‘Easy’ ways to grow ‘sweet and juicy’ strawberries – how to ensure they ‘thrive’ by summer

Alan Titchmarsh speaks to expert about growing fruit in garden

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Strawberries are often seen as the fruit of summer, and the sweet fruit is easily grown at home for budding gardeners. Sowing strawberry seeds is an ideal activity for children, with the literal fruits of their labour seen quickly and tasting delicious. They are versatile, needing only sun, shelter, and fertile, well-drained soil. Gardening experts at BBC Gardeners’ World shared that these plants can be grown in pots or straight into the ground.

They said: “You can buy strawberries as pot-grown plants at the garden centre in summer, or as mail-order runners in spring or autumn. 

“Different varieties of strawberry crop at different times – there are early, mid- and late-season varieties available. 

“If you choose a mix of varieties, you can harvest them over a longer season.”

Alternatively, everbearing, remontant or perpetual varieties crop on and off throughout the summer, and produce smaller fruits. 

They are a good choice for a smaller garden as they have a long cropping season and don’t take up too much space. 

Alpine strawberries are compact plants that produce tiny berries. 

They are a good choice for a semi-shaded spot or the front of a border and grow extremely well in pots.

The experts continued: “Strawberry plants generally fruit well for around three or four years before they begin to run out of steam. 

“They’re easy to propagate from runners, though, so you’ll always have a fresh stock of new plants.”

The gardening pros shared that the position of the strawberry plants is the key to achieving “sweet and juicy fruits”.

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They said: “Grow strawberries in a well-prepared strawberry bed, pot, growing bag or strawberry planter, in a sheltered spot that gets plenty of sun, for sweet, juicy fruits. 

“Add plenty of well-rotted horse manure or garden compost to the soil before planting. 

“Water plants well, especially in hot weather, and feed regularly with a high potash feed from early spring onwards.”

The strawberries should be harvested when the fruits are red all over. 

Replace plants every three or four years by planting fresh plants or propagating new plants from runners.

Gardeners can buy strawberry plants at the garden centre in late spring and summer to grow them directly in the ground.

The experts suggested: “Prepare the soil well first by digging in plenty of well-rotted garden compost or manure. 

“Then scatter a high-potash general fertiliser over the soil. 

“Plant the strawberry plants 30 to 45cm apart, in rows 75cm apart, so their roots are just buried, and firm the soil around them. 

“Water in well and keep well watered for the first few weeks as they establish.”

Strawberries grow “extremely well” in pots, hanging baskets and window boxes, says the gardening gurus.

The key is to use a deep pot that’s at least 15cm wide and plant one strawberry per pot.

The experts said: “They thrive in moist but well-drained conditions, so use a soil-based compost with a deep layer of gravel or broken crocks in the base. 

“Encourage flowers and fruit set by feeding with a liquid high potash feed (such as tomato food) every week or two from early spring onwards.”

Gardeners can also grow strawberries in growing bags. 

A growing bag will support six to eight strawberry plants, especially if gardeners lay one bag over another, with holes cut around the bag, to allow roots to penetrate to the full depth.

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