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strawberry plants

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by ladybug67 on October 12, 2005 02:53 AM
Can i cover my strawberry plants with straw now or should i wait??? Til the first frost???

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being a mom is the best job their is and hardest too!!! lol
by Patty S on October 12, 2005 07:32 AM
Strawberries are pretty hardy & can handle a nip or 2 of frost, so I think it's too early for you to cover them. (If you cover them too soon, you could be inviting disease & mold to set in as the autumn rains make the hay soggy & the weather is still warm enough to culture bacteria.) I don't cover mine at all for that very reason, because we have wet but not extremely cold winters here.

It's like being on a different planet, living in the Umpqua valley of Oregon's southwestern interior now, after being in NW Montana for so many years! It usually snows all around us, but we're pretty sheltered, so if we do get snow it comes down for about 20 minutes, but never sticks because it virtually never freezes here!
My strawberries flourish! Before I had both knees replaced & knew I wouldn't be able to get on my knees in the garden again, I moved my entire berry patch to planter boxes. I wired those to both sides of my chain-link garden fence.  -
Not much need for weeding anymore & they winter-over fine, just as they are! I have to keep them well watered (2 or 3 times a day, especially when it's 90+ in the summer). The cukes & peppers on the ground beneath them get their mid-day snack when the water drains from the planters.

I also made a Strawberry tower for my patio.
 - The runners were so pretty, cascading down from the tower, that I just let them grow! I didn't get many berries from the tower because all the energy was going to make runners, but since I took this pic I've planted them all in pony 6-packs & will give them to the local Garden Club for their fall plant sale. (about 180 new plants!)
Aren't I lucky?! [Smile] [clappy]

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by msjdw on October 18, 2005 12:16 PM
I planted some strawberry plants in one of those hanging plastic hangers that you hang in your house. I used potting soil, I gave them a week to rest and root but the plants won't grow. What should I do?


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by ladybug67 on October 20, 2005 03:01 AM
Patty, thanks for the info. your right it's to early to cover them i don't want it to get moldy or diesesed. Your plants are great, nice idea to put them up on a fence. I have one plant up on my porch and it still will give me a berry or two still and we are not far from the frost to come. But like msjdw My plant has not grown to much? not sure what to do? should i bring it in when we get a frost? or can i just leave it out all winter this one is in a pot not to big. I want to keep it on my porch, I wonder if it will produce all winter? inside ? or outside? any help will be great.

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being a mom is the best job their is and hardest too!!! lol
by Patty S on October 20, 2005 03:01 PM
msjdw & ladybug67, The only thing I can think of right off, is that they might be planted too deep. Notice that when a Strawberry plant puts a runner out, that runner sits on the very surface of the ground & sends roots down. [teacher] Take that hint from the plant itself, & plant them ONLY as far as the crown (the "knot" below the leaves) & NO deeper, because more likely than not, they'll rot instead of root. (When I snipped off the runners & potted mine I simply stuck the little "knots' barely into the soil & kept them moist. Within a few days I checked, & saw that root nubs were forming. When my grand daughter helped me, however, she pushed some of hers in deeper, & sure enough, the leaves started wilting in a few days & I guess they didn't have enough energy left to make a root at all, after they'd been "drowned in dirt" for just that short time... they never revived. [scaredy] )
I also mix sand with my soil, as they seem to like a wet but very well drained environment.... (which, msjdw, may be a factor in the poor results you've gotten.)

ladybug67, I see that you live in Mass & I know it can get pretty cold there. If your S-berries were in the ground I'd say to mulch them well after the 1st frost or 2, but since you have them in a pot/planter (which provides a lot of exposed surface for Jack Frost & his nasty Buddy, the Ice Man, to work on, under, around & through), I surely would suggest that you NOT leave it out there to freeze solid!

I've never tried to bring S-berries indoors, so I don't have a clue whether it'll produce during the winter months or not.... although I have a hunch you wont be able to provide enough sunlight for a plant like that to get the photosynthesis it requires, to produce. (Oh, Hey msjdw... Since I brought up photosynthesis, it occurs to me that there's a BIG possibility that's what your main problem is! S-berries are definitely full sun lovers, & if I understood you right, you have yours indoors... where maybe they aren't getting their RDA of sunshine! By the way, what part of the country are you in?)

I'm also not sure whether they actually NEED a dormant period or not, but judging from the way they behave here (where we don't have the extreme weather), I'm guessing that it's their nature to sortof "hibernate". I think that if you bring it in the house for the winter, be sure & don't let it dry out, but DON'T fertilize it... just keep it alive & feed it next spring ! (The leaves might turn red, which is normal sometimes, so don't panic if that happens... it's just getting ready for Christmas!)

