Friday, July 26, 2013

Revamping a Strawberry Bed

Strawberries are over and the strawberry bed can be forgotten until next spring.

Right?

Wrong.

Now is the time to revamp your strawberry bed for a good crop next year. In fact, what you do now will make a huge difference in your crop next year.

There are different ways to revamp a strawberry bed. I'll show you how we do it, but you may have a method that works better for you.


First weed your strawberry bed. I didn't get a photo of this step so you'll just have to imagine a very weedy strawberry patch! You can see that the plants have all grown together. If we let the patch like this, next year they will be far too crowded, difficult to pick, and susceptible to disease.



After it was weeded, Ed cut it down with the weed-eater. We could have used the lawn mower if we raised the deck so that it didn't cut the strawberry plants too low. We didn't want to cut the crowns.



Then Ed tilled the patch into two rows again.

 

It feels cruel to do this, but it is allowing room for the plants to send out runners for vigorous new plants for next year's crop.



By now the strawberry patch looked rather poorly. You may think you have killed it. To help keep down the weeds, Ed spread some grass clippings in between the rows. We didn't want too thick of a layer because the runners will root out from the main row.

Then give the strawberries a good soak. Thankfully we got an inch of rain a few days later. If we would not have gotten rain, we would have laid down a soaker hose.



A week later the plants are sending up new growth. We will continue to make sure they get adequate rain the rest of the summer. A friend who has grown acres of strawberries for several decades says that the most important time for strawberries to receive moisture is in July and August. The size and number of the berries is dependent upon this summer moisture.

Besides a little weeding, this is all we do to the strawberries for the rest of the summer. In December, we will cover the patch with straw mulch to protect it, but basically our work is over.

How do you revamp your strawberry bed?

17 comments :

  1. Instead of using the tiller could you just remove plants in the row and plant them elsewhere?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. April - Yes, you can. I should have mentioned this. I actually have two strawberry beds (only one is pictured here because the other - well let's just say that it hasn't not been cared for!) I did not need any more strawberry beds, nor did I know of anyone who wanted strawberry plants. But if you do want more plants, this is the perfect time to move them to a new bed. Just make sure you water the new plants well until they are established because they will be especially vulnerable from the summer heat.
      Gina

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  2. We only have a tiny strawberry patch in our yard - as we live in town and have limited space. I usually just pull out some to give them room. I'm not quite sure what kind of strawberry plants they are, but they continue blooming and producing strawberries even now after we got the first batch. The strawberries are quite small, so maybe more moisture as you say is the trick to improving ours!
    Thanks for the ideas.

    PS A friend passed on a "Love Your Blog" award to me, and in return, I did a post sharing answers to some basic questions and linking to some of my favourite blogs. I linked to yours. Thanks for having such a wonderful blog! Here is the link to my post if you are curious. http://karabraun.blogspot.ca/2013/07/a-blog-award.html

    Have a great summer!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I transplanted my strawberries into the garden from trugs but to be honest I think they did better in the trugs. They are smothered by weeds in my garden :O( So I'm looking at going back to the trugs again!

    ReplyDelete
  4. WOW! I feel totally ignorant. Keep in mind that I was raised in Southern California & have lived in TN & AL for 25 years, but I honestly did NOT know that strawberries came from the same plant year after year. I thought you had to replant new plants every year! So this is new to me. I'll have to store this info away in my brain. for what it's worth? I didn't know that cantaloupes grew on the ground until I was 30 years old. yah, I thought they grew on trees!
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I live in the northeast so maybe our strawberry growing methods are different than yours. I know that in some places, strawberries are grown as annuals and replanted each year - so maybe your area is like this! Talk to a local gardening expert to find out your local recommendations.
      Gina

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  5. You said "send out runners for vigorous new plants for next year's crop," but those runners won't produce in the spring, will they? I am trying to learn about strawberries, and was told to nip all the buds on my first-year plants to let them establish themselves before producing. Just curious how you do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The runners WILL produce berries next spring. You are right that the usual recommendation for first year plants is to take off the blossoms. This is to allow the plant to grow roots and runners so that next year you will have a far larger crop (both in size and number of berries.)
      Gina

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  6. Useful info - I hope we'll have strawberry plants in our garden by next summer, and that I'll be looking this post up again in a year or two when they've had a chance to establish themselves. I never would have thought to weed whack them!
    -dep31-

    ReplyDelete
  7. Do you have raspberries too? This makes me wonder what I should do with my bushes after the season is over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do have raspberries. How you prune them depends on the kind of berry. Once I get it all figured out - maybe I should do a post on it!
      Gina

      Delete
  8. My patch is totally overgrown with quack grass (called "twitch" here in New Zealand!). So, I'm digging up the whole thing and moving crowns to a different bed, and hoping they'll have enough time to grow before spring that we get a small crop, and maybe better next year!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Someday hoping to have a small patch of strawberries. Yours looks so nice.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have yet to grow strawberries successfully. I'm hoping to start over next year.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow! that's amazing I never thought you could treat strawberry plants in that way and they keep producing for you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Gina,
    I have a couple of questions. We are getting our first set of strawberry plants (yay!) but I have been reading a lot and am now I'm not sure about what I am doing. You are the only person I "know" that cultivates strawberries. I would appreciate your input...
    1) I understand the planting process but not sure how I should arrange them for year to year production. I have ample garden space but it's already a large home garden...what is easy to maintain? I like the blog posts that you have about your strawberry patch.
    2) I know I need to keep the blooms off of the plant the first year for a good root establishment the following year, but what about the runners? Do I keep them?
    3) When you rejuvenate your patch with the tiller, do you till the old mother plants, keeping the runners as the new plants for next year or do you till the runners keeping the mother plants (the crowns you originally planted) year after year.

    Thanks for your input!
    Amanda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amanda -
      Thanks for your questions.
      1. I like to plant mine in a row the length of my garden. I you have more than one row, leave more space between rows then you think you'll need because they really do expand!
      2. Only take off the blooms the first year. You want to encourage runners.
      3. What I till depends upon the age of the plants. The first year or two I till the runners (not all- just enough to make rows). But after the second or third year the mother plants will be weak so I try to till the old plants leaving the runners for the new row.

      If you have one row the length of your garden, each year you can till up the mother plants, pushing the row further out into your garden. This has an added benefit of controlling weeds and giving the strawberries fresh soil to grow in.

      Does that make sense? Any more questions?
      Gina

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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