We might be heading for autumn, but now’s the time to start thinking about summer and strawberries. Planted in the warm soil of autumn, plants soon settle in and, already established, are primed for a flying start next year.
Different varieties flower and crop at slightly different times, so are divided into early, mid-season and late, with cropping starting in June. Perpetual or Autumn varieties produce flowers in flushes over a longer period from July and August into late summer to carry the season on. So, by planting the various types together you’ll get the longest cropping period. Select disease resistant varieties.
While varieties are available in pots for planting now, many companies also send out bare-root crowns in October and November for planting later, which can be a cheaper option.
Before starting dig plenty of organic matter into the soil, ideally where strawberries havn’t been grown before. Apply a slow release general fertiliser. To protect fruit from soil splash which can damage berries, grow plants through permeable landscape or weed-proof matting. Set plants 40cm (1 1⁄4ft) apart, with 90cm (3ft) between rows and water in. It’s best to pick off some flowers to reduce yields and let the plants develop in the first year.