Sow seeds now in pots, beds or baskets for a winter harvest of juicy bite-sized fruits
From the Rosaceaeor rose family, strawberries are part of the genus Fragaria.
They probably got their name from the early British practice of laying straw under the berries to keep them off the ground.
Wild strawberries grow in woodland clearings and thrive on the acidic qualities of tree humus.
After centuries of breeding in Europe and America, the main types grown now are commonly called garden and alpine strawberries.
Spring and autumn are the seasons for raising strawberries.
They fruit throughout summer and winter, and grow in most climates.
For a crop in about 16 weeks, grow strawberries from seed now or buy and plant runners for fast fruit.
Sprawling herbaceous plants, strawberries are grown in rows with at least 300mm between plants.
A single row of about 20 plants will keep the average family supplied during the growing season.
If you don’t have space for a garden bed, grow strawberries in containers.
There are lots of varieties that can be grown in the ground or pots and baskets, including specially bred plants that don’t produce runners.
To grow several plants together without overcrowding, use a custom container called a pocket pot.
Also used for herbs, it has cavities with openings that allow the strawberries to spill down the sides of the pot. T
o make a DIY pocket pot, use a stack of graduated terracotta pots.
Add potting mix and push the plants through the openings from the inside until the pot is full.
Put the pot in a lightly shaded position and water regularly, but don’t wet the leaves.
TIP: Young plants dry out fast so don’t leave them in the sun before planting.