By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 27 April 2016.
Strawberries and cream – on your table!
Six steps to strawberries in your garden
- Choose a pot. You could use a special herb or strawberry planter (about 50cm high and 20 cm wide with holes around the sides), an ordinary pot about 25-30cm across, a grow bag, or a trough.
- Buy the largest strawberry plants you can find: one for every 6-8 cm of the pot or trough edge (so you need 4 plants for a 25-30 cm pot).
- Put pieces of broken terracotta pots, or gravel, in the bottom of the pot to make sure the pot doesn’t become too soggy, and fill almost to the top with potting or multipurpose compost. In a strawberry planter, you fill to the first hole, insert a plant (see below), firm down gently and then fill to the next hole and so on.
- Tap the plants out of their pots and gently spread the roots to create a sort of circle which you place on the soil, cover with soil and firm down. Make sure all the roots are covered and the plants are firm.
- Put the pot in a sunny spot and keep it moist but not soggy. You may need to add netting to keep birds off early fruits, or add a whirly windmill to distract them.
- Buy the cream (and prosecco), order your Rattan garden chairs and be ready to tune to Wimbledon!
Compost of the week: what is good for strawberries?
Many gardening books and blogs recommend John Innes composts for different garden tasks.
Who and what is John Innes?
A nineteenth century London property and land dealer who left his estate to ‘improve horticulture through experiments and research’. This led to the John Innes Horticultural Research Institute where researchers developed techniques to create compost mixes suited to different stages of a plant’s growth. Composts are a mix of soil, peat, sand or grit and fertilisers. John Innes composts use soil that is screened (passed through a fine mesh to remove any stones, roots or other debris) and sterilised, then mixed with other ingredients to create the right air and water-holding properties and nutrients that different types and sizes of plants need to create three main composts called:
No.1 – for pricking out or potting-up young seedlings or rooted cuttings. This compost has a carefully balanced nutrient content to suit most young plants.
No.2 – for general potting of most house plants and vegetable plants into medium size pots or boxes. This compost has double the nutrient of No 1 in order to suit established plants. So, this is good for strawberry pots.
No.3 – an even richer mixture for final re-potting of vegetable plants, mature plants and shrubs in either interior planters or outdoor containers.
Other brands of potting compost include: GroSure, Levington’s, Westland and Humax as well as garden centre and supermarket own brands. They differ in content from each other, and from John Innes composts.
Peat free composts, such as Sylvagrow, are an increasingly important alternative to peat based composts. (Peat digging for the compost damages the environment.) Many peat free composts show good results and some advantages over peat.
What do I look for?
The most important thing to check when buying compost is what job is it designed for. Match the label on the sack to what you need to do: sowing seeds, potting seedlings up, potting larger plants, potting houseplants, potting mature plants or shrubs in containers, or special needs such as acid loving (ericaceous) plants or orchids.
So how does this compost differ from the compost we create in our kitchen compost bins? Find out all you ever want to know about your kitchen compost in a future blog!