This year was the first year that I’ve properly taken the time to grow strawberries. I’ve grown Elsanta strawberries because I’ve read that these are the most fruitful and reliable varieties on the market. I’ve planted these straight into the ground at the allotment and because its the first year I didn’t expect much of a crop, I thought I would just let the plants get established first – I did get a couple of strawberries, but I think these went straight to the birds and squirrels.
Toward the end of the crop, strawberry plants start to produce runners, also known as stolons. The runner will produce new shoots every 30cm or so and this is great because you can cultivate these new shoots into new plants.
Cultivating strawberry shoots from runners is incredibly easy.
- First, dig a hole in the ground of where you want the new strawberry plant to sit, and place a 2-3inch pot of multi-purpose compost into the ground.
- Take a shoot, and place it on top of, or into the pot of multipurpose compost, use a peg or a bent cocktail stick to hold the shoot down.
- Water thoroughly and within three to six weeks, you should have a plant with a fully established root stock ready to plant into the ground.
- If you want to concentrate the mother plant’s energy into the new shoot, cut the runner so that it doesn’t produce new shoots. Typically, you want to aim for around two to three new shoots per runner plant.
If run out of time to do the above, the strawberry plants will take root wherever, so you can always dig these up and plant them where you want them if this is more convenient. The strongest shoots tend to be the plants nearest to the mother plant.
During the fruiting season, it’s not unheard of to pick out the runners so that most of the plant energy is put into your fruit.
So I was at my local B&Q and I noticed that they were selling 12 strawberry plants for £10, bargain!
The variety of strawberry they were selling was Elsanta, a well tested and well-grown variety. It’s so well grown that the majority of strawberries found in UK supermarkets are Elsanta. The reason they’re grown so prolifically across the UK and Europe is because the fruit has a great flavor and a traditional strawberry flavoured scent. The strawberries are robust and have a lovely red colour.
Elsanta came to be when the Institute for Horticultural breeding IHB (now Plant Research International PRI) bred ‘Gorella Strawberry‘ with ‘Holiday Strawberry’ in 1975. The result is a plant that produces a high amount of fruits and fruits that have a long shelf life, making it the strawberry of choice for growers and trade.
The fruits are easy to harvest because they’re robust, have firm skins and are lovely and white inside.
Unfortunately, Elsanta are prone to following conditions and diseases – but like most things at the allotment, you just have to cross that bridge when you get to it – and deal with it when and if it comes to pass.
- Wilt (Verticillium dahliae)
- Crown rot (Phytophthora cactorum)
- Red core (Phytophthora fragariae)
- Fruit rot (Colletotrichum acutatum)
I’ve decided to plant my Elsanta Strawberries towards the back of the plot in the same bed as my little golden plum tree. Last year the ground was conditioned with some compost from the compost heap, so the bed I’m planting the strawberry plants into is slightly raised. Planting strawberry plants into the ground is easy – I positioned the plants on the bed first and then dug a hole for each plant, big enough for the plants.
As the plants get bigger I’ll look to place some hay in between the plants to help protect the plants from the slugs – because slugs hate anything sharp or scratchy against their skin. Fingers crossed these take off and I’ll be tucking into some gorgeous, juicy strawberries in time for Wimbledon.