How to grow the strawberry tree in a biological way
The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo L., 1753) can be reproduced by seed or by transplanting plants, through young astones of some years of age also available in nurseries. The sowing is done instead in the period of October or November when the fruits have reached maturity. In the same period it is possible to transplant astones in the mild winter areas. In the colder areas, the end of the winter period and the first spring months are expected. Its cultivation can take place from the plains up to 800-1100 meters of foothills.
The strawberry tree prefers moderately acidic soils while avoiding those too calcareous. The ideal soil for strawberry trees is that of medium mixture with a good amount of sand in order to increase drainage capacity. Important is that they are well drained. The planting grounds for arbutus are about 3-4 meters between the plants and 4 to 5 meters between the rows.
After planting and for at least 2-3 years it will be necessary to provide winter protection by mulching at the base of the plants and in the first 20-30 cm of the stem using material such as straw. The best exposure for the strawberry tree plant is in full sun, it also tolerates half-shade positions. The strawberry tree tolerates cold even winter -15 degrees but not frozen or intense snowfall at the time of ripening. It also resists hot summers with high temperatures, both with medium-high humidity and with dry climate. Irrigation improves production yields but we must be careful about stagnation.
Fertilization of the strawberry tree is carried out in replanting with mature manure and then starting from the second year from the plant always with the use of cattle or equine manure to be administered as mulch on the root area, the manure must necessarily be well mature.
The most widespread form of cultivation for the strawberry tree plant is that of a sapling tree with pruning interventions that must be limited. Annually the basal suckers are removed with a cut cut to the ground unless you want to reproduce new plants. The cuts are made in April, after the cuts it is preferable to apply protective mastic.
The strawberry tree harvest takes place in the autumn period. The harvesting phase requires a lot of attention because on the plant are present the flowers that will give life in the year following the new fruits. It is therefore necessary not to damage the ramifications of the flower panicles. The collected fruits must be consumed quickly because they do not have long shelf life.
As for the main adversities of the strawberry tree, we recall: Rot of the collar, root rot, anthracnosis of strawberry tree, dry branches and stench of the stem, septoria of strawberry tree. There are also some insects that infest the strawberry tree plant, among the most important ones we mention the green aphid, the Tortricide of the shoots, the Oziorrinco (Otiorhynchus sulcatus). The use of Neem oil (to be used far from the harvest) that keeps many fungal attacks at bay is useful to the appearance of entomological attacks.