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Winterizing Strawberry SFG

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Post  yolos 1/19/2013, 3:32 pm

I have looked through the various strawberry threads but can't seem to find an answer to two questions.

Our temperatures in my area get down below freezing about 2 to 3 times a week and up into the 50's and 60's during the day. About twice a year we get temperatures in the teens.

1). I have one 4' x 8' strawberry bed that I started in the spring of 2012. I am experimenting with the following varieties: Sequoia, Quinalt, Frissan, and Toscana. In the fall, the leaves from the live oak next to the SFG covered the bed in about 1" of leaves. But do I need to do anything else to get this bed ready for spring (such as cover the bed with more mulch, cut back the dead leaves on the plants, etc.). There is still a lot of green leaves on the plants.

2). The second question relates to the babies I cut off the mothers at the end of the season. I cut off all the babies that formed and hung over the sides of the boxes. I rooted them in a cement tub and have kept them on my porch and rolled them into the house when the temperatures dipped below freezing. They are all still green and doing well. But, do they need a period of freezing, dieing back, cutting back to get them to produce again in the spring. Or can I just keep rolling them inside to keep them from freezing and then transplant them early in the spring?
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Post  CapeCoddess 1/19/2013, 5:22 pm

1) I just read that for zone 7a (me:) I need to fertilize my strawberries and add more compost in January. My guess would be that you could, too. I doubt I'll be fertilizing, unless it's a bit of the golden kind.

2) I got nuttin'. I left my babies on thinking I'd cut them this spring. Was that a mistake? Rolling Eyes

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Post  littlejo 1/19/2013, 5:23 pm

Freezing weather will not hurt your strawberries
The beds will be fine with or without the leaves. A mulch is good for the winter especially in severely cold areas.

As far as the babies, keeping them inside might cause them to not know what to do when, I hope that makes sense. I would find some leaves or pine needles, put on the babies, and leave outside.
Pay attention to when they start blooming in your area. Remove the mulch when you see a few blooms. You could go ahead and plant your babies now or wait for blooming time. I'm a little further south than you, and mine are blooming, and I have a couple berries already!
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Post  littlejo 1/19/2013, 5:32 pm

CapeCoddess wrote:1) I just read that for zone 7a (me:) I need to fertilize my strawberries and add more compost in January. My guess would be that you could, too. I doubt I'll be fertilizing, unless it's a bit of the golden kind.

2) I got nuttin'. I left my babies on thinking I'd cut them this spring. Was that a mistake? Rolling Eyes

CC
I usually add some compost as I'm looking for berries. I didn't cut the babies off last fall either. My babies are blooming, even the ones that went over the side into the isles. I don't follow the rules too closely. Most of those are for 'big farms' that use commercial fertilizers and pesticides. I also don't remove blooms on any of my plants?
Strawberries retain the high use of pesticides, it gets in the berry and you cannot wash it off.
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Post  Turnip 1/27/2013, 9:18 pm

I have just left my Sequoia strawberries in the ground and in the strawberry pots in the past. We will still have freezes..probably tonight..and until the beginning of April. But I cleaned out my strawberry pots, mixed up some MM, and started with new bare root Sequoias. I bought a house in Oct. and brought what I could of my garden, so I'm just getting started at the new place. The old yard was only 3 miles away, but a bit colder...so I should do ok with strawberries here, too.

I just let them go crazy in the ground before..no insecticides..slugs liked them if I didn't get the Sluggo out there regularly...but never had a frost issue with the babies or anything.

I'm new to SFG and MM, but I have a landscape design background and have been a lifelong food gardener..

Good luck with your strawberries..I think they are way hardier than people realize!

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Post  Icemaiden 1/28/2013, 5:33 pm

Hi! Guess I'm in Zone 7 or thereabouts.
Strawberry plants will survive with no extra care at all but you won't get the best possible crop.
I think it is good to let the dead leaves be until spring - they provide some shelter from the cold. Clip them away (or pull if they are loose) once there is some new growth and the weather is a bit warmer. Spread some compost/fertilizer below the leaves at the same time.
I leave the baby plants to root any old place and then move them around in the spring. You can cut the runners away once they are rooted but there is no need.
I like to leave my plants uncovered until about Christmas and then I cover them over with a moveable cold-frame affair. before I got that I used horticultural fleece, that thin white stuff that sort of floats over the top - fasten it down with rocks else it floats off in a storm! But like I say, they will live fine with no covering at all but will flower a couple of weeks later.
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Post  Hoggar 1/29/2013, 12:18 pm

