Need a better strawberry set up

emorems0(PA - 6a)October 10, 2013

Last year was our first garden at our new place, I planned a square foot garden and planted four squares of strawberries. They may be two different varieties and I don't recall what they are (one was from a hanging basket that somehow survived overwintering upside-down in the yard, the other was whatever plugs they had at Lowes that year).

The plants grew fine last year (and expanded to about 6 squares), but all the berries were tiny and shriveled. This year I had read about pinching off all of the flowers until June to get bigger berries, so I did that... sort of. I noticed as I was pinching them off that some of the flowers were MUCH larger than the others, so I left them. Those larger flowers were the only ones that produced nice strawberries, the rest were small and shriveled just like last year. As this season went on, the plants shot out runners like crazy and I clipped them off whenever I saw them leaving their 'squares', but I didn't prune inside the squares at all.

I fear they are really crowded now and if I want a harvest at all next year I need to figure out some other set up. I am NOT good at watering, so I think those strawberry 'towers' are out. I think now is the time to transplant, but I have no idea what to do with them. Pretty sure I could fill at least 8-10 squares, especially if I rooted the runners (I think sfg is 10 strawberries per square foot, so that's like 80-100 plants maybe?).

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I don't believe that sfg is suitable for strawberries, at least not as you describe it. Ten plants per square foot is 9 plants too many. As you have experienced, they are constantly spreading outside their boundaries. Thinning them out is a regular necessity. When the plants are too crowded, yield decreases and disease increases.

You also don't seem to have good stock. Propagating substandard plants will just give you more substandard plants.

This is now an excellent time to plant new strawberries, although time is growing short, except that the growers don't want to supply them in your [and my] area, so you may have to wait til spring to buy new plants. But you can at least be preparing the area now by ripping out all your existing plants and readying the ground for them.

You dont' say whether your plants are Junebearing or day neutral, and that's the first decision you need to make when you buy new plants.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 10:19AM
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emorems0(PA - 6a)

I was wrong about the number I originally planted per square foot... it was four, not 10 (which I believe is what the guidance says), but they have grown much thicker now and I know I need to do something about them.

What's the difference between June bearing and day neutral? They started producing in May and fizzled by early July so I'd guess that means June bearing (although I have gotten the occasional blossom and wimpy little strawberry since then and even now. Maybe I have two different types? I don't foresee myself buying new plants (at least not now), I'd like to be able to thin mine out and maybe a new set up this fall. I wonder if I'd be able to tell the difference between the two types... my guess is the Lowes strawberries are better stock than the 'random hanging basket' strawberries. I think the Lowes plants are the ones that produced the bigger/thicker runners (as I recall my hanging basket having thinner runners before I planted them all together.

Maybe if I can reduce my number of plants to just the Lowes plants plus any runners I can have an overall better stock for next year. Now that I talked myself through that (LOL), my real question is how to plant them... leave them in my SFG? Get one of those strawberry towers? Arrange mini raised rows with window planters to keep them contained and easier to pick?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 1:52AM
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