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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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Growing soft fruits
...- Protection
...- Selling
...- Beds

To start a strawberry bed, dig in plenty of manure.

All these soft fruits require food and water to perform to their best ability. Strawberries usually increase by runners. Runners are the little plants that they send out which root into the ground and start to grow on their own. As strawberries are naturally woodland plants, you can make them feel really at home by applying plenty of leafmould.

If you can plant the new plants in August, you will get an excellent crop next year. When your plants have flowered, apply straw or polythene as a mulch. This keeps the fruit off the ground. Netting will keep the birds off.

If you decide to grow Alpine strawberries, the simplest way is to buy them from a nurseryman as little plants. However, seeds planted in March will fruit the same year and they are clearly much cheaper. By selecting different varieties, you can pick strawberries well into the autumn. If you are selling the fruit into the retail trade, make sure that the berries are quite dry before putting them into punnets. Wet fruit rots quickly. We live in a strawberry-producing area and the shops are empty after a shower of rain.

Strawberry jam is traditional with scones and cream. It is delicious if well made and always sells well. When you work out the costings on producing jam from your strawberries, make sure that you are not turning your produce into jam when you would obtain a far higher price for the strawberries by selling them direct.

If your strawberries are ready before or after the general crop, you will receive a considerable boost in retail price.