Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Ever since they came into cultivation thousands of years ago, strawberries have been in demand as an all-year-round available fruit because of their luscious flavour, as well as having high nutritional value. They are delicious eaten directly from the plant.

Strawberries are grown from the sub Polar Regions to the tropics, and belong to the Rosaceae family, which also includes roses, plums, apricots and apples. Although all the flowers are similar the fruit of the strawberry is quite different. The main difference is that the seeds are on the outside of the fruit, rather than being encased in flesh in the middle of the fruit. When it is the middle of winter in the south of Australia, it is harvest time in the north in Queensland.

Large sized strawberries are renowned for having no flavour. These varieties have now been replaced with new cultivars that have all the desirable qualities that are demanded of a strawberry - large fruit that is full of flavour are the two most important qualities that home gardeners and commercial growers are looking for. As well they want cultivars where the fruit is abundant and easy to find on the plant. Strawberry ‘Redlands Joy’ has red flesh all the way through to the middle, and is beautiful and sweet to taste. For those who live on the north coast the varieties ‘Kabarla’ and ‘Adina’ will grow well, while in the Sydney region ‘Sweetheart’, ‘Selekta’ and ‘Torrey’ are best. ‘Kunowase’ and ‘Cambridge Rival’ are two good cultivars that grow well in Victoria and Tasmania. ‘Alinta’ is an excellent, highly recommended variety for southern gardens.

To grow strawberries well soil preparation is essential. This requires copious amounts of a good organic fertiliser that has high levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash dug in well. Plant the runners into raised beds 30 cm apart. As soon as the plants start to flower, spray them with high potash liquid fertiliser, which will help the fruit to develop a beautiful sweet flavour. By March in the following year these plants will have developed new runners. In warmer climates like Queensland the plants should be treated as an annual, as the plants get tired more quickly. The old plants should be taken out and new runners replanted.

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