We're talking about ONE S-berry plant, are we, ladybug67? Maybe it's not growing because it's single & doesn't have any "competition"!
[kissies] For the love of Pete, get the poor thing a friend! [gabby]
I don't know that it would do any good to send you a buddy for your lonely plant at this point, but if it's still around next spring, give me a holler & we'll see if we can't fix him/her up!! tee hee!) [Wink]

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by ladybug67 on October 23, 2005 01:36 AM
Patty Thanks, well not sure if it one plant, it maybe and i think it's one of those ever berring plants.I never thought it needed a friend lol.Oh now i feel bad lol, it's been lonly all summer ooh
should i go and plant this other S-berry plant out with the other ones i have?? they are a different plant out their, Is that ok???? what should i do with the runners i have outside just leave them?? Or should i cut and replant the runner?? please let me know soon and send me an email soon. we have been get some cold weather and not sure what to do, mulch- put it on top of the s-berry plant or can i use the straw and watch it to make sure its ok and not molding? Or can i cover it with a sheet for now and then when we do really get lots of day of frost use the mulch/or straw? PLEASE email me if you can or sent email letting me know of a reply!!!!!! thanks Danielle

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being a mom is the best job their is and hardest too!!! lol
by Patty S on October 24, 2005 04:17 PM
Danielle, covering your Strawberries with a sheet is OK for now, if you want to do that. If the leaves get frostbitten it's not going to hurt the plant... those leaves grow back new in the spring anyway, & meanwhile, the plant material from the dead leaves will be its own self-made mulch, as well as providing benefits for the soil. I don't know how cold it gets where you are, or how long your cold spells last, but even though S-berries are VERY hardy, the big issue, as far as I know, is to protect the plant itself from deep-freezing. Once the rains let up, go ahead & bury your S-berry patch in mulch/straw before you start getting heavy frosts & snow. (*)

When you cover them, with mulch or straw or whatever, too early (while you're still in the rainy season), you not only run the risk of mold setting in if the weather suddenly shifts to a warm spell for a week or so, but by having them covered up & staying wet, the plants get surrounded with moisture that doesn't have a chance to evaporate or settle into the ground... then when it does freeze hard, you've basically shrink-wrapped the plants in ice, which I don't think is a good thing! (*)

You're bound to lose some of them in the winter, which is OK, because they've probably sent runners out which are already established... because recycling themselves is what they do! (After an Ever-bearing S-berry plant is about 3 years old, it's basically done producing berries, but it may go on & keep sending runners out, & that's where your good fruit production will come from. If the old plants DO make berries, they're probably going to be a lot smaller, & not nearly as sweet as those from a 1st or 2nd year plant. June-bearers are productive for nearly 2 times longer than Ever-bearers. (*) I could go on, but I'm sort of getting off the subject here!)

Personally, I wouldn't mess around with molds, because it can contaminate your soil & spoil everything & there's not much chance of killing it off once it starts, without lots of dry air circulation... which plants aren't going to get much of, during the rainy season. (*)

You ask if you should plant 'Mr Lonely' out with the other S-berries. (I'm guessing that he's the "Ever-bearing" type, & the ones in your S-berry patch are "June-bearers"?) Sure, you can put him out there with the others if you want to! After all, S-berries let everything else invade their space, so why not a different type of their own kind?! [dunno]

As far as what to do with the runners, you can either leave them where they are & allow them to take root, or you can remove & plant them apart from the others, if you'd like to begin keeping track of where the newer plants are so you can eventually cull out the older, nonproductive plants & improve your over-all harvest.
HOWEVER, I don't know that NOW is the time to start doing a lot of that, because plants just aren't in their peak growing time right now, & if you are that close to a hard freeze, they might not have time to set roots down, & would be better off staying in the shelter of the older plants. (*)
You might want to wait until spring, then move some plants around & put the ones that you know are from this year's runners in an area together, & add to that from runners as they mature next year. (Thus, turning your Strawberry patch into a BERRY patch instead of a Berry PLANT patch!)

I hope I've answered your questions. Strawberries can be a fun, fascinating, rewarding, challenging (& YUMMY) hobby! If you're interested in raising some serious S-berries, I'll be happy to share what I know. (Just wait till I tell you that you should MOW them once, in the Spring!) [perplexed]
I think, however, that if I went on to tell you everything I've discovered about the Strawberry world, Mr. Bill might consider transferring me to some sort of Forum-wide IGNORE list, [tears] or build a permanent fire wall here to keep my long-winded self from signing in, [Eek!] in the best interest of preserving allowed Band Width!!!
If you want, I'll PM you with my Instant message screen name so maybe we can catch each other online sometime. (I didn't include that in my Profile, because I don't want the IM crashers & Spammers.)

(*) MY philosophy ONLY... stuff that seems logical to me & has worked for me... not from anything I've read about S-berry cultivation (mainly because I haven't read ANYTHING about it!)
Although I've had tremendous luck with Strawberries for years (even in Montana, where we had harsh winters & the ground froze 12-18" deep), I invite & welcome any corrections/comments from the EXPERTS, such as Master Gardeners, S-berry production people, Botanists, Horticulturists, etc. [teacher]
I'm more than willing to learn!

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