Strawberries flourish well in a well-drained soil in a sunny position. It is almost impossible to provide strawberries with too rich a soil. Before planting dig in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. If you are short of space then they can be grown in pots, troughs, window boxes, hanging baskets and grow bags or any suitable container you may have.
There are two types of strawberries. The first type that carry a single crop in summer and secondly a perpetual type that begins to crop slowly in summer, reaches a peak and then continues through to autumn. By careful selection of varieties and use of cloches you can harvest strawberries from May to October.
Ideally plant from late June to September for a good crop of fruit the following summer. Space each plant 45cm (18”) apart and make the rows 80cm (30”) apart. Make a hole about 5cm (2”) deeper than the root of the plant, place plant in hole and firm in. Water in and continue to water in dry conditions.
Traditionally straw has been used to keep the fruit dry and off the ground, but this can encourage slugs and can get quite wet. Ideally use strawberry mats or black polythene as a ground cover.
Raising new plants
In the second half of the summer, small baby plants attached on runners will appear from the mother plant. These can easily be pegged down, so that they form a root or just pushed into the soil to root. In many cases they will just root by themselves. These are your future stock of plants, which when rooted can be easily potted up into containers or to form a new row in your fruit garden.
In early spring, remove any dead leaves and mulch with well rotted manure or compost. Water well and in late spring when the fruit starts to set, apply a high-potash liquid fertiliser like tomato food.
Strawberry plants need to be replaced after approximately five years as their production and vigour slows down. Either buy new plants from the garden centre or raise your own from the runners.