Harvest Early Strawberries
Strawberries taste of summer, but at Bent Løschenkohl they are the taste of spring. It only takes a few old strawberry plants, plant boxes and ants.
Originally written by Nanna Stærmose
Edited by Louise Curly
Bent has chosen to hang his strawberries in his greenhouse. In this way, they are easier to pick. The rest, that the strawberries are hanging on, Bent has made himself. He also uses the rest to tie up his tomatoes and other tall plants during the season.
Photo: Bent Løschenkohl
Strawberries are the taste of an English summer, but if you can’t wait that long it’s possible, with the help of your greenhouse, to have an earlier crop.
Here’s how to do it.
In late winter dig up several plants from your strawberry beds and pot them up into containers – use a John Innes No 2 compost.
Snip off any old, dead leaves and runners. The warmth of the greenhouse will encourage a fresh crop of bright green leaves to appear.
Give the plants a good water and place in a bright spot.
To avoid slugs and snails you could try hanging strawberry containers from the roof of your greenhouse. These images are of hanging wooden troughs but hanging baskets would work too. Just make sure the frame of your greenhouse can support the weight, especially when the compost is wet.
Some are maybe tired of all the ants in their greenhouse, but for early strawberries, they are an advantage, as they pollinate the flowers. When the berries are eaten, you can transplant the plants in the garden.
Photo: Bent Løschenkohl
Strawberry flowers are pollinated by bees but this won’t be possible for indoor grown plants, so instead use an artist’s paintbrush to carefully hand pollinate the flowers. Using the brush gently tickle the yellow centres of each flower every day and this will spread pollen between the plants.
Once flowers appear feed with a dilute tomato or comfrey fertiliser every week.
When the plants have finished cropping they need to be planted outside. Forcing them to produce fruit earlier than normal will have exhausted the plants, so it’s best not to use these same plants for forcing again next year. Instead give them a year or so in the garden to recover.
Om Nanna Stærmose
Nanna is the Danish writer of many of the articles in the Greenhouse Forum.
Nanna visits happy greenhouse owners and tells their stories about basic cultivation, but also those stories that are more oblique.