I PLANTED THE ALL-STAR VARIETY OF STRAWBERRIES in spring of 2009 and got a reasonably good crop last year. I managed to prevent the chipmunks and other varmints from eating most of the berries by covering the plants with netting anchored by stones. I’m hoping for an even better crop this year.
In case you are considering growing strawberries, All-star produces a very attractive strawberry, but they aren’t as tasty as some that I have tried.
Now that the plants are entering their third growing season I have to consider how I’m going to make sure my strawberry crop continues into the fourth and fifth years because most varieties stop producing when the plants get that old.
My original plan
Originally, I planned to use the row method for ensuring that I continue to have two and three year old plants. The row method involves:
2. Mowing the mother plants after the June harvest to encourage that they send out shoots to establish daughter plants in the empty rows. I actually mow with a weed eater so that I can cut back only the mother plants.
3. Removing the mother plants in year four and encourage the two and three year old daughter plants to send new daughter plants into the space where the mother plants were.
The goal of this method is to ensure that you continue to have a steady stream of two and three year old plants. But the problem with this method is that it’s very hard to tell which plants are which after a while. The row system breaks down and you don’t really know how old the plants are. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to get the daughter plants to grow where you want them.
My new plan
I’ve now changed my plan for growing strawberries. Instead of having one bed with all the plants in it, I plan to have two beds and maybe even three. This year I plan to transplant a number of the very best one year old plants into a new bed.
Transplanting strawberries involves carefully digging up each plant and including some of the dirt with the roots to protect them. The next step is to transplant the plant into a hole that is big enough for all the dirt and roots, making sure to press the dirt down to eliminate any open spaces. Then water thoroughly. The bed should be in a sunny location that is well drained and the soil should be high in organic material. Strawberry plants like soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
I feed my strawberry plants both leaf mold compost and shellfish compost after the berries have been picked and just before I mow the plants. I also apply Neptune’s Harvest liquid seaweed and shellfish fertilizer in the spring to encourage vigorous leaf growth.
As cold temperatures approach, I cover the plants with oak leaves to allow the roots to continue to grow after the ground is frozen and to protect the strawberry crowns from frost. I pull off the leaves as soon as the danger of very cold weather is gone. This seems to give the plants a running start.
When the plants in the new bed start on their third growing season, I will start the process again in a newly compost amended bed. I may even see if I can get a different variety of strawberry plant that has improved flavor over the All-star variety.
What’s your plan for perpetuating strawberries? Let us know in the comment section below.
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