If you want fresh strawberries in your garden this summer it's time to plant! Here is my easy guide with 5 quick tips, plus answers to some common questions to help you grow the best strawberries this season!
The great thing about growing strawberries is that they are really easy! You can pretty well just plant them and let them do their thing but to ensure you get the most out of your strawberry plants I've got 5 quick tips for success and I've also answered some common questions that you may have when it comes to growing strawberries.
5 quick tips for growing great strawberries
- Plant them in winter
- Choose a sunny spot
- Plant 5 plants per person
- Protect from birds & slugs
- Mound up the soil or use straw
Strawberry planting FAQ's
What is the best time of year to plant strawberries?
The best time to plant strawberries in New Zealand is in winter. Any time from June-September for warmer climates and August/September for cooler climates (somewhere it snows!). Strawberries need to time to get established before they produce fruit so planting them in winter means that they will be ready to fruit this summer. Most plants require planting either morning or evening to help avoid transplant shock but this is more common in summer when it is hot in the middle of the day, so in winter I don't worry about this.
What conditions do strawberries do best in?
Strawberries require a nice sunny spot and well draining soil. Some shade is fine, as is a polytunnel or grow house. They also need a bit of room, so plant them around 30-40cm apart from each other.
Do I need to use pea straw or hay?
You don't need to, but I've found putting pea straw or hay around the base of the plants does a great job at keeping the berries off the ground and nice and clean. It also seems to make it harder for the slugs and snails to get to them and easier to pick them!
Do I need to protect my strawberries from birds and or bugs?
YES! There is nothing worse than watching those delicious berries slowly ripen and then going out to pick them only to find that the birds or slugs have beaten you to it. Covering your plants will protect them from the birds. It doesn't need to be fancy - even just an old net curtain will do the trick! And you don't need to worry about covering them until the fruit starts to appear and ripen, but best to get ahead of the game and sort it now. Check out Pinterest for plenty of other creative ideas for covers.
For slugs and snails, you can use slug and snail pellets as long as you don't have hungry dogs or toddlers roaming around. I've used them in the past and they are very effective at pest control. For a more natural approach, try beer traps - dig a hole the size of a small plastic cup in the soil, place the cup in the hole and fill it with beer to attract the slugs and snails. It actually works extremely well, just make sure to empty the cup and replace the beer every so often - it can get pretty nasty!
How long does it take for a strawberry plant to produce fruit?
If you plant your strawberry plants now (winter) they will produce fruit this summer.
How long can you keep strawberry plants for?
Strawberry plants will keep producing year after year. A lot of people say you should replace them every 3 years but I've found they actually go longer than that. They produce well in the first year and then do even better year 2 and 3. You may notice that production starts to slow after this but they will still produce.
Do strawberries need to be planted in a garden?
No! Strawberries are one of those amazing plants that will do well almost anywhere, as long as they are in a sunny spot with well draining soil. Planter boxes, hanging baskets, a plastic flexi tub or even just straight in the bag of strawberry mix!
Do you need to use special strawberry fertiliser?
You definitely don't need anything other than good quality soil to plant your strawberries in, however using specially formulated strawberry mix or fertiliser may help you grow healthier plants that produce better. In saying that, I have always just put strawberries in the ground and left them to it and they've always done really well so it's completely up to you. Adding extras will only benefit the plants so it's definitely worth a try. Or even do what I'm doing and experiment - try half of the strawberry plants with strawberry mix and half without and see what happens. If nothing else, this is a fun experiment to do!
Happy strawberry growing!