Strawberries In Your Garden
Everybody should have a strawberry bed, because it is not that difficult to have a successful bed of these delightful fruits.
Mid-August if the ideal time for making your new bed. A good open site must be chosen, for they do love and need the sunshine.
Strawberry plants are semi-permanent and it is necessary to prepare the soil by double digging with a very liberal amount of manuring.
If you are going to have a large area for your new plants, it might be worth while haveing a succession of strawberries by planting an early variety on the south side and a late variety on a semi-shady side.
If the soil is very heavy it is a good idea to add plenty of wood ash from the bonfire.
How to plant :
You can plant in rows at a foot apart, however a far better method is to plant in triangular groups, allowing six inches from plant to plant in the triangle and two feet apart each way between the triangles. This is the best way to plant to get the higher yields.
Plant the strawberries firmly and water in well. Make sure you hoe in-between the plants until the end of October and remove the runners as they grow.. If you do not remove the runners at this stage, the central crown of the plant will not get the necessary strength to produce the berries.
In the Spring, hoe the rows weekly, in order to encourage healthy growth and at the start of March it is a good idea to give the crop a top dressing of well rotten manure.
You must prune the runners when the blooms appear on the plants, and also, at this time put clean straw down between the plants.
The idea of the straw is first to protect the plant against any late frost and also to keep the fruit off the soil, where they might rot or get eaten by slugs. It will, of course, be necessary to put some sort of protection over the plants against birds.
The Life of the Plants:
Strawberry plants, in the main will only produce a good crop for three years. They would be fruit beyond that time, however it will be much reduced and not worth the ground used in growing.
The best way manage your crop is to replace one quarter every year. This will give you young plants and mature ones to pick from ever year. Strawberry plants can be fairly expensive to buy, fortunately it is very simple to propagate new stock
This is done in July by layering the runners coming from the plant, select the runners from first year old stock and obviously, the young plants obtained will be much stronger than those propagated from three year old plants.
Fill small pots with good compost and group them around your mother plant and lay up to four runners off one plant. Peg the runner to the compost in the pot and cut away from the mother plant when you see the first pair of leaves. Cut away any growth going beyond this point. Keep the pots moist and root action will be encouraged. When the runners are rooted, cut them from the mother plant, place in a shady spot and keep warted making the young plants ready for your bed next August.