Runaway strawberries

19:00, Feb 07 2013

Strawberries are possibly the easiest berry to grow yourself. Unlike raspberries, they can be grown in pots and don't need staking or cane management. Unlike blueberries, they produce a crop over a long period, and unlike blackberries, they don't try to fend you off with razor-sharp thorns. Strawberries simply sit and grow and pump out fruit. 

I made a dedicated strawberry patch this year after the plants did poorly in the main vege plot last year. I have a row that used to be overgrown flower garden that's about 1m by 4m that I have weeded and built up with horse poo, autumn leaves, grass clippings, straw and finally a good mulch of shredded tree prunings. As I look out the window, we're getting the first rain in weeks, and the strawberry leaves almost seem to be reaching out into the sky to drink it up. The bird netting is almost too small for the plants, they've become so rambunctious, and trusses of fruit hang over the sides of the bed in various shades of green and red. They're also putting out runners, long red stems that scrape the surface of the mulch, looking for somewhere to put down new roots. 

They say strawberry plants should be replaced every three years, and so I'm using those runners to make new stock for the next season. On each runner, there are wee nodes that form along its length. To make a new plant, I take a pot filled with garden soil and a bit of sand to help drainage, a piece of wire about 20cm long, and peg the strongest looking node of each runner to the soil in the pot. My uncle reckons the best node is usually the second one from the end. In about six weeks, roots will have formed into the pot, and I can cut the new plant loose from its mother plant. This technique can be used with any plant that has runners, like mints. I am still finding new peppermint plants in my herb garden that have come from runners, even though I thought I had pulled the whole lot out and put it in a pot over a year ago. 

How are your strawberries doing? Do you think strawberries are the easiest berry to grow?

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