Harvesting sweet strawberries from your own garden is a special pleasure. With these tips for planting and care, the cultivation succeeds. Simply harvest your own strawberries and you can be sure that your own strawberries are free of chemicals and pesticides. It is not as difficult as you think now, in this article we explain to you exactly how you can easily grow your own strawberries yourself.
Strawberries (Fragaria) belong to the rose family (Rosaceae) and therefore belong to the same family of plants as apples, cherries, quinces and many other types of fruit. Ornamental shrubs such as the finger bush (Potentilla), the firethorn (Pyracantha) and the Spier shrub (Spiraea) are also included. The relatively simple flowers with five petals are typical of the plant family. The natural range of strawberries extends across America, Europe and Asia. The ancestors of our cultivated strawberry come from America: In the middle of the 18th century, the North American scarlet strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and the Chile strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) came to Europe. At the time, the so-called pineapple strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) emerged from a cross between the two species – a hybrid that is considered the archetype of today’s garden strawberries. A variety of native wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are the monthly strawberries (Fragaria vesca var. Semperflorens), which bloom from May to October and bear fruit continuously. For this reason, they are nowadays called strawberries that always carry or remount. Around 100 of the approximately 1,000 strawberry varieties are grown here, most of them garden strawberries that are used once.
Appearance and growth
Strawberries are perennial plants that are considered to be perennials due to their lifestyle. The flowers and fruits form on long herbaceous stems near the ground. The three to five-fold, lush green leaves are in a rosette. After a cold stimulus, false umbels with small white flowers emerge, which depending on the variety are clearly or hardly recognizable in the foliage. Since the fruit of the strawberry is a collective note fruit and the actual seeds appear as small yellow nuts on the outside of the fruit, the fruits of the strawberries are so-called collective nuts.
The flowers of the strawberry are quite simple and have five petals
Location and soil
Strawberry plants thrive best in full sun. The more sun the plantlets get, the sweeter the fruits become. The site should be protected from the wind, but not completely windless, so that the leaves dry as quickly as possible after rain and leaf diseases can not gain a foothold easily. Layers prone to late frost are unsuitable because the flowers easily freeze here.
The soil should be loose and not too heavy, deep and rich in humus and the pH should ideally be between 5.5 and 6.5, i.e. in the slightly acidic to acidic range. Root diseases develop more easily on compacted soils, so it is important to loosen them up with leaf compost or sand before planting and prepare them for the sun-hungry soft fruit with a green manure. Do not use conventional garden compost for strawberries. It is too rich in salt and lime and therefore unsuitable for salt-sensitive perennials.
Proper soil preparation is the basis for a good harvest: dig deep with a digging fork and then work in four to five liters of humus or leaf compost and about 30 grams of horn meal per square meter with a cultivator. Two weeks after preparing the bed, the soil has set so far that you only have to rake the bed smoothly. You can then plant the strawberries.
Crop rotation and mixed culture
Strawberries provide the greatest yield in the second and third year after planting. After that, the yields and the quality of the fruit decrease continuously. So you should change the bed and plant new seedlings or your own offshoots. Like most rose plants, strawberries are very sensitive to replication – this means that you should plant new strawberries in a bed in which strawberries have been planted at the earliest after four years to avoid soil fatigue and to prevent soil pests such as nematodes. Vegetables with a short cultivation period, for example kohlrabi, salads and radishes, are ideal as primary crops. Garlic has also proven itself as a mixed crop for strawberries. Onions protect strawberry plants from fungal diseases. For example, lupines or crimson clover can be used as green manure.
When to plant strawberries depends on what strawberries are. In general: Two months before planting, you should improve the soil with leaf compost and – if available – rotten cow manure. As a rule, young strawberry plants will be available in stores from July. The best planting time for garden strawberries begins in the middle of the month and ends in August – then they give a good yield in the first year of standing. Multiple-bearing varieties can be planted in the ground from August to September, while strawberries and climbing strawberries are best planted in spring.
The distance between the rows should be at least 60 centimeters, so large that you can easily harvest the fruits. In the row, a planting distance of 25 to 30 centimeters is sufficient. The plants should be used so deep that the heart of the plants remains above the earth’s surface. With bare-rooted young plants, make sure that the roots reach the soil vertically and well spread out. You shouldn’t be kinked.
Control weeds between strawberries on time and regularly
The plants need a lot of water, especially during the growing phase and in dry weather. In addition, when caring for strawberries, it is important to regularly remove weeds from the soil. This can be done by carefully chopping in the planting year – afterwards you should avoid mechanical tillage and mulch the bed with dried grass cuttings instead. This prevents weeds from growing. By mulching your strawberries with straw from the beginning of May, you protect the sensitive fruits from moisture and gray mold. In addition, the fruit lying on the ground remains clean and weeds are still suppressed.
