OUR strawberry beds here at Tullamore Farm have moved into overdrive over the last couple of months and with all the current and pending rain they are producing a bumper crop. Our local climate provides the warm weather and ample sunshine needed. If you are keen to harvest your own strawberries here are a few tips on how we do it.
Strawberry plants start to reduce their fruit yield when they are about 3 years old. We have always planted a new crop every year from our runners and remove the oldest patch. This year we purchased a couple of substantial punnets to invigorate the patch. We always have 3 beds of strawberries. This system works so well, with continuous Strawberries the result.
If you don’t have them planted, you still have time and they can fruit quite quickly with good conditions. We recently planted Sweethearts, but your local Mitre 10 or nursery can advise on the best varieties for local conditions.
They like an Acidic soil, so when planting, we always add some Azalea Potting mix to the bed. We give our strawberries a big prune every autumn and then fertilize with our compost or organic chicken manure pellets. Regular watering is essential. They like the soil moist but not water logged. Strawberries prefer to have minimal water on their leaves and we have the hose on mist when watering.
Strawberries throw out runners in late spring or summer. Don’t let the runners take over the bed because if you have too many planted in a small area you won’t get the taste or size. We mulch all our beds with Bana grass or Sugar-cane mulch. This helps suppress the weeds and retain moisture. Proper spacing is important giving some air circulation, and reducing the risk of disease. That for us is about 30 cms apart.
Short of space? We grow some Strawberries in hanging baskets. Very important to keep them well mulched because they will dry out quicker this way. This is a handy way to get some extra produce if you live on a small suburban block.