
Below are some of the most common types of strawberries grown in Australia:
- Rubygem: ‘evergreen’ production, medium rain damage resistance; large, dark red fruits; medium acidity
- Tallara: extremely productive from October-June; large, deep red fruits
- Kalinda: produces from October-June; medium adaptability; large, red fruits
- Bunyarra: low productivity from October-June; beautiful flavour and appearance
- Adina: best combination of taste, aroma, and appearance; low acidity
If you don’t necessarily like strawberries but you’re an avid gardener, there are even varieties that make for good ‘companion plants’ to the other plants in your garden! Alpine strawberries are drier and smaller than the strawberries you might be used to getting from the store, but they make for excellent ground cover, suppress weeds, and protect your soil from erosion.
What you need for growing strawberries
Most of the items you need to successfully plant strawberries can be found at your local Target, Bunnings, or other hardware/gardening store. Here are some of the things you should prepare:
- Well-drained, nutrient-rich soil in your backyard or in large pots
- Strawberry seeds or strawberry planter pots
- A spot with lots of sunlight (e.g. windowsills or gardens)
- Planting tools (gloves, trowel, rake)
Strawberry growing season: when to plant strawberries
Strawberries are, in most cases, a cool-weather plant. In most places, that means planting from April to May, or from mid-to-late spring. In temperate Australia, the best time to plant it would be in spring or autumn, when the weather is much more favourable. Growing strawberries in late winter is also okay since strawberries have a relatively high resistance to cold temperatures.
Where to put your strawberry plant
One of the best things about the strawberry plant is that it’s pretty versatile and adaptable to different spaces. Although it’s ideal to have a lot of space in your garden or raised beds to plant strawberries, you can still grow your own strawberries without it.
You can create a ‘vertical garden’ by using hanging strawberry planters on your walls and/or windowsills. You can also use large containers such as terracotta strawberry pots. Some people have even found success in growing strawberries in PVC pipes around their homes!
How to plant strawberries: growing tips
Follow these handy tricks and techniques, and you’ll have fresh berries throughout the harvesting season. Here’s the best way to grow strawberries:
- Make sure that the soil you use is well-drained, fertilised (using compost or mulch), and slightly acidic. You can use seed raising mixes or specially-formulated potting mix for strawberries.
- Strawberry plants need sun, but be careful to expose it to too much hot sunlight. If your area experiences extremely hot summers, place it somewhere with a little bit of shade.
- Strawberries require enough space to grow, so if you’re planting multiple seeds, make sure to space them at least 30cm apart.
- If you’re planting runners, set the crown at soil level to prevent rotting.
- Water strawberry plants regularly to prevent it from drying out, but avoid watering the leaves. Water directly into the soil or pot.
How long do strawberries take to grow?
Several factors can affect how long it takes for your strawberry plants to bear fruit, including what variety you plant and its growing conditions. In most cases, it takes about 2-4 months from planting and about 4-6 weeks from blossoming before your strawberries are ready to be harvested.
How to harvest strawberry plants
- Only harvest strawberries that are fully ripe and brightly-coloured.
- Strawberries can bruise pretty quickly if you don’t handle it with care. Pull them gently from the plants when harvesting. If possible, harvest during a cool time of the day.
- Snap the fruits off above the stem to avoid ‘opening’ the fruit – this leaves it vulnerable to bacteria.
How long do strawberry plants last?
Strawberry plants aren’t ‘perennial’ plants, which means that they eventually stop producing fruits. Strawberry plants have about 5-6 years before they ‘run out’ of fruits, but production will significantly decrease after the first or second cycle. This is why most commercial growers replace their strawberry plants after 1-2 years.
But if you want to keep planting, you don’t necessarily have to buy new seeds. Strawberries grow ‘runners’, which are little twigs that grow out of the plant to create ‘new’ plants. You can transplant these strawberry runners to grow more fruits, or put them up for sale if you have too many.
Turn your backyard into a strawberry garden
Strawberries are delicious, juicy, and refreshingly sweet. They’re great to grow at home too, although they require some time and effort to get great results. Happy planting!
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