A layer of straw protects garden strawberries from moisture and gray mold
After the harvest, the straw should be cleared aside. Now you cut off the leaves and remove any kindle that you don’t need for the propagation. The old leaves are usually infected with fungal diseases and must therefore be carefully removed from the bed. The same applies to weeds that have grown through. Use a saucer to loosen the soil compacted by the harvest between rows. Then sprinkle organic berry fertilizer around each plant and then mulch with leaf compost. You can pour the cut plants in until you can only see the tips of the cut petioles. Strawberries are generally only fertilized after the harvest, because from then until autumn the new flower buds will be created for the coming season, for which the plants need a lot of nutrients.
Outdoor strawberry varieties that need to be grown once and twice do not need any special protection during the winter – unless the weather is extremely cold. Strawberries that are kept as potted plants, however, must be protected in good time with winter protection and moved to a sheltered place, for example on a roofed house wall. In case of permafrost you bring them into the house for safety.
Culture in a pot
In particular, always-bearing strawberry varieties that deliver fruit well into October can be cultivated very well in planters. The small and aromatic fruits of these remounting varieties hang in the air instead of lying on the ground.
If you want to pull raspberry or pineapple strawberries in a pot, a bucket with a diameter and depth of around 20 centimeters is sufficient. About three plantlets of the smaller pine berries fit into such a pot. As a precaution, hibernate potted strawberries in a cool, dark place over the winter, and don’t forget to water them. Slightly larger pots, buckets and window boxes with drainage holes are well suited for planting. For the varieties, you should use robust, always-bearing strawberries such as ‘Camara’, ‘Cupido’ or ‘Siskeep’. Put potting soil with organic fertilizer in the planter and set up the planted planters in a sunny spot. In autumn you should prune the plants so that they will bear fruit for two more years.
Harvest and recovery
Garden strawberries are usually ripe for picking once in June. During the harvest, the plants can be harvested two to three times a week. If varieties with different ripening times are grown side by side in the bed, the season for fresh strawberries can be extended a little. Remounting strawberries ripen several times a year, but are not as profitable as the garden strawberries.
Strawberries should be eaten or recovered as soon as possible after harvesting
Since strawberries are very sensitive to pressure and can only be stored for a short time, they should be eaten or processed as freshly as possible – for example to strawberry jam or sauce. The fruits can also be frozen, even though they are a bit mushy after thawing. Freezing has proven itself above all in order to process the fruit into jam later. It usually tastes even more aromatic than jam made from fresh strawberries.
The varieties grown for yield cultivation differ very greatly from the strawberry varieties for the home garden. They are mainly grown on firm pulp so that they can be easily transported. In terms of taste, however, they do not match the home garden varieties. The most widespread strawberries are once-bearing garden strawberries. They also have the largest variety of varieties. Early to mid-early varieties include:
‘Polka’: high yield, relatively robust
‘Senga Sengana’: rich, strong growth
‘Ostara’: remounting variety, medium-sized, heart-shaped fruits
‘Jubilae’: good taste, robust
‘Elvira’: high yields, early ripening
Mid-late to late ripening varieties are ‘Thuriga’, ‘Salsa’ and ‘Symphony’.
Note crop rotation when growing
The bed should not be freshly dug up, but should already have settled. Neither strawberries nor potatoes should have grown there in the past four years. Reason: Whoever adheres to the so-called crop rotation does not leach the soil on one side and prevents the spread of diseases.
The right row spacing for strawberries
The plants are planted with a row spacing of around 80 centimeters. The distance between the rowan plants in a row should be 30 to 35 centimeters. There is enough space for harvesting and straw can be spread between the plants so that the moisture stays in the soil for longer. In addition, the berries are not directly on the earth.
Buy young strawberry plants in a pot
There are three options when choosing plants. The first are pre-grown young plants in a pot. You can buy them everywhere in spring. However, they are usually quite small. These plants are sensitive to frost and should not be placed in the bed too early and protected from the cold if necessary. Most of the time, the harvest in the first year is not yet lavish.
Determine the harvest time yourself with frost plants
The second option is to buy so-called frost plants. These are already one year old, were excavated last autumn and hibernated in a cold store. At around zero degrees, these plants can be stored in their own fridge and planted as desired: it takes about ten to twelve weeks from planting to harvesting the first ripe fruit. Planting time is from late April to mid-June. Planting plants can extend the strawberry season. However, this only works in the first year if the plants remain in the bed. Important: The frost plants have very long, strong roots, so they need a deep planting hole. The planting is so deep that the heart of the plant remains above the earth’s surface.
Multi-bearing varieties: strawberries for the balcony
Variant three are multi-bearing varieties. You can also buy these in a pot in spring and then plant them in the bed. However, they do not bear many and rather small fruits. For this, they bloom two or three times a year. Therefore, these varieties are more suitable for balcony or terrace – as a strawberry plant for snacking in between. These varieties also have very pretty flowers. Never plant the strawberries in normal potting soil, they contain far too much artificial fertilizer. Organic garden soil, on the other hand, is recommended.