Watering strawberry plants can be a tricky business. Too much water and the fruit will rot, too little water and the plants will wilt and the fruit will be small and sour. Here is a guide to help you water your strawberry plants just right.
When to water
The best time to water strawberry plants is in the morning, before the sun gets too hot. This gives the plants time to absorb the water before it evaporates. Water the plants at the base, not from above, to avoid getting the leaves wet. Wet leaves are more susceptible to disease.
How much to water
How much water your strawberry plants need will depend on the weather. In hot weather, they will need to be watered every day. In cooler weather, they will need to be watered every few days. The best way to tell if your plants need water is to stick your finger in the soil. If it feels dry, give them a drink.
What kind of water to use
It is best to use rainwater or distilled water for watering strawberry plants. Tap water can contain chemicals that can harm the plants. If you can’t get hold of rainwater or distilled water, leave tap water in an open container for 24 hours before using it, to allow the chemicals to evaporate.
Strawberry plants will benefit from a monthly feed of a balanced fertiliser. You can either use a granular fertiliser that you mix into the soil, or a liquid fertiliser that you dilute and apply with a watering can.
Mulching your strawberry plants will help to keep the fruit clean and prevent the plants from drying out. Use straw, bark chips or cocoa shells as a mulch. Apply a thick layer, about 5cm deep, around the plants, taking care not to cover the crowns of the plants. Replenish the mulch every few months.
Pests and diseases
Strawberry plants can be affected by a number of pests and diseases. The most common are aphids, slugs and snails, powdery mildew and leaf spot. Regularly check your plants for signs of pests or diseases and take action to treat them as soon as possible. The best way to prevent pests and diseases is to keep your plants healthy and well-watered.
Strawberries are ready to harvest when they are a deep red colour and come away from the plant easily when gently pulled. Pick the berries in the morning, before the sun gets too hot. Eat them straight away or store them in the fridge for up to a week.
This is the end of the guide
I hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below. Happy gardening!