Persuade your strawberries to fruit earlier by popping a cloche or fleece over your plants, trapping every last scrap of sunshine underneath and raising the temperature by a few degrees – just enough to bring them into flower weeks ahead of schedule.
Early varieties like ‘Honeoye’ work best for this, as they’re already bred to flower sooner than most types of strawberry. You’ll also need a cloche (easy-to-use clear polythene tunnel cloche are available from our garden centre in Poynings) or a double layer of fleece.
Once you start to see signs of spring growth, pop the cover over the top. Remember to check regularly and water as needed, as the rain won’t be able to reach them. Close the ends to begin with, but as soon as the plants start flowering open up the ends, or if it’s a warm day lift the cover off altogether so pollinating insects can get in (you can always close them up again if the nights are chilly). Add a high potash liquid plant food weekly – tomato feed is fine – to encourage a really heavy crop. You’ll find that strawberries kept cosy like this produce fruit weeks ahead of time – so you could be enjoying your summer berries as early as mid-May.