How To Grow Strawberries

Growing Strawberries In Barrels

A special method of growing either the summer-fruiting or perpetual strawberries is by cutting two-inch diameter holes in the staves of an old barrel, which is then filled with rich soil and the strawberries planted through the holes. This old system of growing strawberries makes strawberry growing possible in small areas and on terraces and patios. If castors are screwed round the base, the barrel can be twisted round to ensure even exposure to the sunshine.

Step by Step Instructions

1.  Cut several drainage holes in the base of the barrel before planting the strawberries.

strawberry barrel 1

2.  Put a layer of large stones in the base of the barrel to provide drainage.

strawberry barrel 2

3.  Put in strawberry plants, starting at the base first.

strawberry barrel 3

4.  Shingle poured down a drainpipe provides drainage in the middle of the barrel.

strawberry barrel 4

5.  As planting proceeds, lift the pipe up bit by it.

strawberry barrel 5

6.  Several months later, you should have a great crop of strawberries!

strawberry barrel 6

  • Strawing is unnecessary (except for plants growing at the top), picking is easy, requiring less stooping, and protection from birds is easily provided by a cage.
  • You must remember that strawberries require a neverfailing supply of moisture, particularly in the weeks after planting, and any water you apply to a barrel will tend to escape from the topmost holes. Before planting first ensure good drainage at the bottom. If there are no holes in the bottom, bore a dozen or so one-inch holes and then put in a two-inch layer of large crocks, broken brick rubble, clinker, etc.
  • The soil must be rich, to feed the relatively high concentration of plants, and with plenty of organic matter to absorb and retain moisture. A suitable mixture is John Innes potting compost No. 3. This compost will supply sufficient nutrients for the first season but feeding with a low-nitrogen high-potash liquid manure will be necessary in the second season.

Other Methods of Growing

More and more people are growing perpetual-fruiting strawberries to complement the summer crop. I must say that I delight in gathering them in November from under cloches. They can be planted, like the summer fruiting kinds, in autumn.

  • On cold, heavy soils the planting of perpetual strawberries is probably better deferred until spring.
  • Use a trowel for planting and take a hole out for each plant deep enough to accommodate the roots without bending them. Then return a little soil at the centre of the hole to make a mound on which the strawberry plant can ‘sit’ with its roots spread evenly around it.
  • The base of the crown should be just at soil level: if it is too high, roots are exposed and dry out, resulting in eventual death of the plant; while if the crown is half buried, it will either produce unwanted weak secondary growths or rot away entirely.
  • Plant firmly, using the handle of the trowel as a rammer As you proceed, see that the roots of plants awaiting their turn are not exposed to the wind. Finally, rake the bed smooth and give a good watering to settle the soil.

The perpetual-fruiting varieties, in fact, bear at least two distinct crops. In the first year after planting, the first batch of blossom should be removed to give the plants a chance to gain size and strength. Blossom appearing after the end of June is allowed to develop and the fruit will be ripe from late summer onwards. In sub-sequent years, you have the choice between two crops, one in June and one in autumn, and one, larger crop, earlier in autumn or in late summer.

Not long after the berries begin to develop, runners will appear. Unless these are required for propagation, they should be cut off with scissors so as not to waste the plant’s energies. With early-rooted plants set out early, runners may even be produced in the first autumn and these should certainly be removed. perpetual-fruiting varieties tend not to produce runners so freely as the summerfruiting kinds, but nevertheless these, too, should usually be removed unless required for increase.


Before the first ripening straw-berries are heavy enough to weigh the trusses down to the soil, some kind of protection is necessary to prevent the berries being splashed by mud. The tradi-tional method is to lay straw on the soil, barley straw being more easily tucked close to the plants than the stiffer wheat straw and less liable to be a carrier of the straw, weed by gentle hoeing, hand-pests than oat straw. Before putting down weeding, or spot application of weedkiller.

Increasing Strawberries

1.  To increase the stock of strawberries plunge a small pot in the soil near the parent plant

increasing stock of strawberries

2.  The young runner is potted up, and pegged down if necessary

young strawberry runner

3.  The runners are severed once the young plants begin to grow

severing strawberry runners

4.  Wire protectors will keep birds away from strawberries and allow air and light to reach the plants

wire protection for strawberries

Summer-fruiting Strawberries

Cambridge Prizewinner

  • Good for forcing and cloching.
  • Fair flavour.
  • Later fruits may be small

Cambridge Rival

  • Good for forcing and cloching.
  • Very good flavour.
  • Good for wet districts

Cambridge Vigourcambridge vigour strawberry variety

  • Good for forcing and cloching.
  • Gives very early and heavy crop in maiden year, afterwards mid-season.
  • Good flavour.

Senga Precosa

  • Good for cloching.
  • Round, firm fruit

Senga Precosana

  • Similar to ‘Precosa’, a little later, but larger berries and heavier crop.
  • Good flavour

Merton Herald

  • Suitable for cloching.
  • Shape and flavour of berries of ‘Royal Sovereign’ type


  • Good for cloching.
  • Moderate cropper.
  • Good flavour

Cambridge Favourite

  • Very popular commercial variety for cloches.
  • Attractive-looking fruit, heavy crops but little flavour


  • Large juicy fruit, showing resistance to grey mould.
  • Heavy cropper.
  • Fair flavour

Royal Sovereign

  • Good for forcing and cloches.
  • Large fruit for their excellent flavour.
  • Not an outstanding cropper


  • Medium-sized fruits of very good flavour.
  • Resistant to red core disease


  • Very sweet, juicy berries
  • In ‘Royal Sovereign’ class for flavour


  • Large berries, some of remarkable size.
  • Excellent flavour, in ‘Royal Sovereign’ class

His Excellency

  • Good for cloches and forcing.
  • Will fruit in open in June and again in autumn.
  • Very good flavour.

Merton Princess

  • Strong grower, giving heavy crop the first season.
  • Large berries of fairly good flavour

Senga Gigana

  • Very large berries with pleasant aromatic flavour

Senga Sengana

  • Similar but smaller berries than Gigana.
  • Widely used in Europe for processing

Cambridge Late Pine

  • Frost-resistant.
  • Fair cropper.
  • Good for bottling.
  • Very good flavour

Red Gauntlet

  • Large fruit.
  • Very heavy cropper.
  • Often produces second crop in autumn.
  • Little flavour


  • Heavy cropper.
  • Good flavour.
  • Resistant to red core.
  • On rich soils can make a very large plant


  • Heavy cropper but rather prone to grey mould.
  • Good flavour.
  • Last summer-fruiting variety to ripen.
  • Sometimes produces second crop in autumn

Perpetual-fruiting Strawberries


  • Heavy cropper.
  • Large berries of good flavour, mostly produced from August to October

Hampshire Maid

  • Large, dark berries of good flavour.
  • Good for jamming and canning.
  • Long season from late July


  • Large berries of excellent flavour at beginning of season.
  • Primary and secondary runners may fruit

Red Rich

  • Heavy cropper.
  • Fruit, dark, sweet and aromatic

Sans Rivale

  • Heavy cropper from September on.
  • Fair flavour

September Glow

  • Some berries very large, others medium to small.
  • Excellent flavour.
  • May need another variety to provide pollination.


  • The ‘Climbing Strawberry’ but has to be trained to climb.
  • Medium size berries of good flavour

St Claude

  • Some fruits large, some small.
  • Flavour good until end of September.
  • Good for jamming and freezing


  • Fruits in Three periods with heavy autumn crop.
  • Large berries, good flavour, very dark in colour

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