Winter and annual strawberry care for Zone 4?
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!