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.
The 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.
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.
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.