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small strawberry trouble

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
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by badplanter on July 03, 2006 04:48 PM
Hi. I've been growing strawberries for a few years now, and they have done great. Until now. when a strawberry would ripen and be ready to eat, it would taste very bitter. i know this is not a good thing. They also seem to be over-ripe. That might be my problem. they have been watered right, and i think they have been in the right amount of sun. If anyone knows why this is happeneing, please let me know! [Smile]

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by Deborah L. on July 04, 2006 09:00 AM
Maybe the plants are just old?
My strawberries are going crazy right now.
I pick and eat almost every day.

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by Patty S on July 04, 2006 09:30 AM
I've raised strawberries for more years than I care count, & from what you describe, Badplanter, I think Deborah's guess is right on the money. Most strawberries are at their peak production during the first 3 years... maybe 4, depending on the variety. After that, they might still bear fruit, but the quality drops noticeably. (Are your berries also smaller than they used to be?)

Old plants will still send runners out & you should let them do that, using the babies from those runners to start building new strawberry beds (pots/towers) with. (They'll flower & make nice berries next year.) You might want to thin out your strawberry bed this fall, after the new runners have had a chance to dig in & set down their own roots.

The way to tell if a plant is old (3+ years) is by its roots & the crown. They'll get quite thick & woody after a couple years (the leaves may even be smaller). Toss those out, leaving the more tender crowned plants to go for another couple years.

Since I couldn't bring myself to throw away the old plants that were in the strawberry bed when we moved here 3 years ago, (they were "alive"!) [Roll Eyes] When I thinned the bed out, I put all the old plants in an out-of-the-way spot in the yard, & let them do whatever they wanted! Last year they made berries (not very sweet though), & sent runners out like crazy. This year my daughter built quite a large strawberry area for herself, using all the new plants that had sprung from those old maids... her berries are terrific!

It might sound like a lot of work, but believe me when I say it's well worth the effort & you won't be sorry! This is the last year for the strawberries I've got here, & I'm letting some of them throw runners so I can replace them with the new babies. I want to work it around to where I have a "new" section every year, instead of starting over every 3rd or 4th year, as I did when I first started working with these.

Good luck!  -

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by badplanter on July 04, 2006 11:01 AM
thanks for all your help, yes, the berries ARE smaller than usual.....the info i got really helped alot...i'll do what i can now to bring these berries back to life~!! Be seeing you!

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 -  - "I don't want no more of army life, gee mom, I wanna go, but they won't let me go, gee mom, I wanna go home!" My PB!
by Deborah L. on July 04, 2006 04:22 PM
Wow, Patty, quite a compliment coming from you with all that strawberry know-how ! I was only guessing !
Mine are just in containers, but I guess they like me. They're doing great.
I plan to toss them this fall and just get new ones in the spring. UNLESS they have more years in them, I bought them this spring.
What do you advise?

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by badplanter on July 04, 2006 04:42 PM
well, thanks every1 for posting!! Deborah...i think, if you bought the strawberries this year...that they do have at least a few years left in them. Strawberries usually grow year after year, but, i toss most of mine out because i tear apart my garden and replenish it every year. that seems to work, for me at least. Well, see what the berries look like in the fall, and decide if you wanna keep them or not from there

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 -  - "I don't want no more of army life, gee mom, I wanna go, but they won't let me go, gee mom, I wanna go home!" My PB!
by Deborah L. on July 06, 2006 02:36 PM
Mine are in a pot and are super root bound now.
They need to be watered every day.
But they put out lots of really good berries.
I will either toss 'em or repot in the big 24 inch pot that used to have a lemon tree in it.
All the posts about lettuce make me long for fall to try my very first lettuce !
Not to mention trying AGAIN to grow a decent radish !

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by DeepCreekLake on July 07, 2006 12:02 PM
2nd year is better than first year for most strawberries fruit production wise.
by Patty S on July 07, 2006 08:52 PM
Good gravy Debbie, if your strawberries are doing so well this year, just imagine what they'll do next year when they're at their peak! [shocked]
By all means, let them continue next year!

My strawberry towers & planters are pretty pot bound (new last year), & they're plenty happy this year, so I don't think that being pot bound poses a problem. (It hasn't been a problem for me, anyway... maybe they just have their roots dug in the way they like them!) [dunno] Soil settles & gets washed out of pots & planters with watering, so I've added soil here & there, as needed... being careful not to bury the crowns. (Nutrients are also washed away faster from pots, as opposed to in-ground beds, so using plant food is a must.)

BTW, if you do decide to repot them into a larger container, the best time to move stawberries is September or October in most areas, or before the weather starts cooling way down, so they can use the rest of the season's energy to settle in & get their roots established. (If you don't get around to it until early spring, they'll still be OK, but might not be as productive... might be better off just leaving them alone & building up the soil.)

Some time last winter I'd put a rather long post together about how I made & maintained my strawberry towers, & there were lots of tips in it on cultivation & propagation... but it apparently got deleted, as I can't find it in the archives. I haven't had the time to put another one together, but I've tried to keep up with strawberry questions as they've come up here. Two weeks from now (the end of my summer company busies), things might finally return to "normal" around here, & I'll try to do another "strawberry tower - how to" again.

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