Strawberries What Now?

The drill with the strawberry bed goes something like this; strawberries grow and ripen, we all say hooray, strawberries get eaten and we move onto the next thing, leaving the plants to their own devices until next March when it occurs that the bed really should be tidied if we expect to get a crop.  I apologise now if that’s not you but I have to hold my hands up and say guilty.

Strawberry PlantsThe life of a strawberry plant stands at three to four years and then it should be replaced. The choice is; to do without fruit for a year while the new plants establish, run two beds side by side, if you have ample space or as Mark Diacono very sensibly suggests in his book in his River Cottage Handbook – Fruit, to replace one third of the plants every year, which will keep you in berries and also spread any cost.

Strawberry Plants

I’m now at this stage and want to follow Mark’s advice. What it does mean however is that some of the plants will go into a fifth year, so time to mend my ways. The beginning of the flowers for next years crop develop in the crowns in July and August and they need some attention.  Any straw and weeds should be removed and the old leaves removed with shears or secateurs taking care not to damage the crown or any new leaves. The process is called defoliation.  Water the bed if it’s dry and give it a feed, I’ve used Tomorite but comfrey tea is also good. Then mulch the plants well.

Strawberry Plants

I did this a couple of weeks ago and the photographs show the plants this week.  I am also removing any runners and new blossom that has formed to keep the strength in the existing crown.

Here’s hoping for a bumper crop next year.

 

If you do this already I’d love to know how it’s worked for you or if you work in a different way perhaps you’d be kind enough to tell me in the comments.

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17 Responses to “Strawberries What Now?”

  1. Time to be an Adult August 20, 2014 @ 12:19 pm (#)

    Thanks for this post, I was wondering what to do with mine! Only problem I had this year was I used a strawberry planter pot with holes in the side, but I found the water just ran out and the plants didn’t do so well. Maybe I should block the holes a little and add more compost?

    • Victoria Wildman replied: — August 20th, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

      It is a problem with pots, though they do look very pretty. Yes, try to add compost that will hold water well. As the plants grow they should fill the holes. Next year when they come into flower is it also worth feeding them once a week.

  2. David Ford August 20, 2014 @ 5:07 pm (#)

    Victoria i am about to do exactly what you have mentioned here as i had new plants this year I will remove the new runners for stronger plants next year i note when weeding how shallow rooted strawberry plants are

    • Victoria Wildman replied: — August 20th, 2014 @ 5:11 pm

      Ours certainly are. So the keeping them well watered and weed free makes a lot of sense. I have got a few new ones to pop into the gaps and will see what it all looks like next spring/summer.  

  3. Caro August 20, 2014 @ 5:57 pm (#)

    It’s a time consuming job but has to be done.  I actually did remember to do this last year but my strawberry production this year was practically non-existent (maybe due to lack of water, a constant problem on my patch). I’ve never fed my strawberry plants, something worth considering for future years and I think it may be time to replace quite a few of my plants.  I’m certainly going to follow your advice and get rid of the runners!

    • Victoria Wildman replied: — August 20th, 2014 @ 6:47 pm

      We did get a good crop but I was watering every day.  We must have been nearly two months without significant rainfall. I’ve always cut the runners off because it’s what my mother did and it seems to be the right thing to do if the plants are a bit depleted.

  4. elaine August 20, 2014 @ 9:42 pm (#)

    Thank you for reminding me to do this job – my strawberries are so mixed up now I’m not sure how old they are – but they didn’t crop very well this year so I guess they are on their way out. I always grow half a dozen pots in the greenhouse for an early crop and when they have finished fruiting I usually plant them out into the garden – that way I get a certain amount of rotation. I always find it amazing just how much fruit you can get from a small space.

    • Victoria Wildman replied: — August 21st, 2014 @ 8:06 am

      Elaine, how lovely to hear from you. You’re very much missed over at UK Veg Gardeners.

      Our strawberry bed is small and I don’t get quite enough from it to make all the things I’d like. You’ve also got me thinking about the varieties and when they crop it would be good to extend the season a bit. I’d be interested to hear how you do your pots for the greenhouse. Have you written about it?

  5. Sue Garrett August 21, 2014 @ 9:09 am (#)

    We are starting a new strawberry bed this year – do you have a favourite variety?

    • Victoria Wildman replied: — August 21st, 2014 @ 9:16 am

      I wish I could answer that Sue. They got so mixed up when we planted them. I’ve just bought some ‘Ken Muir’ a new variety and Mara des Bois is supposed to be really good. Here’s the link to Ken Muir.

      Will be interested to know what you finally choose.

  6. allison August 21, 2014 @ 1:43 pm (#)

    I was under the impression that the s/berry runners
    were new plants, am I right or wrong ?

    • Victoria Wildman replied: — August 21st, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

      Yes, you can cultivate new plants from the runners.

  7. elaine August 21, 2014 @ 4:33 pm (#)

    Hi again,

    I usually use new plants (from my own runners) and plant into a good sized pot of 50/50 John Innes and Multipurpose in early spring – you get crops way ahead of outdoor plantings – after that I feed with tomato fertiliser once a week during the fruiting season.
    Elaine. p.s. I haven’t been visiting UKVG because I am trying to keep my computer time down to reasonable levels – blogging seemed to be taking over my life and I needed time to work on other things. But it was nice of you to say I have been missed – I must say I have missed the friendly camaraderie over there. I have only just started up the Woman of the Soil blog again, tentatively – but think I lost my audience now after such a long break

    • Victoria Wildman replied: — August 21st, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

      Very tempted to give that a go. Great to have an early crop.

      I’m sure once people know you’re writing again the audience will come.

  8. allison August 28, 2014 @ 3:56 pm (#)

    Thank you for my answer about runners, how do I keep them over winter
    that’s if they even grow, thanks again.

    • Victoria Wildman replied: — August 28th, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

      If you look along the runner you’ll see some little nodules.  These need to be in contact with the soil  so if you peg the runner down either side to position them so. The runner should then root at this point and once established can be detached carefully from the main plant. 

      Do that now if the runners are forming.

      The reason I’m not doing it is that I don’t need any new plants at the moment.

  9. allison November 3, 2014 @ 4:32 pm (#)

    I have taken new plants off my old strawberries
    can you tell me what to do with them over the
    winter please ?

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