Fresh grown lettuce, peas, broccoli and carrots when you’re bundled up and there’s white stuff on the ground? Why, yes! I never thought it was possible until I had the opportunity to give gardening a go in my Palram Snap & Grow 6×8 Silver Greenhouse these past few years during winter and early spring. I learned a lot during my cold weather gardening ventures and have a few tips I’d like to share with you.
Flowering: Strawberries blossom most of the year, white flowers of 1-2cm with yellow pollens. Pollination: by bees. Pests: Slugs, birds.
Exposure: Strawberry plants need at least 8 hours of sunlight daily, so make sure your greenhouse is optimally positioned.
Planting: Use light soil, rich with organic matter (compost) and well drained. Strawberry seedlings work better than seeds. Plant them with 20-30 cm intervals. The seedlings need good aeration and temperatures as steady as possible. Keep your plants free from damp; remove runners and weed regularly in order to allow free access to nutrients.
Ventilation: It is important to provide free airflow in the greenhouse during daylight hours to allow plants develop properly and prevent high humidity levels, which are likely to evoke fungi and disease. Open vents will also allow bees to pollinate the plants. Weather forecasts can help you decide whether to leave the vents open for aeration or seal them to maintain warmth.
Irrigation: After planting, first allow the soil to dry and then water until saturation – when up to a third of the water drains out of the planter. When planting directly to the ground, you can determine the required amount by gradually decreasing the water dose until the plant shows a sign of dryness that marks the lower watering limit.
5. Protection: Since strawberry plants are shallow rooted, the soil must be kept moist. They are susceptible to diseases and pests (they are loved by all, not just us humans). Fabric planting containers or grow pots form an effective shield from cold and pests and are highly recommended. The fruit is sensitive to cold and moisture so it is recommended to keep it away from the ground using a separator, such as a sheet of plastic.
Expansion: Mature strawberry plants send out extensions from which new plants will develop, in other planters or unoccupied ground. These extensions should be manually directed to where they are likely to thrive. If you intend to trim extensions, wait until they dry completely out of the ground.
Enjoy the fruit: Remember, redder means sweeter, so we recommend picking the strawberries when they turn entirely red. The sweet and acidulous fruit is delicious as is, but also in beverages, cakes and muesli.