I’m setting up new strawberry beds this Spring with Everbearing Strawberries. My current bed has about 3500 strawberry plants, however I lost a lot from freezing over the winter. I have two patches that I cycle back and forth between every four or five years. The old patch is grown over with serious weeds and is overrun with new little plants from runners. There are so many weeds that that patch doesn’t produce much in berries if any. I decided that this is the year to rework that patch with raised beds as long as I had help available. The old bed is a real mess, so I decided to put in raised beds, new composted soil with a correct Ph (5.0 Ph). Yes, 5.0. I know there are websites telling you 6.0 or 6.5, but I have been growing strawberries for 40 years and take a very scientific approach to maintaining Ph, proper feeding and maintenance.
Junebearing average 10-12 ounces per season, Everbearing average 6-7 ounces per season and Day Neutral average 4-5 ounces per season. This is because Junebearing have one big harvest per season lasting 3-4 weeks, while Everbearing have one large June crop, and two smaller crops, with sporadic berries in between. Day Neutral produce berries from last frost to first frost, or in warm climates, year-round.
I dig up the rooted runners, making sure I have as much of the roots as possible . I use a spade to make sure I got all the roots. Strawberries don’t mind that you disturb the root; however they don’t like to have them ripped off the plant. I’m going to the trouble of putting in a raised bed with new composted soil and getting the Ph exactly where I want it at 5.0, so I really don’t want to add the old soil into my new beds. I CAREFULLY remove all the dirt from the roots, trying not to break any of the roots, because that can stress the plant. The next step is to prepare the soil for planting the bareroot. I create a trough in the soil about twice the length of the roots. I really don’t want to plant the roots deep, because I want to feed them and keep them moist. By spreading the roots out shallow they will grow down on their own, creating a much stronger and healthier root structure.
Next I separate the roots into two groups and lay the bareroot into the trench with half of the roots going into a separate direction . If you have a lot of time and patience you can fan them out in every direction, but it really isn’t necessary. I’m planting about 3000 bareroots, so this is a great compromise. I’ll gently cover the roots with soil, making sure that all the roots are covered, and that the crown is not covered . The crown is the base of the plant and should be planted so that it just extends above the soil line . I’ll gently pat the soil down around the crown so it stays covered after a rain or watering. Once you have your bareroots planted, you should water your plants . I add some Phosphorous to my water because it will reduce transplant shock and help your starts acclimate to their new environment.
I have 24-in wide raised beds, so I plant three rows of plants with 6-in to 8-in between plants . I plant in a pattern at 6” x 8” between plants as shown in the picture. The current plantings are shown as solid green. During the summer, I will let one runner grow per plant and rooting it in directly in the center shown as the green circle with white centers. After the season has ended, in late September, I will remove the solid original plants, and let one runner grow per new plant. Whenever you plant a new runner, you should clip any new runners and remove any blossoms for the first 60 days. This allows the plant to put all it’s energy into developing a strong root system. Your increased yields will more than make up for the loss of 60 days production, plus after 60 days you are getting both new and old plants producing. June bearing have a life of 7 years, and a peak production life of three with steadily declining yields after the third year. I prefer this method to renovating. Everbearing have a life of about 4 years with peak production life of two years, with significantly declining yields in year 3. Day Neutral have a 3 year life with diminished second year yields. Your strawberry bed will always be at peak production if you use this technique. Shortcake anyone?
Hotwired NY 5b
Enough goofing around – back to the garden
WOW! You certainly go to a great deal of trouble to get your Strawberries into the very condition possible! BTW, your imageshack link only leads to an error page!
Two years ago I lifted the whole bed of Strawberries on Gerry’s allotment & threw the majority away after rooting lots of runners. The bed did produce quite a few Strawberries but it was so badly infested with bindweed that I decided there was no way I was going to spend a 2nd year weeding the bed only to have to go back to doing iy all over again after a few weeks.
The runners were rooted into 3" pots, filled with new compost, sunk into the ground near the chosen runners. I later lifted the pots & planted the new plants in another bed a long way away from their original place. This bed gave its first crop last year & there was an enormous amount of berries. I planted them through a sheet of black plastic so I wouldn’t have to be weeding them constantly.
A few plants now have flowers so in a few weeks I hope we will be feasting on the first berries of the season!
Three years ago we started to harvest on the first day of Wimbledon but last year, due to the very hot April we had, we finished picking the last berries on the first day of Wimbledon! These were from the new bed I set up from the rooted runners.
I had no idea they needed such acid soil! We haven’t checked the ph level on the allotment but I imagine it’s a long way from being a ph5! Nobody that I know of on our allotments field does anything to modify the ph on their plots – except perhaps for liming for Brassicas – if even that!
I love reading your posts as I learn so much from them! This is only the start of my third season growing veg, during the best part of 50 years I’ve grown just flowering plants. I still feel “wet behind the ears”! I was always used to people asking me for advice but now I find the boot is on the other foot!
I fixed the link – the problem was I can’t use " for inches – I changed it to 6-in to 8-in and it now works.
The Ph of 5.0 is OPTIMUM, however a 6.0 will work, except your yields will be lower. As you start getting above 6.0, the higher Ph levels will block the plant from absorbing Phosphorous(P) and Potassium (K). Strawberries need Phosphorous for blossoms and fruiting, and Potassium for photosynthesis and fruiting.
I grew strawberries in a grow box last summer from bare root. They did well but I didn’t get to eat any. My Basset hound figured out it was food and picked them when they were green and ate them. I am just going with flowers there this year. He seems to know the difference!
Can I cut the runners from the mother plant and plant the runners separately? Thanks!
Make sure the runner has at least an inch of root showing. Runners get their energy through the umbilical from the parent until the runner is established. You can root them where they are and then pull them out and move them once they are established. I’m constantly relocating new plants that get away from me.
I’m going to root some runners from the best plants on the two allotments. I did it for the very first time 3 years ago & was very pleased & impressed by the harvest we got last year! We have started to harvest the first fruits this year, just a couple of days before Wimbledon began, last Monday 25th June.