Strawberry plants have a short, compressed stem called a crown. The crown produces a whorl of leaves, fruiting structures (inflorescences), branch crowns, and runners. (Runners, also called “daughter” plants, can be used to propagate new strawberry plants.) The strawberry fruit is fleshy, with achenes (seeds) on the surface. The fruit is topped by a calyx—a green, leafy cap—which might remain on the plant when the fruit is picked.
Scientific Name: Fragaria × ananassa
Common Name: Strawberry
How to grow and maintain strawberry:
Soil must be prepared well in advance with all required soil amendments. To get accurate soil amendments you may need to test your soil by getting a soil analysis. This will give you an accurate picture of what nutrient is required in your soil. If you are using manure, use mature well composted green or animal manure. Mix well into the soil in advance before planting your strawberry plants. Strawberries perform well in raised beds. Beds can be mulched well before planting.
When planting roots must be placed into the soil and covered well while the crown must be sitting on top of the ground level and not buried into the soil. Rows of plants can be 30 cm apart within bed and can be up to 4 rows of plants per bed depending on your ease of reach. After a week or so you may find the leaves may die back. Do not be alarmed as small new leaves will appear from the crown. This is not a disease, but the plant taking all the nutrients from the leaves to establish well and produce the best fruit possible.
Start with a rich organic soil. Adequate compost and organic manure should give the plants a good start. However, strawberries need good nutrients to produce continuous good fruit. Fertilisers can be used to add nutrients to the soil. Complete or balanced fertilisers are good source of nutrients. After planting, fertiliser may be broadcasted and watered into the soil or mixed in water and watered onto the soil around plants. It is important to add the correct amount of fertiliser as there is a risk of burning the plants when applying too much fertiliser. Calcium and potassium are important for good fruit production.
Strawberry plants need 1 inch of water per week for adequate growth. Water the strawberry planting once a week during dry weather.
Fruit is ready for harvesting 4–6 weeks after blossoming. Harvest only fully red (ripe) berries, and pick every three days. Cut by the stem; do not pull the berry. Harvest will last up to 3 weeks. You should have an abundance of berries, depending on the variety. Store unwashed berries in the refrigerator for 3–5 days.
Strawberries can be frozen whole for about 2 months.
Pests and diseases:
Strawberries are subject to many troubles, including mites, rose chafers, strawberry root weevils, and verticillium wilt. To help reduce problems, plant only certified disease-free plants; also remove and dispose of diseased foliage and rotten fruit.