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Strawberries- Dazed and confused

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Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  Zmoore on 4/20/2015, 6:34 pm

Ok.  I planted my 4x4 bed with strawberries this weekend.  Technically there is still a chance of frost between now and first weekend in May, which is when I'm adding tomatoes and such.  Anyway, I digress.  Instructions on packet and some other places I've read say to pinch blooms first year, i.e. No strawberries first year, so plants can develop root system.  In the square foot garden book I have there is no clear indication to do this.  So, pinch blooms first year or not?  In Mel's Mix.  I'm o.k. with removing runners/suckers/baby plants.  Replace every 3-4 years.  plan to do that.  Eventually I hope to get another box for strawberries up and running and be able to transfer baby plants over to that one and then set up an alternating box system, high hopes.  
Anyway, the real point is do I get strawberries this year or not?

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  llama momma on 4/20/2015, 6:47 pm

I pinched the first year and renovated. And someone else will answer you that they didn't pinch!  Anyway I Had a lovely crop from the tabletop the following year.  That winter was horridly cold and windy.  Following Spring the entire table top was dead.  Moral - thank goodness I had previously replanted runners in a ground box and now I'm back up to a box and and 1/2 of strawberries this year, or about 100 plants.  This doesn't even figure in the 50 plants or so I gave away to a neighbor last year.  Strawberries adore Mel's Mix, and for Ohio I'd advise to keep them in ground boxes.
Wink

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  mschaef on 4/20/2015, 8:21 pm

You might get some based on my understanding of strawberries which is... the first year of the plant is so so for berries, second and third years awesome, afterwards they start going downhill. Hope the helps. I think it also depends on the types of berries you have if they are ever bearing or June bearing but I don't know for sure.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  vortex on 4/21/2015, 9:40 am

I've always pinched the first year with strawberries. It sucks since you don't get any berries this year, but you will thank yourself next year when the plants are much stronger and healthier.

Let them put their runners out this year, and work on growing.

I replanted strawberry beds last year (2 4x4 beds) the first part of May. I started out with 1 plant per square and by the end of July each bed had filled in quite nice and thick. Not so much had I not pinched the few flowers that set.

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Kroger Discount Berries

Post  Windmere on 4/21/2015, 4:00 pm

My wife bought two small size pots of strawberries from Kroger at the end of the season (2 yrs ago).  They were 1/2 off because it was turning cold.

Well, we hung them in fall on a shepherds hook and they dangled there all winter till they fell down into some pine straw.  Then last spring, they came back with foliage and berries.  Then, when it got cold, I planted the two of them in a MM box (just 2x1 EarthBox).  They overwintered again.  They were "naturally" pinched back because deer munched on them a few times during winter.

Now... they are getting nice and bushy!  In fall I also put a small viola plant (Johnny Jump Up) between them.  It also got "naturally" pinched back.  Now it's an explosion of color.

I see some nice berries trying to mature... so I'll soon learn how my strawberry experiment worked.

I took this photo about five minutes ago:


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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  Mikesgardn on 4/21/2015, 7:31 pm

You are right, the SFG book does not mention pinching off the blossoms the first year.  I followed the directions that came with my bare roots, so I pinched the blossoms.   The next year, the harvest was great.  But I would like to hear from somebody who did not pinch the blossoms.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  yolos on 4/21/2015, 8:31 pm

I did not pinch the flowers and did not cut off the side shoots.  We have such a long summer here I felt the added growing time would compensate for not pinching.  But, I have nothing to compare my results to so I have no idea if that was the right decision or not.

