How to Grow Organic Strawberries in a Greenhouse
Strawberries are one of the most cherished fruits in the world. There are few places where they cannot be grown. However, strawberries can hold on to pesticides and herbicides even after they are washed. So as tasty as the supermarket strawberries might be, it might be best to grow your own organic strawberries in your greenhouse to avoid this.
Preparation for Greenhouse Organic Strawberries
A good greenhouse from Gabriel Ash should keep your strawberries protected from wind and sun for most of the day. Sufficient and good drainage in the greenhouse are essential elements in the success of your organic strawberry garden.
You should source your strawberry seeds very carefully. This is mainly because strawberries succumb to viruses and soil borne diseases easily. Choose a certified organic strawberry nursery that has a good reputation.
To get your strawberries off to a good start, clear the area of all weeds and grass, and dig two to three inches of compost into the top few inches of soil. Besides requiring rich soil, Strawberries also prefer slightly acidic soil wit a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Test your soil for pH, and then amend it if needed to raise its acidity level.
Continuing Care and Tips for Greenhouse Strawberries
When you are ready to plant in your prepared bed, dig holes the size of the rootball and plant it with the crown of the plant slightly above soil level. Backfill, and water your plants in well. Once your plants are in, mulch the beds with straw, shredded leaves, compost, or pine needles. Pine needles are great because they will raise the acidity level of your soil as they break down.
In spring, as growth begins, clear away any dead leaves and start checking regularly for aphids and other pests in the crown and elsewhere. If plants remain stunted and fail to grow, remove them immediately to the bin or bonfire, as they are showing clear signs of virus.
You should mulch the soil with straw once fruit begins to form. This keeps moisture in the soil and away from the fruit. You should keep moisture away from the fruit as much as possible. Where strawberries are grown through polythene, straw is not needed.
From June onwards your plants will begin to produce rapidly extending runners. These can be left and trained in to produce a matted row about 35 to 40cm wide, removing those that stray out of line. This will produce more fruit but of generally smaller size. It may also increase the likelihood of disease. Alternatively remove all runners regularly unless you need one or two to fill gaps in the rows.
Once the last strawberry has been tumbled down the throat, clear up the bed by cutting back all foliage (leaving a stump of 10cm or so) and removing it, and any straw, to the compost heap. Take care not to cut so deeply into the plant that the crowns are damaged. If necessary, keep the soil irrigated to ensure plenty of fresh new growth which will gather energy far more efficiently than those tired old leaves would have done.
Lastly, do not plant your strawberries in or near an area that you are growing tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants or raspberries. This is because these can have verticillium which can affect your organic strawberry garden.
You are ready to continuously harvest sweet tasting and organic strawberries for the next 3 years.