My Strawberrys currently live in a large flower pot in USDA Zone 6b. I don't do any thing to protect them in the winter and I just clip off the dead parts in the spring and toss them in the pot. There going on there third year this season BUT! there getting a new bigger box because the wife likes the strawberries.
Me on the other hand... Winterizing Strawberry SFG About-to-vomit
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Post  Turnip 1/29/2013, 11:48 pm

We have a Strawberry Festival in Roseville the third weekend of April..so you know our strawberries are already planted around here! There are still lots of strawberry fields around Sacramento..not as many as there were maybe 7 years ago (the housing boom caused the death of some fields in the suburbs..)

Mine did better in the ground than in the pots at the old house..but I have a more varied amount of sunlight here..so I'm hoping I can give them the filtered light they seem to like here, rather than cooking them in full sun!

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Post  JackieB999 1/30/2013, 6:54 pm

I just bought some Quinalt and put them in a Topsy Turvy with MM. Check out my avatar. I bought the Quinalt because it's a perenial in most zones. I will update pics as it grows.

From all I've read, to winterize them outside they need 6 inches of mulch if you're in an area where it snows. If not, then just cover them up and let them go until spring. The plant will go dormant and look dead in cold areas, so snip off the dead stuff when you uncover them in the spring.

Where I am in Florida, I hope to keep the TT going year round for as long as I can. Since we grow a lot of strawberries down here, I dont think the plant has to have a hard winter cycle to survive or grow nice berries.
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Post  yolos 3/31/2013, 8:50 pm

yolos wrote:I have looked through the various strawberry threads but can't seem to find an answer to two questions.

Our temperatures in my area get down below freezing about 2 to 3 times a week and up into the 50's and 60's during the day. About twice a year we get temperatures in the teens.

1). I have one 4' x 8' strawberry bed that I started in the spring of 2012. I am experimenting with the following varieties: Sequoia, Quinalt, Frissan, and Toscana. In the fall, the leaves from the live oak next to the SFG covered the bed in about 1" of leaves. But do I need to do anything else to get this bed ready for spring (such as cover the bed with more mulch, cut back the dead leaves on the plants, etc.). There is still a lot of green leaves on the plants.

2). The second question relates to the babies I cut off the mothers at the end of the season. I cut off all the babies that formed and hung over the sides of the boxes. I rooted them in a cement tub and have kept them on my porch and rolled them into the house when the temperatures dipped below freezing. They are all still green and doing well. But, do they need a period of freezing, dieing back, cutting back to get them to produce again in the spring. Or can I just keep rolling them inside to keep them from freezing and then transplant them early in the spring?

Okay, I did what someone suggested above and did nothing to my strawberry beds. In the fall, I just left the 1-2 inches of leaves on top and did not trim any dead leaves.

Now it is spring and I had to do something with the mess. I removed the dead strawberry leaves and runners and the oak leaves from some of the squares. But it took me 15 minutes per square to clean each square. As this bed is 32 squares, that is a lot of time.

So my question now is, is there an easier way to handle this situation. The UGA extension notice says to mow them with a lawn mower but keep it raised high enough to not injure the crowns. Well I can't mow the raised bed so I can't do that. Somebody told me to get a weed wacker and try that. No way did I want to try that.

So what would you all suggest next time. Here is the bed partially cleaned out. (my grandson wanted his frog in the picture). The oak leaves are all tangled up in the runners and dead strawberry leaves so I have to cut the strawberry leaves and runners or I can't get the oak leaves out. I have to get it cleaned up in order to add new compost. Any suggestions now or for next time.

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Post  littlejo 3/31/2013, 11:19 pm

I wouldn't worry myself with the rules on what you are supposed to do. I just take a leaf rake and get off as much of the mulch as will come off easily, sometimes I use a hand tool with the tines. I don't add the compost til after they stop bearing. They will bloom and bear whether you do anything or not. See my avatar. That was a runner that had rooted in the isle in the wood chips. I have lots of blooms but not many bees, so maybe this week, the bees will come and I'll get more berries.
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Post  CindiLou 4/1/2013, 12:48 am

Well, mine aren't in MM. But I leave the leaves on till spring. When I start seeing a little green I clean up. The babies I leave on then I move them to spots that seem to need them in the spring.
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Post  camprn 4/1/2013, 6:46 am

