Strawberries just not growing...

silent88May 30, 2012

Hi everyone!

I have an issue with my strawberries... They just aren't growing! I planted them in late March (is that too late??). The variety is Albion, and stupidly I let them fruit what was already there from the store (those fruits didn't taste good anyways!). I was wondering if anyone had any clue as to what this could be. I'll try to provide additional information if anyone needs.

Thank you!


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howelbama(7 NJ)

Hmmm... What are they growing in? Looks like a lot of wood chips in the mix, are they well composted? If the chips are still fresh, they could be tying up nitrogen causing a deficiency. Are you fertilizing them?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:59PM
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Hi my parents hired a landscaper to do our yard and he put the soil in for my garden. I think he put a mix of compost and sand and stuff. I doubt it was the best quality, but someone at our local nursery alas the soil composition was good... But I dont know of they were fully composted. He said it was compost from a local vender. Or some kind of planting mix. I mixed in Dry organic vegetable fertilizer and a tiny bit f dry organic azaelea fertilizer because I thought they may like the ph down a bit, before I planted. Recently I mulches with compost mixed with dry vegetable fertilizer and then put more compost on top and watered in. Maybe I am not fertilizing enough? I can't seem to find any good organic liquid fert so I've just been stickig with the dry dusty stuff. It said to do it monthly.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:45AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I would agree, very short on fertilizer. Try 21-0-0, blood meal, or something else high in nitrogen.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 8:44AM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Yeah, you may want to try some fish emulsion or some other form of high nitrogen liquid fert... Just be careful with the fish emulsion if you use it, raccoons and the like love the smell and will dig the area up in search of the dead fish lol... A compost tea to drench the soil with could help as well... I make some using chickity doo doo fertilizer, a 5 gallon bucket, an old sock, and a cheapo aquarium pump... Works pretty well. They do like the soil on the acidic side, but not too low. I would shoot for 6.0 to 6.5. You may want to get an inexpensive stick in the soil ph meter to check the ph. They are not extremely accurate, but will give you an idea of where you are and if it's way out of range.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 7:56PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Sorry to throw more at you lol...

I think it's more than just a nitrogen deficiency based on the purpling of the stem and leaf fringes, I think that is usually a P deficiency. So I would recommend adding a well balanced fert. It may even be worth pulling them up and ammending the bed with a couple of bags of well rotted horse manure and or chicken manure etc... Just make sure the manure is well composted, then work in some good organic fertilizer like any of the espoma products. Then replant the strawberries and focus on just vegetative growth this year, allowing them to send out runners which you can allow to fill the bed. Then next year you will have strawberries galore. Just cover them with straw when the frost starts to hit, then pull the straw back in the spring leaving it in the bed around the plants as mulch and let them rip :)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:16PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

V. wilt?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:17PM
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V wilt? I sure hope not. I don't know how to tell what that looks like though.

So you recommend digging them up and replanting the same plants?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 6:16PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

I'm not sure if you absolutely need to dig them up, but I'm just not sure of the soil they are growing in...I think I could use some good ammending with some really well composted organic material. I'm wondering how well composted the compost the landscaper put in really was. If you do dig them up, just be as gentle on the roots as you can, take out a good ball of soil with them when you pull them. Then mix in some good stuff, and replant them and water them in well. We're they root bound in their pots when you planted them? We're they in peat pots, or plastic pots?

I don't think it's V wilt or disease, just major nutrient deficiency.

Below is a link to a UC Davis article about strawberry diseases... The verticulum wilt pics aren't that great though, but the new growth from the center of plant usually comes up deformed and stunted if that was the case... But it usually still green, not pale and purple like yours are.

Here is a link that might be useful: Strawberry diseases

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 9:02PM
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Okay thank you for the help! I'm making a compost tea to add to my garden with worm castings! Not sure if this is a strong fertilizer but maybe the bacteria will free up the dry fertilizer for use by the plants. Do you know of any good organic liquid fertilizers? I can't seem to really find any strong ones. I could always clean my fish tank and use the water.... lol.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 6:40PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

The worm casting themselves would be an excellent source of n, just mix some right in to the soil. The tea should help, but it doesn't really provide much as far as nutrients, rather it helps to boost the microbes in the soil which helps the roots to take up what available nutrients there are. As a foliar spray, it helps the plants to fend off disease and insects.

Fish emulsion like neptunes or Alaska is a great liquid source of n, and one or the other brand is usually available at any of the big box stores like hd or lowes. Just make sure the bottle is fresh as not a lot of people buy it so sometimes the product sits on the shelf for a long time and can solidify. You don't necessarily need high number n fert, just apply it more often if it's a lower number...

If the soil has a lot of un composted material like wood chips etc... You will need to fertilize more often as those materials break down... It takes a lot of n to compost that material which makes it unavailable to your plants... I think this may be what caused your problems initially.

Lol, I don't know if I would use your fish tank water... The ph adjusters and stuff you may have put in there might not be all that good for your garden.

At any rate, keep us updated, hopefully your plants will rebound soon!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 10:13PM
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Thanks! It just seems more economical to buy ones with a higher percent! I'll water with the worm castings tea and put the left over worm castings (about 1 pound) around the plants. Would coffee grounds work maybe too?

I made the tea yesterday and was going to apply it today, but I got so sick today I could hardly move... it didn't seem finished anyways.

And I don't put anything in my fish tanks except the dechlorinator for the water, as well as fertilizer for the plants that I have in there. I just don't trust the chemicals in the fish food!

I'll let you know how it goes in a few weeks. :)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 3:08AM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

You're right that the higher percentage stuff is more economical, organic stuff tends to be overpriced to begin with.

I think the N in the worm castings and whatever makes it in to the tea will probably be sufficient though. You may just have to fertilize more often until the microbes in your soil get well established.

I have never tried coffee grounds, but I have heard good things about them. I do know they are pretty acidic, so I would err on the side of moderation if you do try it.

Hope you feel better, and look forward to your updates, good luck!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Feels a bit weird bumping this old thread but my strawberries have perked up a bit and just wanted to show. :) I've done worm casting and regular compost tea on them.... they have a ways to go but they have improved a lot I think! I'll keep fertilizing...

(the crusty stuff is the extra worm poo...)


    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 4:21PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Major improvement, they look much better. I think you're on the right track. As runners start to form, I'd let them take root and fill in that bed.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Should I be letting them fill the bed? I thought you needed about 1 foot spacing between each which is what I originally did.

And glad they look better to you as well. Some stupid purple cut worm things are eating my strawberries so I sprayed them with some neem oil.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:36PM
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The one foot spacing is supposed to allow for runners.

Next year, you'll probably have to thin the bed but not this year.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 4:39AM
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