Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Raising Strawberries

Raising Strawberries:

Not such a hard job, as I thought.  But mine are still potted, who knows what will happen when I get them into the ground.

We started last year with 3 strawberry plants, and from those main plants, we gained 8 new ones.  This year, we purchased 25 bare root plants and now have over 70 new strawberry plants!  I had no idea they propagated so quickly and easily.  Strawberry ignorance has given way to strawberry bliss.

I have never ordered bare root plants before, and I admit to being very disappointed when the plants looked like a bunch of tiny dead twigs with the roots just hanging on.  They came in a wad together inside a damp plastic bag.  At the time, I was pretty sure we had just wasted our money.  

We went ahead anyway, and planted six plants each in a plastic bus box.  Quite useful, if not at all pretty.  

Filled with a rich potting soil and watered everyday, the dead twigs suddenly began showing signs of life and producing leaves.  Every one of them, we didn't lose a single plant.  Needless to say, I was shocked.  Aaaaaand, I had to apologize to my husband.  Don't ask.

After you get your strawberries planted, and they begin to grow larger and healthier, you'll begin to see long, thin runners with a baby plant attached and extending out from the main plant.  The above is what a "runner" looks like.  Each mother plant will send off a shoot, although I'm not sure what the average number of runners each plant produces, mine generally have 2 to 4 (another study worth researching).  If you don't take care of them and plant them where you want, they will plant themselves.  That runner will produce another runner, as well, so be prepared with your pre-filled starter pots!

If you don't want to plant the runners directly around your mother plant, then grab a starter pot, filled with potting soil, and gently press the roots into the soil and leave the baby plant there to take root.  Don't cut the runner yet.  I wait about 2 weeks to be sure the roots are secure in their new potted home, then just snip the runner from the baby to the main plant, and you have a new strawberry plant you can settle elsewhere, or move to a larger pot.

This is my husband's homemade strawberry collar.  It was something he says the Lord just brought to his mind last year when our plants weren't looking so swift.  They weren't growing or producing much at all, so hubby cut a cardboard collar with a hole in the center and placed it around the base of one plant.  The cardboard lifted the plant off of the dirt (no more rotted strawberries), and it helped keep the moisture in the soil.  I promise, the very next day, the plant began to look better, and within a few more days, it was a healthy growing strawberry plant again.  I'm sure that's the benefit to using hay or straw in your strawberry patch, but in a container, it's not so easy to keep "contained".  And like I said before, I'm strawberry ignorant.

Above is part of our "strawberry patch".  I am hoping I can find a permanent place for them in the next few months.  And prayerfully, we'll have plenty of strawberries next year for canning!

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