It’s summer already which means strawberry plants are fruiting and lots of juicy fruit is being harvested. Perhaps you’re waiting for the first strawberry harvest of the year, or if you had an early fruiter, your plant has finished already. Regardless, here are some of our best tips for keeping your strawberry plant in tip-top shape all year round so it can fruit for years to come!
How to create the perfect conditions for strawberry plants
We’re sure you’ve already checked out our guide on how to plant strawberries but it’s important to ensure conditions are maintained to keep your prized plant growing.
Ensure your strawberries are watered liberally, have lots of room to grow, and a good amount of sunlight. A great way of giving your strawberry plant a boost is by adding nitrogen to the soil in the form of sheep’s wool or wool pellets.to Nitrogen occurs naturally in sheep’s wool and will be released into the soil as the wool composts down, ensuring your strawberry plant grows big and strong!
If your plant isn’t ready to fruit, or is particularly young or weak you should remove the flowers to encourage the plant to grow that little bit bigger before fruiting next season.
You also want to ensure you are removing any rotting leaves, fruit, stalks or stems promptly and once the plant is finished fruiting, give it a quick trim back to encourage new growth next season!
Can I stop my strawberries from being eaten by pests?
Animals and insects love strawberries – they are rather delicious, after all. But, if you want to make sure your strawberries end up in your belly rather than in the bellies of your garden wildlife, you’ll need to deter them. We’ve personally found that deer and rabbits are particularly fond of munching at strawberry plants, alongside the usual culprits of slugs and snails!
Here at Chimney Sheep, we value all wildlife – even the pesky strawberry eating type – because they all play an important part in the wider eco-system. Rather than using chemical pest killers, we’d thoroughly recommend using a natural pest deterrent instead.
Our number one choice is Grazer’s deterrent spray! They’re completely natural, eco friendly and wildlife safe, plus they have different types of spray depending on the pests you are dealing with. The active ingredient in these sprays is calcium carbonate. This safely penetrates the plant’s leaves, meaning if a pest has a nibble, it tastes disgusting and they don’t come back for another bite. (They even pass on the message to their insect and animal buddies to leave the plants alone – win/win!) Stock up on the rabbit and deer spray, or slug and snail spray if they’re eating your plants and you’ll see results straight away!
Just a note, if you’re using the Grazer’s sprays on food plants – you’ll have to stop using them a couple of weeks before you plan on harvesting to ensure the calcium carbonate has a chance to dissipate (or your plants may have a little bit of a baking soda taste to them!)
You could also take a look at our natural garlic slug deterrent recipe, for home-made natural slug deterrent.
Wool is also a fantastic natural deterrent if slugs and snails are munching on your strawberry plant. Our felt shillies are perfect to deter the cheeky molluscs as they hate the feeling of the scratchy wool felt on their bodies. You can pile the wool chips around the base of your strawberry plant in a little mound, creating an effective barrier between the slugs and your precious strawberries. You can read more about natural slug deterrents in our detailed slug deterrent blog!
How do I protect my strawberry plant from weeds?
Like many other plants, weeds are another huge problem for strawberries. They compete for nutrients, sunlight and space. In bad cases can even slowly murder a strawberry plant! Gruesome.
We have a whole host of natural weed killer ideas to help protect your strawberry plants below…
For pots or hanging basket liners:
Use an appropriately sized mulch mat – choose one of our natural jute mulch mats that is just a little smaller than the pot! This will cover the soil surrounding the strawberry plant, smothering any weeds that attempt to sprout!
For strawberries planted in the ground:
Why not mulch the ground first! If you’ve got an area you want mulching or clear before planting – why not use our garden felt for a no dig solution – perfect prep before planting – and should help reduce the weed count before you even get started!
For multiple strawberry plants in a boarder or bed:
Strawberry plants planted directly into the ground can be more susceptible to weeds so good weed protection is important! To protect larger areas of strawberry plants, you can use a landscaping material over the whole area, such as our jute mulch roll are Not only is is it easy to use but it is also very effective. You can simply roll the matting out onto the bed and you’ve got a protective jute layer to smother weeds place instantly. You will then need to punch holes in the matting where you want to plant your strawberries. Once you’ve done that, you can plant your strawberries directly through the matting.
If you’d rather have something to just slot around the base of your strawberry plant, our large square mulch mats will provide a big protective border for your strawberries – they won’t have to compete for sunlight or nutrition ever again!
How to care for your strawberries during winter
Wintertime can be tricky for strawberries! If they’re not kept in a greenhouse they can be quite susceptible to the cold, with their leaves becoming damaged by the frost. In some cases where it’s especially cold strawberry plants can perish which means you have to start all over again with your strawberry planting journey!
To protect your precious strawberry plants from the cold, give them some thermal root protection. A little pile of insulating felt shillies or natural wool, a mulch mat or a square of woolly garden felt will insulate the roots from the cold. In theory adding an insulating layer will provide a cover for the soil, meaning that the cold air, snow and frost will not be in direct contact with it – preventing cold conduction to the plants roots!
You could also give your strawberries a woolly fleece! Our garden fleece is the perfect woolly jacket for outdoor plants susceptible to the cold. The fleece is thick enough to physically prevent frost and snow from landing on your strawberries, as well as providing a protective barrier from chilly wind and rain. Your strawberries will stay snug until springtime!
And there you have it! The top ways to care for your strawberry plant throughout they year. Have you tried any of our tips? Let us know how you’ve got on – we love hearing from our customers!