Sweet, aromatic and healthy: The delicious berries of the strawberry bush (Fragaria) belong in every fruit and vegetable garden. The strawberry plant, which belongs to the rose family, is a perennial herb with soft or silky hairs and a thick rootstock. Depending on the variety, the three- to five-part leaves are characteristic. At the base of the yellow or white flowers are the sweet, red pseudopods. They contain a lot of vitamin C and you can eat them either pure or as jam. Even if the care of the garden strawberry goes hand in hand with increased care, it is definitely worth cultivating: home-grown fruits develop a particularly fine aroma.

Location recommendations for the strawberry plant

When cultivating strawberries, it should first be considered that the plant should remain in a chosen location for a maximum of four years. The plant generally prefers a fully sunny location; however, cultivation is also possible in partial shade. In order for the strawberry plant to thrive optimally, there is also an area in the garden that offers a certain amount of protection from the wind.

Note: Some short varieties also thrive in a sunny spot on the balcony.

In order to find the ideal location, the planting of the rest of the garden should always be kept in mind; so not every type of vegetable is equally suitable in the immediate vicinity of the strawberry plant. For example, the fruit does not thrive next to cabbage, while the proximity to garlic, spinach, onions or leeks is definitely recommended. In addition to the ideal site conditions, the substrate used for cultivating the strawberries also plays a role. The soil should be like this:

  • permeable
  • profound
  • fumes
  • rich in nutrients
  • slightly sour

Heavy soil is not suitable for planting strawberries as it increases the risk of root rot.

Optimally cared for throughout the garden year

The optimal care of the strawberries begins as early as April or May. Now you should protect the strawberry plants from late frost with plant fleece or foil. At this point you can already start with the regular loosening between the individual rows. The targeted addition of mulch has proven effective from June. When the first fruits emerge – depending on the species from May to October – you should also place wood shavings, straw or solid cardboard under the plants. This measure protects the fruit from rot and dirt. Once the fruit has been harvested, fertilization with complete fertilizer, compost or rock flour is suitable. When cultivating once-bearing varieties, you should remove the stolons from all stolons that are not needed for propagation. This measure optimally promotes fruit formation. In order to specifically prevent diseases and pests, you can also remove all runners and leaves after the harvesting process.

Strawberries should be watered regularly, especially during dry summer periods. Especially after planting, during fruit formation and in August (when new flowers are planted), the plant must be kept well moist. During fruit ripening, on the other hand, watering is more restrained; heavy watering can encourage the development of gray mold. When watering, you should always make sure that the liquid does not get on the leaves; this promotes the development of various diseases.

Targeted fertilization can contribute to a particularly lush harvest. Fresh manure can always be worked into the soil in between; The addition in autumn before the actual planting is particularly favorable, since the fertilizer can decompose and release nutrients before planting. At planting time, such fertilization should be avoided completely. It is also possible to add a special strawberry fertilizer. One third of this should be added before planting, one third in late winter and one third just before flowering.

planting and propagation

Strawberry plants can be propagated simply by cutting off and transplanting rooted runners in July or August. For this purpose, offshoots of particularly fruitful plants are selected. These can be fixed to the ground with wire clips beforehand. The offshoots, on the other hand, can also be directed into pots filled with propagation soil at an early stage. Monthly strawberries, on the other hand, are propagated with the help of seeds.

The planting time of the strawberries depends on the variety:

  • Monthly strawberries: in spring
  • Wild strawberries: in spring
  • Garden strawberries: late July to mid-August
  • Varieties bearing several times: until September

Once the time for planting has been determined, the soil is prepared two months before the date. For this purpose, it has proven useful to loosen the substrate as a whole and, if necessary, to incorporate mature compost.

Strawberry plants are usually offered in three different variants. Frigo plants harvested during the winter months are available until July. This form is mainly used as a classic date culture, for example if the harvest time is to be postponed. Potted plants are also available that are grown in a soil substrate and contain a root ball. The main advantage of potted plants is that they are planted very early (in July) and then a very good yield can be expected in the following year. Classic green plants are packaged in plastic bags and can be kept fresh in this packaging for a long time. If the plant is planted in August, it will produce a higher yield than the Frigo plant.

When choosing the plant, you should pay particular attention to the strength of the heart bud. In addition, only specimens that have a well-developed root system and at least three fully developed leaves should be used. In the case of potted plants, the root ball should be well penetrated.

