Strawberry plants

kareng_growFebruary 24, 2011

I planted two different varieties of strawberries in a 3 x 10 raised bed last Summer in the North end of my garden space. I planted Quinaults in with my Fort Laramies that were there for their third Summer. I have read that I need to change location of strawberry plants every three to five years so maybe I need to just pick a different bed and replant. Maybe the Fort Laramies didn't like being with the Quinaults? Probably some incompatible cross pollination going on (something I wasn't thinking about at the time)? If I were to start again in a new bed, should I wait for runners or should I rip them all out and start again somewhere else? I have loved having fresh strawberries and would like to make it work but as I'm quickly learning, everything needs a little something different to make it grow at its best...advice is greatly appreciated...

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Karen,

I'm not exactly following what the problem is! Did one or the other of them die? I don't know of any problem with planting two different varieties together, unless one variety was so much stronger that it would "overtake" the other, but that doesn't seem too likely to me with strawberries.

I think you may have misunderstood about the "replanting." You don't need to move them to a different area every few years (unless there's some kind of a disease problem), but to keep getting a good crop every year, it's the PLANTS that need to be replaced. It's like they kind of "wear out" after 2-4 years, and the production goes way down. My brother (who has access to wholesale hort stuff) just tills under his whole (BIG) strawberry bed every few years and replants the whole thing, but if it were (money deprived and subject to retail prices!) me, I'd just be sure the plantlets on the runners were sufficiently anchored to the soil to root, and dig/cut out the older plants each year after the first 2 or 3 years. That way you should continue to have "fresh" plants that produce well for you. And as the runners form, you can "direct" them to the "open" areas where you want the new plants to grow. They can easily be "anchored" by using a piece of wire bent into a U, or by using some cheap "hairpins" (not bobby pins).

I only have a tiny little corner for strawberries, so I grow the runnerless Fragaria vesca, alpine strawberries. They're tiny, tiny berries but what they lack in size they WAY make up for with their absolutely amazing flavor.

Cross pollination doesn't effect the strawberries at all. A lot of people misunderstand this, but the only thing cross pollination effects is the SEEDS that are produced after the pollination---so if seeds cross pollinate, you won't necessarily get the same plant as the "parent" if you start a new plant from the seed. That's why there's a problem when people collect seed from something like a specific color/hybrid variety of columbine, and trade it as that variety or color. If it was pollinated by other columbine nearby, it might be the same as the original plant---but it might be different. Some plants cross and some don't! A lot of "straight species" plants, like my Aquilegia chrysantha, yellow columbine seed that I'm always giving away "comes true" from seed, even if it's near other columbine. So SOME species won't cross with other species, but very often hybrids/varieties within the same species WILL cross.

One exception to what I said about the "flower/fruit" not being effected by cross pollination is corn! Sweet corn can and does very easily cross pollinate with "field corn," and if you get/eat sweet corn that's crossed, chances are it's not gonna be "sweet" at all! But that's still not the "plant" that's changed, it's the SEED, which with corn happens to be what you eat! So in that case you would notice the "effect" of cross pollination even if you didn't plant the seeds. There may be other crops where the "product" is affected by cross pollination, but I'm not familiar with them if there are.

Just a quick lesson on cross pollination since so many people misunderstand how it effects plants.

If you were having some other problem with your strawberries that's not answered here, let us know.

We aim to please!


    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 1:19PM
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Hi Skybird,
Gee. I really didn't post the exact problem I was having did I? The biggest problem I had last Summer was a very low fruit production. I greatly appreciate the cross pollination lesson. That makes a ton of sense. I may try cutting out the plants around the secured runners this Summer so I'm not spending tons of money on new plants unnecessarily...I may try some of the Alpine variety too since I've heard tons of good things about them. I do love the taste of the Fort Laramies however. The Quinaults were okay but kind of weak tasting...
Sorry I asked you to try to read my mind : ). Thanks for the response...

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 3:16PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

The Psychic is in! LOL!

Strawberries really aren't too complicated to grow, so I was hoping I came up with something that helped! If your first strawberries were three years old, and the new ones were in their first year, it makes sense that you may not have had a really good crop. Three year plants are on the downhill side, and first year ones aren't quite fully geared up for production yet. I think you'll find you usually get your best crops off of your second year plants. If you didn't like the Quinaults as well, you can snip the runners off and just root the runners from the Ft. Laramies to get as many of those as you can. Or you could get a few of some other day-neutral variety to see what you think of them compared to the others. You have a pretty big bed, so there's certainly room for experimentation!

If you decide to try some of the F. vescas, just a heads up! When I say they're tiny, I MEAN they're TINY! The berries are oblong and barely over a quarter inch in length! They're everbearing, but you'll never get enough at the same time to "put in a bowl" to serve for dessert! They're also referred to as French gourmet strawberries, because, since they're so small, they're VERY expensive to get in any quantity to use in cooking. But they're absolutely wonderful for an Incomparable Burst of Strawberry when you're walking by in summer and see a few ripe ones!

If you decide to try some, you can do it cheaply! Seed is available--look for Fragaria vesca 'Ruegen' (or Ruegen Improved). If the packet is describing something much bigger than what I did above, it's not the "real thing." Still time for winter sowing--I'm not sure, but I think cold stratification may be helpful for germination--I have some out freezing and miserable on my deck right now!!! And if you decide to try some, I recommend putting them in one corner of your bed where you can keep the runners from the "big boys" away from them--I think they could be "overpowered!" But if you get a true F. vesca, I'm guessing you won't believe the impact of just one tiny berry the first time you eat one!

If you grow some, you MUST come back to tell me what you think the first time you eat one!


    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 4:47PM
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