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.
Dealing with pests and diseases
Ripe berries are eaten by birds, possums and dogs.
Weighted cheesecloth or plastic works for birds, but to protect growing fruit and allow pollination use a crop cage or wire net to keep it safe.
Snails and slugs
The leaves and fruit are a favourite of these nocturnal pests, who leave a slimy trail in their wake.
Lay traps and baits, and use plastic weedmat so they have no mulch to hide in. Use copper tape on pots.
Also called grey mould, this fungal disease can attack all parts of the plant.
Common in humid conditions it causes fuzzy growth and brown, soggy fruit. Remove and destroy affected fruit and leaves.
Leaves with chewed or ragged holes are a sign of caterpillars. They don’t affect the fruit, so to benefit from butterflies in the garden just remove by hand and cover fruiting plants with mesh.
These small, sap-sucking insects feed on leaves, spread diseases and attract sooty mould. Pick off by hand, spray infestations with an organic insecticide, or release natural predators such as ladybirds.
This fungus shows as a white-grey powder on the leaves and the fruit. Spray with a solution of one part full-cream milk to 10 parts water or use a fungicide. Grow plants in full sun with good airflow.