Fresh strawberries (Fragaria spp.) are the red jewels of the summer garden, producing sweet, juicy berries on low-growing leafy plants. Strawberries grow as perennials in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, but they only reliably produce fruit for two to three years. Fortunately, some strawberry varieties send out runners, which set down their own roots and grow into new productive plants. Growing these in a matted row provides an ongoing supply of fresh plants, but you must renovate, move and replant the strawberries after the summer harvest.
1 Pull out any nonproductive strawberry plants or plants that are more than three years old and dispose of them. If the plant is attached to a younger plant with a runner stem, cut through the stem close to the crown of the plant. Leave the younger plant in place and dispose of the older plant.
2 Measure the distance between the remaining younger plants. Remove any that are spaced closer than six to eight inches or those that are growing between the plant rows. Dig around the perimeter of the plant with a trowel, then slide the trowel beneath the roots and lift the plant carefully out of the ground.
3 Replant the dug-up plants into bare areas of the bed. Dig a planting hole to the same depth as the root system. Set the plant in the hole so the crown, which is where the stems emerge from the root system, sits just above the soil surface. Fill in the hole and firm the soil gently over the roots.
4 Sprinkle 1 ½ pounds of 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer beside every 50-foot strawberry row. Scratch the fertilizer into the soil with a handheld cultivating fork.
5 Water the strawberry bed immediately after replanting to settle the soil around the roots and to dissolve the fertilizer into the ground. Provide enough to moisten the soil to a 6-inch depth. Spread two inches of straw mulch over the bed to conserve moisture, minimize weeds, and protect the strawberries from temperature fluctuations.
Items you will need
- Measuring tape
- 10-10-10 fertilizer
- Straw mulch
- Not all strawberry varieties produce runners, which necessitates purchasing new plants when it's time to replace the old ones. June-bearing varieties typically produce runners, while everbearing and day-neutral varieties are usually replaced by newly purchased plants.
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