Strawberry growing guide for families
There is nothing better than eating strawberries straight from your garden in summer and your children will find it fascinating to watch them grow. There are many varieties of strawberries that ripen at different times in New Zealand. We like the “Pajaro” strawberries which are a large sweet strawberry that in Auckland are ready to pick (and eat) at the end of October.
What month is best to plant strawberries?
In Auckland you can plant strawberries from Late June. Strawberries need the cool winter chill to set them off to flower. Also, plant them after the last winter frost if you can.
How many strawberry plants should you grow?
We think that you should plant at least 6 strawberry plants per person. However if you have spare garden space then you can always plant extra. If you only like strawberries a little bit then you may not need to plant so many.
What is the best place to grow strawberries?
Strawberries need to be grown in a sunny spot. You can grow them in pots, troughs, hanging baskets or in the ground.
If you are planting strawberries in a pot you should use strawberry mix as it has water storing crystals as well as slow release nutrients. The water storing crystals mean you won’t have to water the strawberries as often. Make sure you place the pots in a warm sunny north facing spot and far away from strong winds.
How should you prepare the ground for growing strawberries?
First you need to dig some compost into your ground. Then plant the strawberry plants in a sunny spot in rows running north to south for even ripening.
Then make mounds approximately 10cm high along each row. This allows for good drainage.
We place the strawberry plants in a strip of black polythene over the mound and cut out holes for the plants. This allows for the strawberries to stay clean and away from any bugs or pests.
How do you plant strawberries?
Plant strawberries early in the morning or late in the day so the plants are not exposed to hot sun straight away.
Dig a hole and sprinkle a bit of Strawberry Fertiliser in the hole. Then plant the strawberry plant.
MAKE SURE that the crown of the plant (the bit just below the leaves ) is sitting higher than the ground. The crown is where new growth comes from. As a guide we plant our strawberry plants 15 cm apart and in rows that have a 40 cm gap between them.
Do you need to fertlise strawberries?
When the flowers first appear this is when the plant requires extra energy for producing healthy fruit.
Pick the first lot of flowers that come on the plants to promote better growth.
Then apply Strawberry fertiliser every 6 weeks.
How do you protect strawberries from being eaten by the birds?
As soon as you see the first lot of strawberries changing colour you need to cover your strawberry plants with netting otherwise the birds will eat your strawberries. If you have grown your strawberries in pots a few bamboo stakes and netting tied to them. If you have grown them in the garden, you can buy wire hoops and cover them with netting and pin it down.
Is it okay to eat unwashed strawberries from your garden?
You can eat strawberries straight from the garden as you will know what has and has not gone on them while they were growing. However you may also wish to wash your strawberries inside before you eat them. That’s if they last long enough for the kids not to eat them.
Only wash the strawberries you are going to use not all the ones you picked. Any moisture left on the strawberries after being picked makes them grow mouldy faster.
Enjoy growing your own strawberry plants and eating your own fruit from them this year!