When we’re working the plot on a hot summer’s day, we’re going to need some refreshment. And better than having to lug snacks down to the plot would be being able to pick our own while we’re there. And what could be more refreshing in the heat of the height of summer than strawberries straight from the plants?
We’re going to try to grow lots of strawberries, 36 plants to be precise. We’ve gone for four varieties, which will hopefully crop over as long a period of time as possible: Honeoye, Elsanta, Cambridge Favourite, and Symphony.
Honeoye is an early-cropping RHS-recommended variety, but is also supposed to be fairly hardy so a good choice for a north-facing slope in Sheffield.
Elsanta is the incredibly popular maincrop variety found in supermarkets, but that that might have more to do with the shelf-life than the quality of the friut, so we’ve also transplanted some Cambridge Favourite plants, another maincrop variety, from Carl and Karen’s garden.
Symphony is a late variety, so should extend our picking season.
Strawberries should be planted at something like 45cm intervals in rows 90cm apart. In an effort to make the bed low maintenance, we cut some 1m-wide weed membrane into four 4m-long strips—the space we’ve given them is 4m x 4m, so that’s is enough to cover the bed—then cut holes at 45cm intervals and planted the strawberry runners and plants through the membrane, adding some manure to the planting holes.
The runners we bought seem very small and fragile, so we’ve since gone back with a few lemonade bottles cut into ad hoc bottle cloches to give some of them a bit more protection from the elements. I’m still a bit worried about them, but at least the more mature plants look like they should be fine.