There’s nothing better than the sweet flavour of home-grown strawberries! Loved by children and adults alike, it’s little wonder this easy-to-grow groundcover is among the most popular food crops in Australian home gardens.
With its pretty white or pale pink flowers and familiar red berries which curiously bear their seeds on the outside, strawberries will crop throughout spring and summer with many varieties continuing through autumn.
At the nursery, if you’re familiar with Ralph you know that he loves his fruit and is a bit of a fruit bat. As a result he has an eagle eye for any ripe fruit around the place on stock and often beats us to the punch only to tell us how good they are after he scoffs them! Jealousy aside, it means he is always in search for the best tasting fruits in our area and this year he reckons he’s found the best strawberry. So after being extremely patient and (finally) nabbing one for myself (which is very hard I might add) I tend to agree with him.
The variety that holds Ralph’s top #1 favourite position and the one we all fight over is called Lowanna.
Lowanna is an Australian bred variety is easy to maintain with a high resistance to diseases. It fruits longer than other types of strawberries and yields highly aromatic, large conical shaped fruit with bright red glossy skin and firm, juicy, sweet flavoured flesh. Lowanna grows well both in pots and in the ground. I’d like to tell you they’re great in jam and desserts too! but I must give full disclosure; when its every man for themselves- we put ‘em in our mouth rather than a basket.
Now you know what variety to look for with good flavour appropriate to our climate, so here’s some hints and tips when it comes to growing:
Give strawberries a sunny position and improve the soil by digging in plenty of compost or rotted manures before planting. Good drainage is essential, so build up garden beds if your soil is heavy clay. Strawberries are also ideal for growing in pots, planters or even in hanging baskets on a sunny balcony or courtyard.
Maintain a good layer of mulch over the soil. This will conserve moisture, but it will also keep fruit in good condition by preventing it from touching the ground. Sugarcane is brilliant for this purpose due to its longevity. With its rough texture it’s also an undesirable texture for snails and slugs to crawl across.
Strawberries produce runners which makes them easy to propagate. It is recommended that strawberry plants be removed, thinned and the runners replanted every few years to ensure good crops and avoid overcrowding.
Birds also love strawberries as much as we do, so protect them with netting or place wire cages over your plants to protect your crop.
Lastly, and possibly most important; never reveal where you plant strawberries to others- I guarantee you wont want to share them! If by chance you’re found out then tell them to get their own at Wingham Nursery where you can get flowering (and fruiting plants depending if Ralph’s around!) $5.95 ea. or 3 for $15.
Wingham Nursery & Florist,
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