The Q&A Archives: Strawberry Patch

Question: My strawberry patch was very prolific this year; now that the season is over what do I do next? cut off runners? fertilize? mulch? Never had a patch before so do not know what comes next.

Answer: Strawberries are relatively easy to care for. Once fruit production stops, you can mow the plants down to remove the old foliage. Keep the mower blade on the high side; you want to remove the foliage, not damage the crowns of the plants. New leaves will grow until the weather gets cold, then all growth will stop. You can cut all or some of the runners off, or allow them to take root. Eventually you'll want some of the runners to develop new plants because strawberry beds slow production after 3-4 years and the plants should be renewed. Those that form on the ends of runners can be allowed to root where they may, or dug up, detached from the parent plant, and replanted wherever you'd like them to grow. Fertilize with one application of 5-10-10 now, and don't fertilize next spring. (Excess nitrogen will result in lots of foliage and few fruit!) When the ground is frozen mulch over the top of the bed with fresh straw, pine boughs, or other organic matter that will not mat down. In the spring, carefully rake away the mulch and your plants will begin producing leaves, stems and flowers.

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