On the occasion of the creation of a new strawberry plantation (Mara des Bois), I offer you a brief overview of the strawberry cultivation. I will try to complete this article during the season to present you the evolution of this strawberry plantation…
The strawberries have their place in a natural vegetable garden… Rare are the gardeners, still less their children, who will contradict me!
Of course, the strawberry is not a vegetable (just like tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, peppers…) but a fruit… well, not really…
A little bit of botany
Belonging to the Rosaceae family (like most fruits, but also roses or hawthorns, for example), strawberry is a false fruit …the part consumed is in reality a fertilized and thus transformed flower box; this false fruit itself contains a multitude of true fruits, called achenes, which cover it.
Growing conditions for strawberries
The diversity of varieties makes it possible to growing strawberries in most climates, and this up to 1500 m altitude.
the strawberry tree appreciate a well lit location.
Strawberry cultivation is perfectly adapted to acidic or neutral soils, but fears limestone (although certain varieties are adapted to it).
In heavy or moist soil it is recommended to grow strawberries on mounds.
Check (with your supplier) whether the variety you want to plant is suitable for your climate!
These varieties produce for about 1 month. We distinguish:
Early varieties: Elvira, Gariguette, Favette, Surprise des Halles…
Mid-season varieties: Belburi, Madame Moutot, Gorella…
Late varieties: Maraline, Marascor, Bogota, Senga, Talisman…
After an initial harvest period, production stops for about 1 month and then resumes until the first frost.
We can mention the Mara des Bois, the Gento, the Rabunda, the Selva, the Profusion, the Saint-Claude….
Strawberry cultivation – Fertilization and planting
Before planting, spread and process mature compost in large quantities (30 to 50 kg for 10 m2, ie one wheelbarrow to 1/2 wheelbarrow).
Strawberries are propagated by planting offshoots (sprouts) of young and vigorous mother plants.
Buy fresh plants or ‘refrigerator’ plants (the plants are uprooted in winter and then placed in the fridge at 2°C until delivery) or, more economically, take rooted offshoots from an existing plantation.
Apply within 48 hours of uprooting: The remontant varieties are planted in March/April (small harvests possible from the first year, but it is advisable to eliminate at least part of the first flowering under pain of foot exhaustion); the non-remontant varieties are used in June-July:
- If necessary (especially with heavy soils) make small mounds about 20 cm high so that the water can drain easily (strawberry plants do not like too high humidity);
- Make planting holes (filled with a mixture of compost, garden soil and potting soil – 1/3 of each) in 2 rows spaced 50-70 cm apart and 30-50 cm in the row;
- Praline just before planting the roots in a gruel made of clay soil;
- Transplant the offshoots and make sure to point the root system downwards (don’t use a vegetable container but dig by hand or with a small shovel). The collar should not be buried or protrude above ground level.
- Water at the base after planting and until plant resumption.
Lettuce or even spinach can be planted between the rows of strawberries to use up space while waiting for the strawberries to develop;
Spread some alliums (garlic, onions, shallots, leeks) in the strawberry plantation. These vegetables are known to protect strawberries from mold.
In principle, a strawberry plantation is renewed every 3 to 4 years. But if you follow the maintenance instructions below, the production can take much longer than…
Maintenance of a strawberry plantation
the strawberry tree likes humus-rich soil. Add compost every year.
Mulch, preferably with acidic materials (crushed pine bark, pine thorns, resinous RCW, etc.), especially if the soil is calcareous.
Water at the foot (drop by drop).
Regularly cut unnecessary offshoots, they exhaust the strawberry plantation. Keep only those that fill a void or are intended to be transplanted.
Natural protection against the main strawberry pests and diseases
Strawberry cultivation is not always easy.
We’re not the only ones who love strawberries: snails or birds love them too…
The largest snail predator is the Hedgehog. Promote its arrival in your yard by placing a few piles of branches here and there.
Surround the planting with fern fronds; snails will not pass through this natural barrier.
Another effective technique is to lay planks on the floor. The snails will take refuge there and you can then easily retrieve them to eliminate them…or take them to your neighbor (only if you’re cold, of course!).
As a last resort, use Ferramol, a biological anti-snail, the only one that keeps its predators alive.
Nowadays there are snail barriers (see for example here). I admit I don’t know if it is really effective and it seems relatively expensive…
On the contrary absolutely avoid beer traps. Studies have even shown their effectiveness, to the extent that they attract snails from afar… snails that would never have come to your vegetable garden without these “traps”. This only increases the snail population!
Place scarecrows or old CDs near the plantings.
Building a net during fruit ripening remains the most effective solution.
The spread of this insect is favored by warm and dry weather.
Next, we observe colonies of this small insect and its larvae (clear) under the leaves.
Natural Insect Repellents – decoction of tansy or garlic (on the edge of the crop, otherwise pay attention to the taste…) – are generally sufficient to repel this insect.
In addition to damage to animals, strawberries are also susceptible to some cryptogamic diseases, especially in heavy and calcareous soils…
We won’t go into detail here on the many cryptogamic diseases that can affect a strawberry plantation, but in addition to growing on mounds, I recommend carrying out preventive treatments based on horsetail and baking soda.
Harvest the strawberries
Strawberries, to release all their flavour, are harvested very ripe…but watch out, the competition is fierce!