Bring in strawberry plants for forcing to enjoy your earliest-ever juicy, sweet berries this summer. You’ll find everything you need at our garden centre here in Chorley, from potted strawberry plants to containers, compost and feed – and while you’re here, why not treat yourself to a brand new greenhouse to put them in!
An early variety of strawberry, like ‘Honeoye’, is best as they’re already bred to fruit earlier in the season. Pot them up about six plants to a 45cm diameter container, or give them individual 15cm containers if you prefer.
Bring them inside and give them a sunny spot in the greenhouse or on a windowsill – the warmer they are, the sooner they'll fruit. Then water regularly and start feeding weekly with high-potash feed (tomato feed is fine) as soon as they produce flowers.
This early in the season, there won't be enough pollinating insects around so you'll have to do their job yourself. Take a soft artist's paintbrush and gently work it into the centre of each flower in turn to transfer the pollen from one to the next. Do this every couple of days and you should find fruit sets generously, and you can look forward to strawberries for tea from around May onwards.