Friday, April 11, 2008

June-Bearing Strawberries

Strawberry update!!!

I have a basket of June-bearers just outside my back door that is just a pleasure to watch. First of all, the older of the two plants in that basket is already growing strawberries!


The plant on the other side of the basket has been in it's sunny little home for only a day. You see, I'd decided I had more than enough strawberry plants with all those Alexandrias... but I'm still so drawn to them! So I stopped by the garden center at hell Wal-Mart while running an errand there yesterday and looked at all of their lovely strawberry plants. Some had berries already, but looked like they were in terrible shape. (Actually, just about everything was in bad shape there. I don't know if it was because they weren't sheltered in the recent storm or because it was Wal-Mart.) But next to those were beautiful, broad-leafed strawberry plants boasting a claim to pink blossoms, and all I could think about was how lovely that would look paired with the white-blossoming plant above.

I touched and sniffed and looked for interesting leaves. Then I picked up one plant and it seemed to tug right back, unwilling to leave its brothers and sisters. A little gentle investigation revealed that it had set out two runners into the separate pots of two other plants, so this was in fact three strawberry plants in one. At 88 cents a pot, how in the world could I pass up an experiment like this? I snatched it right up.

Once home, I snipped off the larger of the baby strawberry plants and put it in a pot. It already had a good start on its roots, you see, so it was time to take that work load off of the mother plant. The other one only had a few roots though, so I rigged up the set up you see below:


Basically, I potted the mother plant in her forever-home then dug a shallow indentation next to her so that I could pot the baby separately without cutting the runner it was attached to. I'll give it a few days to establish itself, then I'll "cut the cord" for the mother's sake.

That's the thing about runners. You end up with more plants, but the process takes a lot of energy from the mother plant. You have to cut the runners off if you want berries from the mother. If you don't want to sacrifice berry production in order to gain baby strawberry plants, then you want to cut the runners at first sight.

That said, you can also use this method to increase next year's berry yield significantly if you're in a warm environment or can otherwise over-winter the plants. Pinch off any blossoms as they appear, let those runners take root and grow a bit before cutting the cord, and then you'll have tons of plants for next year.

As for me, I'll stick with these two runners and snip anymore that show up. I really only got the June-bearers for instant gratification. Next year, I should be up to me ears in berries from the ever-bearers!


Mick said...

Hmm, strawberries. You're just trying to tempt me into trying to grow some aren't you? I never have in the past. But then there's a lot of things I've never grown in the past so maybe.....
You say you grow them in some kind of hanging basket? That sounds cool. I have room for one (or two)of those under the patio but it would only get sun for approx half the day. Suppose that wouldn't be enough would it. Watcha think?

I'm also threatening to splash out on a new digital camera cos the pics I take close up are terrible, my old HP 1 mega pixal being way out of date. Your pics seem really clear, what type do you have?

Elizabeth said...

Hey Mick, half a day of sun would actually be great. That's what my strawberry baskets get. Most strawberry varieties only call for "partial sun," so they're really flexible. You can find full-grown plants pretty inexpensively right now.

I have an Olympus FE-190, which was a gift from my husband. We love it because Chad can do more advanced stuff with it, but I can just point and shoot pictures without much effort.

Mick said...

So, so they live quite happily in a hanging basket?
Do you use any special medium to grow 'em in?
I quite like the idea of a hanging basket full of strawberries, it appeals to me. Just as long as I can keep the local House Finches from nesting in them, which they usually do when Jan and I hang one up. This can be a bit of a problem having birds nesting on the patio when you have 3 cats :-(

Elizabeth said...

We're lucky enough not to have any birds that try in nest in our baskets.... which is probably a very good thing, considering all the stray cats around here. Maybe you could drape some netting over the strawberries until the finches are done nesting.

As far as soil, I don't favor anything in particular for the strawberries. They're currently in "organic" MiracleGrow with some added compost. I'm not the biggest fan of MiracleGrow of any variety, but the plants seem to be pretty happy so far!

Elizabeth said...

Oh, and yes, they live quite happily in a basket. Two plants per container is probably a good balance of healthy and full-looking in the smaller hanging baskets