Strawberry Maintenance

There are greater demands on the strawberry plant than almost any other plant in the veggie patch. It's not only your and your child's appetite that needs to be satisfied, but many other patch visitors that also seem quite impartial to the juicy red berry.

As a perennial plant that can be productive for up to 5 years, rigourous seasonal maintenance plays a crucial role in keeping your strawberry plants healthy and productive. Here's a run down on the end of season jobs. 

1. Trim back any dead or diseased foliage to promote airflow and reduce the risk of fungal infections; you'll find most this dead foliage hidden beneath the green stuff on top. Also, thin out overcrowded plants to allow for better light penetration and healthier growth. Don't be shy. In fact, be quite tough. 

2. Free up the plant from excess runners.

3. Now select the best runners to tranplant in a new section of the garden. First identify healthy, well-established runners that should have roots emerging from nodes along its length and using sharp scissors or pruning shears, snip the runner from the parent plant. Prepare the new planting site by loosening the soil and incorporating organic matter for improved drainage and fertility. Then, gently plant the runner in the prepared soil, making sure the roots are spread out and covered with soil. Water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and provide ongoing moisture as the transplanted runner establishes itself in its new location.

4. Once the plants have been cleaned up, mulching with pea straw, lucerne hay or sugar cane mulch will help to retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the roots from temperature fluctuations, particularly as we head into winter. 

5. Even though we are heading into a more dormant period for these plants, they will still need deep and consistent watering until winter arrives. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are ideal for delivering water directly to the roots.

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