A Three Year Pruning and Management System For Growing Strawberries In The Home Garden
strawberries in the home garden is a great way to get your
own supplies for strawberry shortcake. (well, at least the topping half
of those supplies- growing cake is a little past our home
Like all small fruit, growing a great strawberry means paying attention
to a few small details.
Like full sunlight.
Berries really want full sunshine- or at a minimum 6-8 hours
of hot sun a day- to grow a good crop.
adequate water. These fruit are over 95% water and if they don't get
enough, the berries will be small and tough.
matter in the soil. This helps the berries in a wide variety of
ways- from feeding to evening out soil moisture and berries
high-organic level soils will be a sweeter tasting berry because of the
lack of stress these soils create.
fertility. The strawberry is fairly shallowly rooted and providing
adequate nutrition in the form of compost or composted manure is key to
growing large berries.
Strawberry plant just starting to flower.
Plant new shoots
from the nursery into rows- plants approximately 18 inches
apart and the rows 3-feet apart.
Feed and water
them. The mother plants will produce runners after
flowering and fruiting. These runners are your next season's crop of
plants and each will- as they mature- turn into a
Expect to get 3 years (give or
take) from each mother plant before it starts to lose productivity.
Training The Berries- System
problem of course is that strawberries continue to produce runners
- and the runners produce runners and sooner than later, the
patch is a mess of runners and fruiting plants and dead plants. It's a
So. Establish a bed system. One such
system for a small garden is described below.
In year one
the mother plants to send out runners to both sides
of them. This will spread the bed out to approximately 3 feet wide.
crop from the patch and after the crop has been
done, dig up (discard) all the original mother plants. Add compost to
this soil, remove weeds and rake it smooth. Allow (and train) runners
from the outer two rows to colonize the inner row. Dig
up/destroy runners trying to go outside rather than towards the middle.
fruiting harvest, remove the plants from the outer
foot of each side of the row and clean up and compost those beds.
/ train the runners from the middle to colonize the outer rows again.
this way, your bed is constantly renewing itself.
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Longer and Higher Yielding Cycle
Note this can be done on a two or three year cycle as well - fill in
the center of the bed - allow to sit for several years while keeping
the outside clean of all runners. When ready to renew - allow
runners to establish to outside and remove the central row.
moves from one
wide row to smaller thinner rows and you should obtain roughly the same
crop each year from this system.
You get rid of
weeds (always a problem
in strawberry patches) and always have young and vigorous plants
producing berries for you.
If you want to
establish a new bed, simply dig up a few extra rooted runners in the
spring and move them to the new row.
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