Even if you don’t have a green thumb there are some plants that will survive almost anything.
Having live plants in and around your home creates a vibrant and engaging feel that can be used every day for healthy living or can really help improve first impressions if you are selling a home.
Growing strawberries is one of those garden plant options that can really make your home pop with very little effort. They also don’t need a big amount of space which means a small garden, planter box, hanging baskets and individual pots are all on the cards as options for strawberry patches.
Probably the best part is, as your strawberries ripen, you get an incredible burst of colour that looks and tastes delicious.
And who knows, once you see how successful your strawberries are you might feel inspired to move on to cucumbers, sunflowers and watermelons.
Free strawberry plants
While you can buy young strawberry plants ready to transfer to your home garden or pot from your grower or nursery, you can actually get some free plants as well if you happen to know anyone with strawberries.
Strawberry plants self-grow from runners. Simply find a long vine-like stem that is running off the plant looking for its own private patch to call home. These look much different to the rest of the strawberry leaves, which stay together in a cluster. Trim this vine close to the plant and put the cut end in soil.
Be careful not to plant it too deep, the idea is that it would get started naturally on its own so there is no need to dig a hole and make it comfortable. Planting too deep will cause your runner (and even your young strawberry plants) to rot. For seedlings, make sure you keep the bushy leaves above the soil when you transfer them
The added bonus of runner strawberries is they produce fruit much sooner than the seedling option. You’ll have berries popping up in months, whereas seedlings may take a full year to fruit properly, although you will see some immature berries come and go before then.
Once your own strawberry plants are established you’ll need to trim any runners that sprout out to avoid overcrowding. You can replant and extend your patch or give away your runners to friends and family.
When to plant
If you’re like me, living in southern NSW where the cold has a bit of bite, then planting time for your strawberries is late winter to early spring. This way your berries will ripen to the full sun of summer giving them that delicious red hue and vibrant taste. Expect your berries to be ready for picking in summer and early autumn, unless your plants are well established, then you might get some ripe strawberries in spring as well.
If you live in the more northern states and territories the best time for you to plant is between March and April, at the end of the rainy season. Subtropical climates will see harvest in winter to early summer.
Buy some quality soil
Strawberries will grow in any soil you already have but to get a really quality crop that will have your tastebuds singing it’s best to enrich your soil with compost (organic matter). You won’t need much and it’s not a big cost. Having compost turned through your garden will be good fuel for any other plants you introduce prior to a home sale, or if you just simply want to keep improving your garden going forward.
Use the Sun
Strawberries love the sun so plant them in an area that gets plenty of it. If you have your strawberry plants in pots, baskets or indoors, think about moving them around the house and yard to get the best warming rays.
How to water
The best way to water your strawberries is from the side of the plant or by getting the water source in under the leaves. Strawberry plants don’t much like a shower so avoid watering the whole plant and getting the leaves wet. Wet leaves can cause fungal disease, which will wipe out your crop. It is best to water your strawberries early in the morning so any leaves or berries that do get wet can dry off in the sun during the day.
Birds love strawberries
That bright red colour will draw in a crowd hungry birds so cover your outdoor strawberry plants with netting or there won’t be many left for you to eat.
Placing a bed of straw or mulch around your strawberry patch will be enough to keep creepy crawlies at bay, although snails, slaters and bugs will have a hard time reaching hanging baskets, remove any you see when you are watering or weeding.