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Pinching Strawberries

Post  Rahab222 on 4/22/2015, 12:38 am

I pinched my first 5' x 5' box three years ago.  I put another box in the second year and didn't pinch them.  This is the third year for the first box and I would have a really nice crop of berries except for the pill bugs and snails beating me to them.  This is the second year on the second box that I didn't pinch.  I got a few berries the first year, but this year they are much bigger.  Again, the pill bugs and snails are getting these, also, and these are both in raised boxes.  I've always gone 100% organic.  This year I'm not on the strawberries.  I have sprayed both boxes with liquid Sevin and covered them with frost cloth to keep the bees and butterflies away from the Sevin.  I kept them covered for two weeks during a lot of rain in Houston.  I did get some berries that weren't eaten on, but could still see the pill bugs and snails munching on the berries.  So I treated them with Sevin again last weekend, covered them and will wait two more weeks to check them.  If the pill bugs are still eating the berries, I will treat them again.  I also have a third box on the ground that didn't have pill bugs and snails at first, but now they do, also.  I still need to treat them.  Just remember that Sevin does kill your pollinators, so I would cover them if you use this.

I am also going to use Sevin on my tomato plants this year as the stink bug nymphs appear.  They absolutely destroyed the second round of my tomato crop last year because there is no way to keep the adults at bay by picking them off by hand.  If you catch them in the red, nymph stage, Sevin should kill them, but not the adults.

Houston has been having A LOT of rain this spring and I have never seen so many slugs, snails or pill bugs in my life.  The pill bugs came from $100 worth of compost I purchased from the Master Gardener's and used to fertilize all my beds.  It's been a total disaster with my berries, so this year, I've got to deal with the infestation.

Also, ants are everywhere from the rain and it doesn't stay dry long enough to use diatamaceous earth on them, as the soil needs to be dry.  I'm going to get some Amdro and spread around the yard just to get rid of the ants and hopefully some of the other nasty critters this weekend.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  Zmoore on 4/22/2015, 7:29 am

Thank you so much for the input.  I'm going to let mine go this first year and see if I get anything, even if it is a small crop.  If I see any runners develop I'll cut those, but otherwise I'm just going to see what happens.  I'll try to remember to post an update later this summer.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/22/2015, 8:57 am

I never pinched my strawberry plants. I started with two that I picked up on a whim, not planning on on a strawberry bed, now I seem to hundreds. Beware, they may jump out of the box if you're not paying attention. They are running around all over my lawn now. Every year I have to dig those escapees out and give them awa y or mow them down.

. I also cover the bed with pine needles and leaves every fall. The strong ones break through and grow in the spring. That way I don't have to do any thinning. The old ones just die back under the mulch.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/22/2015, 11:44 am

Raahab222,


Why not try Sluggo Plus?  It kills slugs, snails, pillbugs, cutworms, and earwigs.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  sanderson on 4/22/2015, 1:42 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:Raahab222, Why not try Sluggo Plus?  It kills slugs, snails, pillbugs, cutworms, and earwigs.
Love Sluggo Plus!

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Sluggo Plus

Post  Rahab222 on 4/22/2015, 7:14 pm

Yes, I used Sluggo Plus last year.  You can only use a couple of tablespoons for a very large area and you can't use it during the fruiting season; but I did.  I poured it along the sides of the boxes where they seem to like to hide/nest.  It did nothing.  Now I have a BAZILLION pill bugs this year as they seem to have overwintered just fine in my boxes.  Now I'm going the next step up with Sevin.  I think the fact that I do organic gardening only may have let all the bugs multiply QUICKLY.  Houston has been having A LOT of rain.  I have NEVER seen so many slugs, snails, pill bugs, etc. in my life.  I even killed a 14 inch copperhead under a fence picket I use on my potato boxes last week.  I am instinctively killing every bug that crosses my path and the nymphs for the stink bugs/leaf hoppers aren't even here yet.  I have killed a couple of adults that also made it through the winter.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  vortex on 4/22/2015, 7:15 pm

@Zmoore wrote:Thank you so much for the input.  I'm going to let mine go this first year and see if I get anything, even if it is a small crop.  If I see any runners develop I'll cut those, but otherwise I'm just going to see what happens.  I'll try to remember to post an update later this summer.


Why cut the runners, unless you don't want more plants?