Strawberries can be high maintenance for sure. I think the mowing actually is supposed to remove debris and stimulate new growth. Yolos, maybe a pair of hand garden trimming shears is what you need.
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How to Grow Strawberries

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Post  yolos 4/1/2013, 10:27 am

Thanks camprn - that is the best explanation I have seen. Tells me why I am supposed to mow/prune and when. I will have to look up what varieties I planted to see when/if to prune. I also followed the link to what variety is recommended for Georgia. I have five different varieties in my bed but unfortunately none of them are the recommended variety for GA. Oh well.
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Post  camprn 4/1/2013, 11:47 am

CapeCoddess wrote:

2) I got nuttin'. I left my babies on thinking I'd cut them this spring. Was that a mistake? Rolling Eyes

CC
Let us know how it goes.

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Post  quiltbea 4/1/2013, 1:58 pm

Yolos.....I cover mine with straw in the fall and then they are blanketed with snow all winter. In the spring, its an easy chore to remove the straw in big bunches even if they have fall leaves on top of them. Just lift. If some of the straw is left behind, no problem. Serves as a light mulch later after I've added the spring's compost.
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Post  NHGardener 4/1/2013, 2:26 pm

I just lifted some straw off my strawberries today and - surprise! - there were green strawberry leaves under there! But I didn't take the straw off because it's supposed to get really cold the next couple of nights, I just kind of fluffed the straw.

I also didn't cut my runners last year, so we'll see what happens this year. And not looking forward to hedge clipping my strawberries a week after harvest (I hope I know when that is) but if they say it's necessary, I guess it is.
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Post  yolos 4/2/2013, 9:11 pm

Apparently, straw is a good mulch for STRAWberries. But what do you do when your straw sprouts. I used wheat straw to mulch a few containers I used and to put on top of my finished compost bin. Every last one of those have a hugh growth of straw growing in them. Here is my finished compost bin mulched with wheat straw to keep in moisture and nutrients. The wheat straw is 2 to 3 feet tall. Winterizing Strawberry SFG 671790

Winterizing Strawberry SFG Wheat_10

The growth is nice and lush and deep green. My compost must be real good and the green will be good for my compost bin. BUT why isn't anyone else having this problem if you put wheat straw in your strawberry beds. Maybe it is the climate here. thinking

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Post  bnoles 4/2/2013, 9:24 pm

Yolos, I used pine straw on my strawberry bed and it works great with no after greens
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Post  NHGardener 4/2/2013, 9:48 pm

Wow yolos, forget the strawberries, you have a beautiful crop of wheat there! (Is that what that green growth is, or am I looking at that wrong?)

I don't know why yours did that, I have straw on mine but it just sat there under the snow all winter. Altho it was months old already when I put it down.
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Post  yolos 4/2/2013, 10:19 pm

NHGardener wrote:Wow yolos, forget the strawberries, you have a beautiful crop of wheat there! (Is that what that green growth is, or am I looking at that wrong?)

You are looking at it right. That green growth is wheat growing on the top of my bin where I mulched my finished compost. It is growing in every pot I used last year and mulched with wheat straw.

Bnoles - I think the pine straw would be a better alternative. Thanks for the suggestion. I will try it this year. Do you put the pine straw on now or after harvesting the berries.
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Post  bnoles 4/2/2013, 10:28 pm

yolos, I put it down at the same time I planted my SB's last month. The plants should grow on top of the straw as it serves as a mulch keeping the soil cooler and moist.
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Post  yolos 4/3/2013, 10:19 am

You must be getting tired of all these strawberry questions But ---
Then how do you plan to add in compost to fertilize them at the end of the season with the pine straw in the beds. Or do you plan to remove the pine straw, put a trowel of MM in and then put the pine straw back on the beds.
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Post  bnoles 4/3/2013, 1:01 pm

yolos wrote:You must be getting tired of all these strawberry questions But ---
Then how do you plan to add in compost to fertilize them at the end of the season with the pine straw in the beds. Or do you plan to remove the pine straw, put a trowel of MM in and then put the pine straw back on the beds.

Naw... I never tire of garden discussions and questions Very Happy

Really have not thought it thru about adding compost, but most likely will remove the pine straw, add compost and then replace with new pine straw to keep things looking clean and new. Also will give opportunity to deal with the baby and mother plants.
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