Prepping new strawberry bed for winter?

2ajsmamaSeptember 24, 2012

Hi, I planted 30 crowns from Freecycle (so don't know what cultivar, but a June-bearing) in early April. They came through the freezes the end of that month and started sending out runners like crazy this summer. I pinched all blossoms off, and didn't mow them "after fruiting" since they didn't fruit and I was still trying to get them to spread in July - which they did (still sending out runners!).

So, how to prep them for winter? Should I thin them out (my matted rows are basically just a solid mat!), cut off runners, mow or weedwhack the leaves (how far down?)?

What about covering for the winter? Got down to low 40's a couple times the past few weeks, so far so good, but first frost isn't too far off. I was thinking of covering with burlap and then old hay, but is that too heavy a covering? Last winter was mild (except for 2ft of snow from freak Halloween storm), but the winter before had record-breaking snowfall amounts - actually I think I worry more about bitter cold without snow cover to insulate.

Thanks!

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fruitmaven.WIz5(5)

Let them get through several frosts before covering. You want the ground to be frozen solid before you cover them. You want to keep them frozen all winter, the covering of straw is to keep them cold. Otherwise, freeze-thaw cycles will hoist the shallow plants out of the ground. Uncover them in the spring a bit before the last frost, but keep the mulch handy in case the early flowers get caught in a late frost.

It's probably too late to thin them, that's best done in July or August. I think thinning might stress them too much before the winter, and there isn't a lot of time left to overcome stresses. Don't worry too much, they'll still produce fruit!

I wouldn't worry about mowing them, the frosts will kill the leaves eventually. I think the extra "fluff" from leaves actually protects the crown of the plant, a bit.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 10:16AM
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2ajsmama

Thanks - should I cut off the runners that haven't rooted yet? Thin in the spring (and maybe transplant the excess/daughter plants)?

I don't have straw, just old weathered hay and burlap. I was thinking burlap might be best to put down first, so I don't have to pick hay out of the bed in the spring?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 10:24AM
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fruitmaven.WIz5(5)

The hay will mat down over the winter, you'll want to keep a bit of mulch on it to keep the strawberries out of the dirt.
Probably thin next summer after the fruit is done. Otherwise you might spur the plants to grow, rather than fruiting. I imagine whatever runners haven't rooted will be killed by frost, so you can save yourself time and not worry about them.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 12:06PM
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2ajsmama

The strawberries are mulched with bark mulch right now, I pulled it aside to root the runners, but a lot rooted themselves, I guess it decomposed over the summer. I was thinking burlap over the plants and hay over that, remove both early April and put down new mulch around the plants to keep berries out of the dirt. Though some spots are so thickly grown I can't even *see* any dirt!

Or do I need to get some kind of mulch down in between the plants in the next month or so?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 1:27PM
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fruitmaven.WIz5(5)

No, your plan sounds fine.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 3:53PM
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2ajsmama

Great, thanks!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 5:20PM
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