Planting Strawberries on a Hillside

planting strawberries on a hillsideQ: Planting Strawberries on a Hill?

On May 1, 2011, Beth asked:

I’d like to replace a grassy slope (~ 6 ft x 20 ft) into a strawberry patch. Are there special considerations for hillside planting?

Answer to: Planting Strawberry Plants on a Hill?

Beth,
Yes, there are several important considerations to factor in prior to beginning your project.  I'll discuss the main ones so that you'll know what you are up against.

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When Should Strawberry Plants Be Mulched?

when should strawberry plants be mulched for winterQ: When Should Strawberry Plants Be Mulched for Winter?

On November 20, 2015, Danny Abbuscome asked:

I have a few raised beds with strawberry plants planted in them.  I got them as potted plants and had a decent crop and got several gallons of strawberries from all my plants combined.  I planted them this spring, instead of last fall like you recommended (I hadn't found this site yet).  I followed all the instructions for renovation and mowed them and limited the runners so they didn't overgrow everything.  It may have been mentioned somewhere else, but when exactly do I mulch the plants for winter?  I seem to get different information on a quick google of mulching strawberries.  Exactly when should strawberry plants be mulched for the winter months?  I don't want to smother them or cause any harm if the plants aren't ready.  I still have some green living-looking leaves on my plants, although most of the big leaves have turned mostly brown and look dead.  Can you give me some advice as to how to go about mulching?  Any help would be much appreciated!

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Overwintering Hydroponic Strawberry Plants

overwintering hydroponic strawberry plantsQ: How to Go About Overwintering Hydroponic Strawberry Plants?

On October 30, 2015, Bradford Nick asked:

I have my strawberries outdoors in hydroponics. Summer has ended and we’ve had several killing frosts, but the seascape strawberries are still growing and flowering. My plan is to keep the strawberries in their hydroponic net pots, and to overwinter these pots with the roots hanging out, in a box of sand in the garage. I have a lot of runners I never trimmed. My question is, next year, will I get better production from the mother plants, or from the runners? Will unrooted runners survive 5 months in cold sand?

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Growing Strawberries in Containers

growing strawberries in containersQ: Problems Growing Strawberries in Containers?

On September 23, 2015, Bob asked:

I have a large container on my patio with strawberry plants in it. This was the 2nd summer for these strawberries. Unfortunately, the plants only put out a handful of strawberries back in early June. I was very disappointed to say the least. I had stopped by a local nursery to pick their brains about the lack of yield I had this summer. The lady there told me that strawberries grown in containers don’t typically produce a lot of fruit compared to those growing in the ground. She also asked me if I had fertilized my strawberry plants last fall before winter set in. I had never heard of doing this. Why would you fertilize a plant that is about to die from the coming cold months? If this is true, when do I fertilize? Now, that the plant is still green and alive, or do I wait for it to curl up and die after winter hits? It should be noted that I leave this container outside on my patio uncovered and exposed to the snow and elements all winter long. It survived fine this way last winter and grew back really nice this past spring, so I really didn’t have to baby it at all to keep it alive. It survived! Also, what fertilizer, if any, do I use for this fall fertilization?

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Fairfax Strawberry Plants

fairfax strawberry plantsMany people have fond memories of eating strawberries as children on the knees of their grandparents or sneaking a few berries as they filled their baskets from the local pick-your-own strawberry farm.  Back during the “good ol' days” the primary way people enjoyed strawberries was by picking them from their own gardens, picking them from a local farm, or buying them from a local farmer who either picked or had his help pick them for market.

Each month I have people write and ask how to find the “old” varieties of strawberries that their grandparents grew.  They testify that the new varieties just don't seem to match their memories of the strawberries they so enjoyed during those bygone days.  The explosive strawberry flavor they remember just can't be matched by the modern strawberries they buy off the shelf; and, they can't even get the same flavor by growing their own strawberries from the commercially available varieties available online or at local nurseries.

Well, I'm happy to be able to let everyone know that old-fashioned is back…

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What Causes Small Strawberries?

small strawberriesQ: Why Are My Strawberries Small?

On July 18, 2015, Michael Johnson asked:

Hi, I was hoping you could help me with a problem I have.  I need to know what causes small strawberries.  I planted my strawberries last year during September, and they put out some greenery before dying back for the winter months.  This spring they came up and looked to be doing pretty well.  They put out flowers on stalks that started to grow, but the size of the fruits that are produced are all tiny.  They are only about half an inch big, give or take a little.

