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Strawberries are often seen as the fruit of the summer, and the sweet fruit is easily grown at home for budding gardeners. Sowing strawberry seeds is an ideal activity for kids, with the literal fruits of their labour seen quickly and tasting delicious.
Strawberry plants are versatile, needing only sun, shelter, and fertile, well-drained soil.
When picking an area for your strawberries, avoid areas with too much shade or which are prone to frost.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) also advises avoiding planting strawberries in areas that have grown potatoes, chrysanthemums, or tomatoes as “they are all prone to the disease verticillium wilt”.
Typically strawberries are planted in rows, but can also be added to raised beds, borders, containers or growing bags.
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1. When to plant
Strawberry seeds should be sown in early spring, and planted in soil which has been sprinkled with general fertiliser.
The best times to plant strawberry seeds are March and April, and September and October.
However, you can plant out young plants bought from garden centres into late spring and yield fruit with ease.
When picking your spot try and avoid a windy area, and make sure to avoid any areas prone to frost.
To plant out, the RHS advises preparing the soil by digging in around two buckets of well-rotted manure or garden compost and adding a general fertiliser.
Measure out planting holes 35cm (14in) apart, and space rows 75cm (30in) apart making sure the holes are big enough for the roots.
2. Bird Protection
As with most fruit-bearing plants, birds and other animals are likely to want a taste.
Netting or mesh are the way to go to protect your plants from any would-be snackers.
Netting works best if birds are taking your crop, while mesh deters squirrels.
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3. Watering and feeding
Make sure you water frequently after planting, as this will help new plants establish themselves.
Any dry periods or warm days make sure you keep on top of the watering.
During the growing season feed them every two weeks with a balanced fertiliser.
4. When to harvest
Depending on the type of strawberries you have and when you have planted them, they ripen from early summer to early autumn.
You should pick your fruit when it is red all over, and do so at the warmest part of the day.
Make sure to eat them as soon as possible as they don’t keep for long once fully ripe.
5. After harvest care
After the plants have fruited, cut off old leaves with hand shears and remove them.
Make sure to leave the crown and new leaves untouched.
Doing this will allow the sun to get to the middle of the plant, and can give a better crop next year.
Feed and water well, and remove any netting or mesh so birds can get rid of any pests.
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