Since we have had such a good year with our strawberries, I thought I'd share some tips on caring for the plants. My patch is about 4 years old. I started with one flat of plants, which is around 24 plants, I think. My parents surprised me with them. I was so excited and determined to make this start of plants into a field of Strawberries. I now grow three varieties, and my patch is approximately 125 plants. Here are my best tips for growing your Strawberries.
1. Develop Roots
For your first year plants, which is plants you have just planted, focus on root development by pinching off flowers and not letting it bear fruit that year. By doing this the plant will be putting all its energy into its roots. Strong roots mean a strong healthy plant. The better the roots the better the plant will be able to produce and feed fruit next year.
2. Control Runners
Strawberry plants put lots of energy into spreading out and starting new plants. This is great because these little plants can be snipped off the mother plant and planted in rows and you will always have new strawberry plants. But, it is also good to control this energy especially while fruit is growing. I snip off the runners while the plant is producing fruit. Later in the season the plant sends more runners and those I let take root and remove from the mother plant. Or you can decide which plants you are letting put energy into fruit and which ones you will let go crazy making new plants for your patch.
3. More is Better
You will never get more than 1 or 2 quarts from 12 strawberry plants. If you want a yield of six quarts or more you will need at least 100 mature plants (3 years old).
4. Mulching is a Must
Strawberry plants love cool moisture. Mulching helps keep roots cool and moist and it also helps with weed control. I used a wood mulch this year. I found Birds like straw, which causes other problems, so with the wood mulch I was able to keep weeds down better and it was less of a temptation to nesting birds. Make sure you get an untreated, natural mulch. Mulch is sometimes treated with herbicides which are harmful to fruits and vegetables.
I found these tips to be the most helpful and beneficial to my strawberry plants. With lots of work and a little luck you will be enjoying yummy berries!