BOB EDMONDSON, A TOP COMMENTER on Suburban Hobby Farmer, has a great tip for transplanting strawberries on his Gardening with Bob Facebook page. It’s a novel method for propagating strawberries that results in very healthy daughter plants growing exactly where you want them. Plus, it makes it easy to share fabulous plants with your friends.
I haven’t seen Bob’s technique discussed in any of the gardening books or articles about growing strawberries, so you’ll probably be the first in your neighborhood if you try it. Most strawberry growing authorities use a more traditional approach, as I described in Transplanting Strawberries, Part One.
The problem with strawberries
One of the difficulties with growing strawberries is that most varieties are only productive in ages two through five. This means that you must continuously propagate new plants to maintain your harvest. Fortunately, strawberry plants send out new daughter plants on runners as a way to continue the life of the strawberry patch.
Left to their own devices, these daughter plants root wherever they land, often landing nearly on top of one another. Even backyard gardeners who employ the traditional row method of growing strawberries will have difficulty keeping track of the age of their plants, which is necessary to ensure a good number of productive plants year after year. Another point to keep in mind is crowded plants don’t grow as vigorously and are more susceptible to Mold on Strawberries.
To get control of his strawberry plants and deal with these problems, Bob uses a five-step strategy:
Step 1: Takes recycled four- or five- inch pots and fill them with a potting soil and compost mix.
Step 2: When plants start to grow runners, find the most vigorous daughter plants before they are rooted. Cut off the other runners, leaving only the selected plants.
Step 3: Dig holes in the ground under the remaining daughters and bury the potting soil-filled pots level with the ground.
Step 4: Place the daughters inside the pots and anchor the runners there using wire stakes in the shape of an upside down U. This keeps the new plants in the pots.
Step 5: Let the daughters root and grow strong in the pot. Bob lets the daughters grow all summer (about 10 weeks) and transplants them into a new bed in early fall.
He is careful to select only the two best daughters from each mother plant. He cuts off the rest. That way mother plants will be able to focus their resources, helping to ensure the transplants grow strong.
Of course, if you already have enough plants, you may want to give the daughters as gifts or offer them at your next plant swap. Better-than-nursery-grown strawberry plants are always a big hit.
Do you have a strategy for transplanting strawberry plants. Let us know by commenting below.