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  sanderson on 4/22/2015, 8:42 pm

Rehab, I think most of us on this site are organic gardeners but many use Sluggo Plus. Are you sure it was the S. Plus and not the plain Sluggo? I ask because only the Plus kills sow bugs and earwigs also. Just checking.

Keep cats away from Sevin. Cats are very susceptible to Sevin, pyrethrin, etc. Only Sluggo Plus should be used around cats. Neem after it is dried can be tolerated by cats. I know from experience. Their metabolism is very different from dogs and people.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  Mikesgardn on 4/22/2015, 9:16 pm

@vortex wrote:
@Zmoore wrote:Thank you so much for the input.  I'm going to let mine go this first year and see if I get anything, even if it is a small crop.  If I see any runners develop I'll cut those, but otherwise I'm just going to see what happens.  I'll try to remember to post an update later this summer.


Why cut the runners, unless you don't want more plants?
If you plant 4 bare roots per square foot, you cut the runners.  Some growers use a much less dense spacing and allow the runners to fill in the area in subsequent years.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  vortex on 4/27/2015, 5:36 pm

@Mikesgardn wrote:If you plant 4 bare roots per square foot, you cut the runners.  Some growers use a much less dense spacing and allow the runners to fill in the area in subsequent years.

Interesting. I spaced at 6" apart, and let the runners fill in the first year. Made for a solid mat of strawberries the second year, and this year (since it's early still) a solid patch of nice, white flowers. I don't know why, but I've always let strawberries fill themselves in and have had good success.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  martha on 4/27/2015, 9:38 pm

Me, too, Mike.

In 4 years I went from 40 or 50 plants, to harvesting 13 gallons of strawberries. Year 3 was very impressive, but I didn't think to keep track.

I don't pinch, don't thin, and have had no problems.

And there's no way I'm strong enough to forego berries the first year, even if there aren't many of them.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/28/2015, 11:14 am

Martha,

What was your spacing?  What did you use (5-way compost?) every year in your strawberry bed?  How did you apply it?

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  Mikesgardn on 4/29/2015, 7:43 pm

Here is a picture of my strawberry box.  I planted them in 2012 at 4 plants per square.  Pinched the blossoms the first year, and cut all runners ever since.  I've had 2 years of harvest, and both years had a harvest of 1 pound per square foot.  You will notice that the leftmost half seem to be bushier.  That's because I planted an early variety on the left side.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  sanderson on 4/30/2015, 1:58 pm

Donna asked about applying compost. I'm curious as to how to added compost to a permanent bed. Just apply around the plants without burying the crowns?

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/30/2015, 4:36 pm

I just spread a 5 gal bucket of compost on top of everything in the late fall when the plants are finished and have turned brown or red.  Last fall, after the compost, I also dumped on seaweed.  The strongest ones come through in spring, the others become compost.
Very Happy 
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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/30/2015, 4:58 pm

CC,

I didn't know to do that last fall.  What's the best thing to do now?

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/30/2015, 5:11 pm

Gosh, I don't know, Donna.  My strawberries are like weeds and they will put up with anything I throw at them, even a missed year of compost.  And they will still challenge me by jumping out of the bed.

If it were my bed that I wanted to compost now, I'd probably lightly sprinkle the compost all over them and then water it in.

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Re: Strawberries- Dazed and confused

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/30/2015, 7:56 pm

Thanks, CC!

When trying to inventory my composts in the garage, I came across two black trashbags that contained something-or-other, part solids, and part liquid.  I dumped the solids into the compost pile, added water to the liquid, and used it as compost tea in my strawberry bed--or at least as much of it as I could.

The first year's crop (2013) was fairly good (no pinching).  I didn't fertilize in the fall, and last year's production was minimal, with very small berries.

I did cut mine back earlier this spring, leaving the dead leaves behind as mulch and future compost.  

I expect to put your suggestion to the test.  Thanks again!

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