Growing organic strawberries
Love strawberries but worried about eating them or giving them to your kids, after all the bad press about the amount of chemicals they can contain? Want a great way of getting the kids engaged in growing something? Why not try growing your own organic strawberries- it’s easy!
Strawberries will grow in partial shade but thrive and crop much better in full sun. If you can supply enough water, then the hotter the spot they are in the better.
I have tried growing them in the ground without much success, as the fruit that touches the soil tends to rot and it is really hard to keep the snails, slugs, earwigs and the multiply other creatures that will devour you delicious strawberries, under control.
I have also tried hanging baskets, recycled cutter systems and several other methods without much success as they tend to dry out easily which stops fruit production.
I find container growing the best.
So now I like grow them in quite large pots (about 50cm to 60cms across and with a depth of 40cm to 50cm). This gives a sufficient surface area for 5 or 6 plants to grow well and enough depth of soil to give the plants plenty of space for good root development with access to water and nutrients. The added bonus is that many of the strawberries hang over the edge where they get lots of sun but are not in contact with the soil and away from any soil borne pests.
I have had four pot going this year and have been picking up to five punnets a week when they were in full production and about one punnet when things had slowed down. This has given me plenty of fruit to eat fresh and plenty to freeze to make delicious smoothies and sauces when I have enough.
Follow these easy steps to delicious organic strawberries
If you are a visual learning check out my Youtube video at
- Pots (to reduce you carbon footprint try recycling old pots or other types of large containers)
- Potting mix ( or produce your own compost ) Buy the best quality you can afford
- Cow and /or sheep manure
- Some kind of soft mulch ie sugar cane- this stops weeds, retains moisture and stops fruit coming in contact with the potting mix which can cause them to rot.
- Certified virus free plants- about 5 or 6 per pot
- Seaweed based fertiliser such as seasol and a poultry manure based fertilizer such as powerfeed
- Potting up
- Fill your pot to about ¾ full with potting mix
- Add a layer of manure
- Finish filling with potting mix, spread out evenly and press down till firm
- Top with mulch
- Make a small opening in the mulch and plant strawberry plants
- Water in well
Tip-Plant at intervals, say one pot a month, to spread your harvest.
Watering is crucial for good production, if you are time poor and cannot keep up with the watering think about setting up an irrigation system on a timer.
Water everyday till established – about two to three weeks
Then twice a week unless really hot then everyday
Water in the mornings before 9.00am
Fertilising properly is the secret to ongoing production. If you apply too much high nitrogen ratio fertiliser you will get leafy growth and runner production with no flowers and fruit.
So I recommend the following:
Apply ½ strength seaweed fertiliser twice a week for the first two weeks to encourage root growth to aid establishment.
Follow this with applications of ½ strength powerfeed fertiliser, twice a week for 3 weeks to encourage plenty of foliage that will be able to support good fruit production
Then, for the rest of the cropping season apply seasol once a week. Seasol has a high potassium ratio which encourages continual flower and fruit production.
If you want to know more about fertilising and the difference between high and low nitrogen ratios see my module on Plant nutrition and fertilising at: http://www.myproductivebackyard.com.au/product/plants-module-1/
You may need to put some snail and slug deterrents in your pots and you will certainly have to protect your crop from birds. See my U tube video on “growing organic strawberries” to see how to create a frame for netting your strawberries.
Remove runners as they develop, as they will grow at the expense of flowers and fruit.
In the winter when the plants become almost dormant, remove any dead foliage and re-mulch.
Plants will only crop well for 2 to 3 years so I have a system set up where I replant one pot in spring and one in autumn each year with new plants. This keeps production going and keeps the cost of replacement spread evenly rather than having to replace all 4 pots at once.
You should be able to have some production happening form September to May with loads of fruit in spring and autumn.
Happy gardening Kathy