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Winter and annual strawberry care for Zone 4?

Posted by Kjirstyn 4-MT (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 3, 12 at 11:50

I'm pretty new to gardening and don't want to ruin what looks to be a fabulous crop of strawberries coming up next year, so I have a couple questions: (I do know I need to mulch them pretty well since we're in Montana.)

1) When do I stop watering them? Is that a first frost thing?

2) How do each of you deal with replacing plants/letting suckers grow, etc.? My grandmother said she did fine with the same batch of plants for years on end, but all the books seem to be advocates of replacing them or having some confusing system of runners allowed to grow in some situations and not others, etc.

My strawberries are in a long raised bed, two rows wide. I planted them this spring and they have gone CRAZY with growth-- countless blooms showed up and I tried to keep up with them but even then we got several berries. I have kept most of the runners cut off because I understood that I should keep them back if I wanted a better fruit crop next year. What confuses me next is how to deal with successive years-- should I be allowing the runners to root next year since the plants will have fruited by then? Do I rip the first plants out after that takes place? And above all, how in the world do you keep straight which ones are old and new? :-)

Sorry, I know this is a lot of questions, but gardening books seemed to assume you know a certain amount before you start, and as much as I'd love to, I don't!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Winter and annual strawberry care for Zone 4?

There are a lot of systems. I follow one outlined by Norse nurseries, you can read it on thier website.

Usually for JUne bearers,the new plants are spaced around 12", all blossoms cut the first year, and all runners allowed to root until mid summer. This fills in the rows. Late runners are removed if you have the time as they are unlikely to take and crop the next year.
After the crop, the plants are cut back to the crowns and fertilized.This is called "rejuvenation" and seems very severe when you do it. AT the same time you thin the rows back and weed them out (because you can see everything with the leaves gone. If you don't thin them out they will get so thick as to stunt each other. I aim for a mix of ages to be left behind but want a plant every 4-6" when done.

RE: Winter and annual strawberry care for Zone 4?

I was a new strawberry grower 3 years ago, and like you I went crazy trying to do the right thing. I only planted 50 plants and must have had 1500 runners the first year. Last year I had only a few runners, and this year they are going crazy again with runners. I'm not too concerned about next years crop at this point. The soil is good, and there's lots of healthy plants, and as long as I mulch them so they survive the winter I'll see what is growing in the spring and thin accordingly. I stopped watering mine a few weeks ago, but we get lots of rain. Sounds like you'll have a good crop next year. You'll learn alot from your own experience as you go along. The good news is that strawberries grow like weeds.

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