Strawberries are perennials and will crop well for two to three years before losing vigour, so choose your site carefully before planting them. Also, one strawberry does not a summer make, so don’t be stingy – allocate four to six plants per person.
Strawberries need free-draining soil, full sun and irrigation. Prior to planting, enrich the soil with compost and strawberry food and feed any existing plants. Strawberries like food that’s high in potassium so if you can’t find strawberry fertiliser any sort of tomato fertiliser should be fine. In waterlogged conditions, the crowns can rot out and this also makes the ripening fruit susceptible to fungal diseases so mound up the soil when planting and plant on top, spacing plants 20–30cm apart.
Once your fruit starts to form, be sure to put up some netting so the birds don’t enjoy them before you do. Keep fruit dry by placing a layer of mulch beneath the plants – try sawdust, pea straw, black plastic or shredded cardboard. Magic Moss’s strawberry moss is made from sphagnum moss which has antifungal properties and is enriched with seaweed for added nutrients.
Strawberries in pots and hanging baskets do best if planted in a good quality potting mix and also should be fed regularly with liquid fertiliser. Water every couple of days and sit the pots in saucers. The more water the plants get while the fruit is developing, the bigger the berries will be. Then, at the first sign of red on their cheeks, stop watering, because from this point on you want firm, sweet berries, not bloated, mushy, tasteless ones.