The taste of NEXT summer!
There are many reasons to grow-your-own, but surely top of that list is flavour. Shop bought strawberries simply cannot even begin to compete with the literally mouth-watering freshness of their home-grown cousins.
If you want a banquet of to-die-for strawberries, NOW is the time to act. Young plants or bare-root transplants established this month will put on enough growth to give an excellent crop early next summer, and then for several more years to come. They are available widely at this time of year, and any friends or family with an established crop will have a plentiful supply of ‘runners’- offsets from the parent plant. If you choose an early fruiting variety such as ‘Honeoye’ you could be picking punnets of fruit when they’re still at extortionate prices in the shops – let’s not forget the flavour!
Strawberries are one of those crops where it’s best to establish a bed specifically and only for them- even a block of 1sq m should be enough to give a fabulous supply. If you have more than 1 pod, then maybe devote 1 of them to this most British of crops, if you only have 1, then maybe now’s the time to buy a second! 😊 (Use STRAWPOD for 10% off)
The key to success for a fab crop of succulent fruit is soil preparation - the ground needs to be free of any old roots and full of organic matter. The better the soil, the better the crop.
Start by cleaning out your soil, removing any old plants, roots left over from your summer crop. Add plenty of organic matter such as well rotted garden compost or horse manure - at least a couple of buckets for a medium pod (remove some of the old compost to accommodate if necessary). Work that into the top 6-8 inches (15-20cm).
Of course you’ll want to maximise your returns, so plant a little closer than in traditional beds - 30cm is ideal - so 9 plants in a medium pod. Be careful not to bury the crowns, i.e. the central growing point of the plant, otherwise they’ll rot and die. Firm in and water well.
Remember to keep the cover on throughout winter to allow air and moisture in but keep the worst of the weather out. In late February, replace that cover with the hothouse (winter) cover to help build up and retain heat from the early spring sunshine – this will bring your crop on much earlier.
If you have a Vegebag follow the same guidance however the maximum plants should be 3 and 4 in the Small and Large respectively.
Tip! It’s possible to get even more from your Vegepod by squeezing several ‘catch crops’ around the developing plants. Catch crops include salads, herbs and carrots but we’ll devote more to this subject another time, so watch this space.