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Strawberries in MM: to feed or not to feed? Toplef10Strawberries in MM: to feed or not to feed? 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Strawberries in MM: to feed or not to feed? I22gcj10Strawberries in MM: to feed or not to feed? 14dhcg10

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Strawberries in MM: to feed or not to feed?

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 11/19/2023, 3:58 pm

Hi all,

I'm heading into my first summer with strawberry plants in MM: up until now they've been in pots/troughs on my patio, having a weekly dose of strawberry fertiliser throughout the fruiting season.

With them in the MM, to which I added a goodly amount of the compost that I've had sitting in my winter storage bin since June, I'm wondering whether I should feed them?

Added to this is the fact that they'll be sharing this bed with various veges over the summer, and the bed leans a little away from them so anything I give to them will also be shared with the veges.

So, to feed or not to feed? thinking   I'd be interested to hear what other folks do with their strawberries in MM, whether in a shared bed or dedicated just to them.
thanks
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Post  OhioGardener 11/19/2023, 5:47 pm

They should not need fertilizer if the MM is made of well-balanced compost. They do appreciate a good mulch of compost, though. The only thing I have ever done with mine is add a layer of compost, and then cover that with straw to help retain moisture.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 11/19/2023, 5:55 pm

I don’t feed mine either.  Just take care of my Mel’s Mix as in the book!
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Post  sanderson 11/20/2023, 1:50 pm

They don't need anything more than the Mel's Mix with its 1/3 compost.  You can top dress with more MM and mulch, especially the second year, when you are not quite ready to thin the bed.  One of the blessings, or problems, with strawberries in the beds is that they will multiply by sending out runners and the mother plants forming "pups".   Do stay on top of the number of plants.

The first summer (2021) in their new bed, the runners were welcomed as they filled in the bare areas.  The next summer (2022) I pulled back the mulch and top dressed with more compost as I couldn't mix in the compost.  The runners were prolific, spilling out of the beds, requiring hair cuts a couple of times.  The third summer (2023), I broke my shoulder and couldn't do anything for the plants.  They still thrived on the remaining compost from the prior years.  A couple of weeks ago, I removed all of the plants from the bed to thin them, only to discover the MM had shrunk from 7" to 4".  I mixed in a half inch of MM and lots of new compost, replanted 3 plants per square and gave away all of the viable extra plants through Facebook.

The lesson I learned is to overhaul the bed every other year in my region.

Four containers of plants with a ball of MM attached to the roots.
Strawberries in MM: to feed or not to feed? Strawb15

Overwhelming wall-to-wall plants.
Strawberries in MM: to feed or not to feed? Strawb16

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Post  OhioGardener 11/20/2023, 4:21 pm

sanderson wrote:One of the blessings, or problems, with strawberries in the beds is that they will multiply by sending out runners and the mother plants forming "pups".  

I take advantage of this fact to renew the strawberry bed every year, so that the next year there are all new plants producing fruit. I grow June-bearers, aka Short Day, and they produce for a 3 or 4 week period before they are done for the year. After they have finished producing fruit I cut the feed lines between the mother plant and all of the runner plants. I then pull out the original plants and all but 4 or 5 new runner plants per square foot. Once the bed is cleaned, compost is added and the bed is mulched. The plants then are left to grow through the winter and produce fruit the next year. This both prevents the bed from becoming overcrowded with plants, and from the plants becoming old and non-productive.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 11/20/2023, 4:35 pm

Thanks all for your advice, it'll be interesting to see how good my compost is!!!

Last summer, with the plants in the troughs, I regularly found runners and removed them, but I did miss one or two (noticed during the autumn haircut) so have some double crowns.  The plan is these plants will only be in this bed for one growing season, so hopefully they won't take over too much.  In the dedicated bed next season I'll have to be more careful, clearly.

Thanks to OG for the detail about renewing the bed with daughter plants; I figure two plants per square will be enough in our humid climate so that doesn't look like a good option for me.  I'm happy to have them produce for a couple of years and then renew from the garden centre Smile

Great info from you all about the addition of compost and how to manage that, have tucked that into my files for use next season -- thanks again!

thanks
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Post  sanderson 11/21/2023, 5:07 am

OhioGardener wrote:. . . I cut the feed lines between the mother plant and all of the runner plants. I then pull out the original plants and all but 4 or 5 new runner plants per square foot. Once the bed is cleaned, compost is added and the bed is mulched. The plants then are left to grow through the winter and produce fruit the next year. This both prevents the bed from becoming overcrowded with plants, and from the plants becoming old and non-productive.
This was my original plan for the perennial bed until life got in the way. New plants with the "mothers" removed.

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Post  OhioGardener 11/21/2023, 8:13 am

sanderson wrote:This was my original plan for the perennial bed until life got in the way.  New plants with the "mothers" removed.

I hate when that happens. One year life got in the way of me cleaning up the beds for winter, and the next year I had to do ten times the work to clean up the strawberry bed.

Back in the days when I had in-ground gardens, I had a strawberry patch that was well over 20 years old. Each year I would run the tiller down the main row of the strawberries to till them under, and leave the new shoots in-between the rows. Then I'd put down heavy straw on the tilled rows and allow the new runners into that tilled area. The next year everything was moved back to the original rows. For over 20 years the strawberry rows were moved back and forth with always new plants. BTW, I learned that technique from an ole Amish farmer who plowed the rows with a horse drawn plow.   Life is easier with raised beds for an old man....  Very Happy

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 11/21/2023, 1:44 pm

What an interesting system, OG!!
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Post  Scorpio Rising 11/22/2023, 10:42 pm

This is very interesting and can be adapted to SFG
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Post  plantoid 12/2/2023, 5:43 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
sanderson wrote:One of the blessings, or problems, with strawberries in the beds is that they will multiply by sending out runners and the mother plants forming "pups".  

I take advantage of this fact to renew the strawberry bed every year, so that the next year there are all new plants producing fruit. I grow June-bearers, aka Short Day, and they produce for a 3 or 4 week period before they are done for the year. After they have finished producing fruit I cut the feed lines between the mother plant and all of the runner plants. I then pull out the original plants and all but 4 or 5 new runner plants per square foot. Once the bed is cleaned, compost is added and the bed is mulched. The plants then are left to grow through the winter and produce fruit the next year. This both prevents the bed from becoming overcrowded with plants, and from the plants becoming old and non-productive.
 Here in Great Britain we have strawberry saw fly attacks that eat the roots and subsurface stem.

 So our rule is never  have strawberries in the same area for more than three years running with out a three year break so the sawfly around the root system starves  stops producing off spring & eggs . Same with tubbed plants on tarmac or concrete etc , sow seed or plant runners ,  after the third season tip the contents in to your beds , wash & sterilise the tubs and refill with neat compost & peat ( And vermiculite if you have it ) then put the new runner plants in the tubs .

 Some folk cycle their whole strawberry beds  moving them to new places in crop rotation instead of the mixed ANSFG style growing .
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 12/2/2023, 6:26 pm

Shocked  Sure hope NZ doesn't have those!!  I haven't yet had strawberries (anywhere) for more than 3 years.
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Post  sanderson 12/3/2023, 7:30 pm

Plantoid happy hi

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