I've done my best to water them, and follow the instructions for what should give a good crop, but I'm still stuck wondering what causes small strawberries after doing everything I can to make them big.  Can you tell me why are my strawberries small instead of big and plump like they are in the store?  Any help would be appreciated! Thank you.

Answer to: What Causes Small Strawberries?

Michael Johnson,
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes small strawberries without being able to visualize your setup and without knowing all that has gone into their care up until this point.  There are a number of things that can cause your strawberries to smaller than the ones you may be used to buying at the store or from farmers markets.  So, let me point out some of the most common causes of small strawberries:

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Growing Strawberries with New Techniques

growing strawberries with new techniques29 percent of the world's strawberries come from one single place: the state of California in the United States.  Almost a third or every succulent red sweet fruit is grown in the vast acres of strawberry plants in the fertile land out west.  A major problem with strawberries, however, is that they succumb to all manner of pests and pathogens.  Diseases are of particular nuisance to farmers.  To eliminate pathogens and fungi that affect strawberries and are almost ubiquitous, strawberry farmers have been sterilizing soil that is subsequently used to grow strawberries for almost half a century.

But, the major fumigants uses are methylated halogens.  Methyl bromide, a particular popular one, was found to be a contributor to ozone depletion and was banned in 2005.  Due to the difficulty in finding alternatives, the strawberry farmers have been able to get waivers to continue using the powerful chemical fumigant.  However, the waivers are set to end altogether in 2016.  So, growing strawberries with new techniques is going to be necessary.  And, there just may be a viable option coming to fruition soon.

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Hydroponic Strawberry Farms Adapting to Water Shortage

hydroponic strawberry farmsWater is often taken for granted…until you don't have enough.  The fertile swath of the United States that is California has been a food-producing machine for decades.  But, all that produce and nuts and fruits needs a hefty quantity water to grow into the juicy and plump table-ready mature products.  And, the rate at which water has been utilized to facilitate the agricultural pursuits of Californian farms and other western farmers has sapped critical reservoirs of water.

Aquifers are drying up.  There era of cheap access to water may be coming to an end for some of the most fertile and farm-friendly climates and locations in the United States.  Because of the necessity of water utilization in farming, farms are looking to beat the drought by developing more water-conscious growing systems.  One such system has been utilized in the Temecula Valley to successfully grow strawberry plants for years now.

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Strawberries on the Verge of Helping Diabetics

strawberries on the verge of helping diabeticsDiabetes can be a particularly pernicious problem.  As virtually all the cells in the human body require glucose to function, and diabetics have biological difficulty getting that sugar to go where it ought (inside the cells to be used), any new development that aids in the amelioration of the symptoms of said condition can be a boon to ailing individuals.  Interestingly enough, strawberries may hold a key to satiate the cravings of hungry insulin-disadvantaged people while keeping their hemoglobin happily hauling hefty amounts of oxygen instead of glucose.

Researchers have identified six volatile compounds in strawberries that mediate the perceived sweetness of strawberries.  What is more interesting, however, is that those compounds show potential to increase the perceived sweetness of foods independent of the quantities of sugar contained therein.  Unlike artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose (Splenda) that have had controversy swirling around their use since their FDA approval, should the six volatile sweetness-enhancers in strawberries be isolated and stabilized, the potential benefits to both the health care fields, dieticians, and even the strawberry industry are quite significant.

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Growing Strawberries in Bangladesh

growing strawberries in bangladeshStrawberries are a small fruit native to the Americas and also found in several other regions of the world.  Bangladesh is not one of them.  However, the Fragaria x ananassa hybrid cross that makes up most of the strawberry cultivation around the world is not breaking through in Khagrachhari just yet.  Two pioneering farmers, Bimal Chandra Chakma and Munmun Chakma, have successfully grown strawberries there for years now.  They used a species called Rabi-3, and have watched as their efforts have quadrupled the size of their plantation.

The pair of farmers initially started with 50 decimals of land, but were able to expand their growing strawberries in Bangladesh to 200 decimals in just three years.  What is also ground-breaking is that the couple has paved the way for other farmers to begin growing strawberries in Bangladesh since their operation has proven to be commercially viable.

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