The phenomenon that is strawberry is known by all of us – it is easily the tastiest and most popular seasonal fruit. As soon as the first ones appear, gourmets buy them without hesitation, carrying with them nets full of juicy strawberries. Thanks to their aroma, taste and because they can be processed in many ways. Strawberries are a valuable raw material for cakes, desserts, pies, jams, etc.
Growing strawberries, although not difficult, requires care of plants, in order to benefit from a rich and fertile harvest. The plant itself is not demanding, but it will soon fade if left alone. Therefore, in order to obtain the expected return, it should be properly cultivated at every stage of growth. A foil tunnel will be a safe and optimal place for strawberries.
This time in the Krosagro guide about crops under cover. We will tell you how to plant, grow and care for strawberries under cover step by step.
How were the strawberries formed?
Strawberries are not a result of natural process. It was a man that led to their creation. Well, it started with a wild strawberry. Strawberries, difficult to control in those days, were not easy to grow. It should also be remembered that the season for many fruits was very short and the varieties not as fertile as today. Wild strawberries enjoyed great popularity, but there were too few of them. Everything changed thanks to the King of France Louis XIV.
It was he who brought strawberries from Chile. The local varieties were crossed with the European ones and that is how strawberries were created, and their existence is due to the botanist Antoine Nicolas Duchesne.
What is strawberry?
The plant belongs to a group of perennials with a height of 15 to 45 cm from the Rosaceae family. Mature shrub develops leaves and white flowers during flowering. The edible part is a red, cream or purple fruit. Strawberries themselves have undergone many metamorphoses for many years. Plant manufacturers are constantly trying to select varieties with the best features. High resistance, best fruit and adapted to growth under cover.
Growing requirements for strawberries
For strawberries in a polytunnel to be successful, you need to choose the optimal location for plants. Ideally, it will be a sunny position, with soil rich in humus, macro- and microelements, ventilated and well-watered. Heavy and wet soils are not suitable for cultivation.
Even before the strawberries are planted, in order for the plants to develop properly. The first caring duties should be carried out. Sites should be carefully weeded and properly fertilized. If the gardener intends to build gardening crates in a foil tunnel or replace the substrate, then fertile, sandy-loamy, slightly acidic soils with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0, easily absorbing moisture will be an optimal choice. Plants have a very shallow root system, so it is important that soil structure is not too compact and of high quality.
Planting, sowing and spacing
It all depends on method and timing of substrate preparation. Strawberries are planted in early spring between April and May, in autumn or in the second half of summer.
When planting strawberries, it is worth choosing seedlings with a strong root system, without any signs of pathogens. By placing them permanently in the greenhouse , try not to cover the base of the leaves with new buds, while maintaining a spacing between the plants of 40 to 50 cm, and between rows up to 70 cm. At the end, the land is improved with tapping, watering, layer of straw, foil or agro textile.
When growing strawberries in seasonal polytunnels, plant them with a similar spacing between plants (from 40 to 50 cm), only reducing the distance between rows (from 30 to 40 cm).
One should be aware of too compact planting of shrubs, as plants will compete against each other for sun and begin to weaken. This has a negative effect on fruiting, and most importantly – on yielding. In this situation, the grower will harvest smaller and more acidic strawberries. In addition, all care treatments will be difficult.
There are many varieties of strawberries and seedlings on the market, just visit the first online store. Basically, the plant can be divided into two groups: those that bear fruit once, and those that produce repeatedly .
Repetitive varieties usually bear fruit for two months or until the first drops in temperature (autumn). We include Monterey, Portola, San Andreas and many more. It is good to know the strengths and weaknesses of each of them, and then choose the ones that are best suited. However, when it comes to fruit-bearing varieties, they are usually harvested for three weeks from June to July. This group includes Dukat, Onebon, Albione, Everest, etc.
Mulching and covering with agro textile are frequent care treatments applied together or occurring separately. However, by combining both methods, effective conditions for the development of plants are created. Although strawberries are frost hardy, cold winters or long-lasting frost lead to a weakening of yield. In addition, uncovered plants facing cold conditions are slower to develop and are more susceptible to infection by pathogens. Early varieties are covered with agro textile with even mini foil tunnels covering rows. This protects the shrubs, mainly the flowers against frost.
Weeding is necessary for the proper development of the plant, but the process itself is carried out when no mulch on the substrate is applied. All weeds are torn out by hand or by machines in such a way as not to damage the shrub and its roots.
Removal of weeds. Some of the varieties of strawberries release the so-called chickweed. The first ones appear during flowering, and grows stronger before fruiting. During this time, they should be systematically removed because they have the same harmful effects as weeds.
Watering is a must, especially during ripening and the stage of fruit setting. If the plant runs out of water or suffers from a shortage, the strawberries will be thiner. It is equally important to water the shrubs during flowering, but be careful not to pour water directly on the leaves. This can lead to the emergence of fungal diseases.
The nutrients in the form of manure and compost must be provided when creating rows with strawberries . The plant will grow in one place for several years, so it is important to provide the necessary elements for the soil as long as possible. Organic fertilizer can be manure or green manure. The use of mineral fertilizers with reduced nitrogen content is also optional. Nitrogen in small doses is adviced before the fruiting stage to improve the whole process.
Harvesting and storage
Depending on the variety, fruits are harvested from the end of May to the beginning of June. The activity is best carried out early in the morning, when it dew has dried. In a foil tunnel with lateral ventilation, pull up the opening and the air circulation will dry the plants. Pick strawberries from the bush, carefully pull it with the stalk, cutting it with a fingernail. When harvesting, be careful not to damage the fruits, as they bruise easily.
Strawberries are fruits of poor longevity, their storage is quite difficult. They can be stored in the fridge, but over time they should be frozen or processed into preserves. The recipes being so plentiful, strawberries will always find their application in the kitchen.
Strawberry health properties
In folk medicine, it was believed that the shape of the fruit reflected what they were supposed to cure. In many cases, this assumption was very wrong, but for some plants it worked well. Well, the heart-shaped strawberries really positively affect this organ. Scientific research confirmed that by eating fruits, you can lower the level of bad cholesterol and make it difficult to absorb fat, while reducing sugar levels, as long as you do not eat them combined with a high-calorie intake.
Pectin contained in strawberries stimulates intestines activity, while their organic acids stabilize digestion and accelerate metabolism. For people on a diet , they are the perfect treat. 100 grams of strawberries contains only 28 kcal. It is worth mentioning that they also support liver, gall bladder, and are diuretic. They consist of 90 % water, which helps kidneys.
A foil tunnel to grow strawberries
Producer of polytunnels, Krosagro provides constructions for hobby and professional crops. Small and multi-vegetation greenhouses are available for sale in the Krostrade online store. Large structures, on the other hand, are designed on demand. All you need to do is express your wishes, and the customer service office will give you all the necessary information to set up your production unit.