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It's strawberry planting time

8 November 2012
It's strawberry planting time

And there's a fantastic range just arrived at the garden centres for you to enjoy plump, red, juicy berries from next summer. Planting strawberries in autumn makes good sense as they need a little frost on them to encourage them to set fruit.

Pick a range of varieties to give you sweet strawberries from early June to late September. Early fruiting varieties like 'Honeoye' are first off the block: they'll be even earlier if you cover the plants in February with a polythene cloche (also available at the garden centres).

Mid-season types include the popular 'Cambridge Favourite' and 'Elegance'; to carry on picking well into late summer add late-fruiting 'Florence'. Perpetual strawberries like 'Finesse' produce smaller crops but over a very long period, so you can extend the season still further.

Plant the bare-root crowns as soon as you get them home, choosing in a sunny spot in well-prepared soil: add soil improver and slow-release fertiliser such as bonemeal or Growmore, available at your favourite garden centre. Space plants 45cm apart, spreading roots out in the hole so the crown rests at ground level. Firm the plants in and water thoroughly, and you can expect your first flush of fruits from summer onwards.