Mid to late Spring is when those first juicy strawberries in the garden start to ripen and just beg to be eaten.
So October in South Australia is the start of the season. Not every variety will be ripening this month, so be patient. The strawberry season can last as long as into April or May next year.
|Beerenberg at Hahndorf, South Australia|
If you don't grow your own strawberries, then head up to Beerenberg at Hahndorf (Adelaide Hills) for their strawberry picking season which starts mid-October to May. It's the most wonderful family day out and ideal for jam makers. Beerenberg's website
October to May
What to do when first strawberry flowers appear?
Liquid fertilise just as the first petals begin the fall.
What should you watch out for?
Two usual infections to watch out for are fungus and virus.
October is typically a wet month, so when the rains come they come in heavy showers which may cause the strawberries to get moldy. Keeping the fruit as dry as possible helps to keep control of fungus.
If mold occurs on the fruit, pick it off, and inspect the other fruit surrounding it for similar signs. Remove any leaves that show signs of infection and bag them for the regular rubbish bin.
If you are growing your strawberries in a pot, make sure that the soil is not excessively wet constantly. If you have a self-water, drain it out from time to time to ensure good drainage.
Slugs and insects are another enemy that you need to be on the watch for.
Aphids need to be controlled immediately as they spread viruses.
A simple spray to control aphids is to use soapy water or pyrethrum spray.
A good tip is not to pick strawberries for making jam during a very rainy week. The fruit will be very low in pectin and swollen with moisture, so any attempts to make homemade jam (especially using lemon juice) will fail. (Had personal experience with this one.)
Wait for a good sunny week to pick strawberries.
Growing the best Strawberries possible.
Start with a good well known variety that is certified.
Some strawberries throw out runners, others don't. So choose the right type for your location. Runners even throw themselves down into the lawn if they run out of room in the container.
Strawberries actually like a slightly acidic soil so do not feed them any lime powder.
To naturally boost the acidity level, try a little sprinkling of shea-oak or pine needles.
Fertilise at the beginning of the fruiting season. The best start means the best taste.