Be picky when it comes to choosing strawberriesBy James Ashford
April 24, 2010
I have never been a big fan of strawberries.
As a small boy I was made to eat some tinned strawberries by a hectoring dinner-lady and the experience lives with me still.
Until now I have never grown my own strawberries but under pressure from Mrs Go Organic, who is a fan, last year I relented and planted a dozen.
A really nice English strawberry is a thing of beauty and delicious with it but they are few and far between.
Unless you grow your own or visit a pick-your-own you are unlikely to get the real deal.
Most of the strawberries we buy and eat are pretty tasteless varieties grown for their ability to withstand rough treatment without showing it and are made worse by being picked under-ripe.
Many are not even English but are grown under plastic in Spain.
I planted mine in the autumn and I have every expectation of getting a small crop this year but you can also plant them now.
My colleague Linda Fort assures me that you can get a crop this year if you do and I bow to her experience in matters fruity.
Whatever you do, make sure you buy your plants from a reputable grower. Strawberries are prone to viruses and you should only buy certified disease-free plants.
And take the trouble to choose a really nice variety rather than just picking up the first plants that come to hand in the garden centre.
When you only have to transport them from the plant to your mouth the chief consideration should be flavour.
Strawberries need plenty of sunshine and they also need a moisture retentive but well-drained soil so make sure you dig in plenty of bulky organic matter before you plant. Surprisingly, they don’t need an especially rich soil. In fact if there is too much nitrogen you will only encourage leafy growth rather than fruit.
Watch out for aphids and protect them from the birds, otherwise they will eat them before you can.
And do pick them really ripe to enjoy them at their best.