Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa)
Strawberries are a sweet temptation that should be in every garden. Because strawberries taste so much better when you have picked them yourself and they are fully ripe. They also find ideal conditions in flower boxes on the balcony – provided there is enough sun. Provided there is sufficient water and nutrients, strawberries are hardly any bother and reward with a longer harvesting time.
Overwintering is no problem either, as the plants are very hardy and busily deliver luscious fruit the following season, too. Strawberries bear fruit on a single plant for several years. After a few years, the plant starts to bear less fruit and grows weaker. However, you can always grow new plants from the runners (long shoots) that you cut off after harvesting (see below).
You can plant strawberries in boxes, in pots, hanging baskets and also in special strawberry planters with openings for several plants. Before planting the strawberry plant, add a few centimetres of gravel or lightweight aggregate to the bottom of the pot for drainage. Mix a peat-free, special potting soil into the container to give the plants a good start. Planting season is early spring or early autumn after the harvest.
Garden centres have a large selection of strawberry plants in spring and early summer. If you combine several varieties with different harvest times, you extend the pleasure. Varieties producing a single crop are, for example, Aroma, Florika, Kent, Mieze Schindler, Rimona, Senga Sengana and Tenira.
Nowadays, besides the ordinary types of strawberry, there are also climbing varieties, twice-bearing and so-called perpetual strawberries which flower until the autumn and bear fruit. Climbing strawberries are, for example, the varieties Hummi, Kingsize Fragaria and Mountainstar. Twice-bearing varieties are Evita, Imtraga-Selektra, Mara des Bois and Rapella. The perpetual strawberries have beautiful names like Camara, Elsanta, Frapendula, Ostara, Red Panda and Sweetheart.
Strawberries like it sunny; a shady balcony is therefore not a suitable site for the plants. It is important to look after the strawberry plant by satisfying its high water requirements but without waterlogging. Don’t forget to water on frost-free days in winter.
Regular feeds also contribute to a rich harvest. Feed in spring and after harvesting with Organic Multipurpose Plant Food.
You can remove runners to grow new plants from July. Too many runners weaken the strawberry. Put the runners in a peat-free sowing and potting soil to form roots and plant out in the autumn. Cut back foliage in the autumn.
Depending upon the variety, strawberries can be harvested from June to October.