Before planting can take place, the root ball of the plant should be prepared accordingly. For this purpose, it has proven useful to briefly immerse it in a water bath. The plant is then planted in the ground. When planting, a row spacing of about 40 to 50 cm should be maintained. Within the row, the plants are placed at a distance of 25 cm from each other. The correct planting depth is of particular importance; so the inner heart buds should remain just above the surface of the earth. Now the plants are pressed down and watered vigorously. As an alternative planting of the strawberry plants, cultivation on embankments is an option.

This method provides certain advantages; for example, the risk of the plant suffering from root rot is reduced. In addition, the strawberries can spread better. The strawberry plants are planted at the depth and spacing described above on the prepared embankments. The dams are then enriched with decomposed compost, making them more permeable in this way. Finally, the plants are covered. For this purpose, the use of a black foil has proven itself particularly well. Sufficient watering is also particularly important with this method. Within the first two weeks, the soil around the plant must never dry out completely.
Garden strawberries are generally replaced by young plants after four years. The best way is to create a completely new bed in a different area.

Harvest tips and uses

Depending on the variety of strawberry plant, there are different harvest times for the fruit:

  • Strawberries bearing once: June to July
  • Strawberries that bear fruit several times: June to October
  • Monthly strawberries: May to October

The early morning hours have proven to be the best time of day to harvest the berries. At this time, the aroma is particularly intense. Since the berries are very sensitive to pressure, it has also proven useful to harvest the berries by cutting off the stalk and removing the calyx. In addition, the harvest should be carried out in such a way that the leaf crown that is on the berries is preserved. If you remove this piece of leaf, washing the fruit easily allows water to seep into the interior of the berry, making the fruit taste watered down.

Tip: Strawberry plants deliver a particularly lush yield in the second year.

Strawberries can be used in many ways. In addition to enjoying the pure fruit, it is also suitable for further processing into jam, cakes, desserts or even in salads.

Optimal treatment of typical strawberry diseases

The strawberry plant is particularly often affected by the powdery mildew, which is specialized on the plant. The infestation manifests itself with characteristic symptoms:

  • whitish mealy coating, especially on the underside of the leaves
  • reddish coatings on the leaves as the disease progresses
  • curled, deformed and reddish petals
  • weak fruit set
  • unripe, green-brown and hard fruits

To prevent mildew infestation, planting with sufficient distance between the individual specimens has proven itself. In addition, you should fertilize with a focus on potash and avoid an increased supply of nitrogen. Early removal of stolons and loosening of the soil also help prevent powdery mildew fall. To strengthen the plant from the inside out, you can fertilize regularly with horsetail broth from spring. If the plant is already diseased, it must be removed immediately. If necessary, lecithin-based fungicides can also be sprayed.

Leatherberry or rhizome rot often occurs in strawberry plants. Both diseases are based on a harmful fungus that affects either the fruit or the rootstock. Typical symptoms of damage are sudden wilting of the inner heart leaves and soon dying of the plant (rhizome rot) as well as brown-colored fruits with a leathery, rubbery consistency and bitter taste (leatherberry rot). Sanding the soil, deep loosening of the soil and using less susceptible varieties help as preventive measures.

Combat pests effectively

In addition to various strawberry diseases, the plants are also attacked by pests. A typical pest is the strawberry mite, for example, which appears in summer when the weather is damp and warm and sucks on the soft heart leaves. The main infestations are stunted and wrinkled withered leaves and unripening, brown-colored fruits. Natural enemies such as predatory bugs and predatory mites can be promoted as a preventive measure; mixed cultures with onions or garlic are also suitable. In the event of an acute infestation, the dead plant remains are removed.

The infestation of the strawberry blossom weevil is also typical; this is a weevil that gnaws on the stems of the plant. The following characteristics present themselves as classic damage patterns:

  • single, withered bent flower buds
  • yellowish larvae inside the buds
  • from July small feeding holes in the leaves

In order to avoid an infestation in advance, natural enemies can be promoted. These include, for example, ground beetles and parasitic wasps. From April, the buds are checked and damaged specimens are removed immediately. In heavily infested years, an insecticide that is kind to bees is also suitable.

Aphids can also appear on the plant; the pests can be effectively removed with a targeted jet of water.

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