Mulching Strawberry Plants with Straw for Winter

mulching strawberry plants with straw for winterMulching strawberry plants is a necessary step in the care of perennial strawberry care.  For gardeners using the matted row system to produce strawberries, part of the process of growing strawberries involves strawberry renovation and preparation for overwintering strawberry plants.  In milder temperate climates, minimal mulching is required as strawberries can withstand nominal freezing temperatures without much difficulty.  However, if temperatures drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the crowns will often sustain damage and fail to bloom the following spring.

One of the simplest and most common methods of protecting the strawberry crowns is to use a thick layer of straw mulch to cover and protect the vulnerable crowns during the cold of winter.  It is relative easy to apply and serves several beneficial functions for your plants.

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Overwintering Strawberries

overwintering strawberriesStrawberries are a delightful treat for thousands of home gardeners every year.  The sweet rush of flavor that comes after sampling the distinctive aromatic profile makes for a truly rewarding experience early in the growing season.  Strawberries are one of the first fruits to be harvested in virtually every temperate region of the world, and the life cycle of the strawberry plant is uniquely suited to bearing an early crop.

Usually before spring even arrives, the strawberry plants are coaxed from their long winter’s slumber by rising temperatures and burst forth from dormancy in a fevered rush of vegetative production on their journey to setting a nice harvest of berries for the gardener who lavished care on them.  But, in most areas, winter poses a real threat to the life of the little forbs.

This post will help you successfully overwinter strawberries so that YOU can enjoy that first burst of juicy strawberry fruits each and every spring.

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Nitrogen Deficiency in Strawberry Plants

strawberry plants with yellow leavesNitrogen deficiency in strawberry plants can cause rather significant problems for the longevity and vitality of strawberry patch.  If your soil is low in nitrogen, you can expect consequences.  This post will cover the basics of what to look for to determine whether or not your strawberries lack sufficient nitrogen-containing soil for optimal health and vigor.

What Indicates Nitrogen Deficiency in Strawberries?

In order to confirm nitrogen deficiency in strawberry plants, one ultimately must take a few tissue samples from affected leaflets that are “middle aged.”  The leaflets that must be sampled cannot be the old ones toward the bottom of the plant or the new, bright green ones emerging from the crown.

Once samples are collected, they must be tested for average composition.  The baseline measurement for nitrogen sufficiency is 2.6% to 2.8%.  Should the measured percent composition of nitrogen be below 2.6% for the tested sample, it is very likely that the soil is nitrogen deficient, resulting in less-than-acceptable levels of nitrogen in the foliage tissue of the strawberry plants.

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Why Use Methyl Iodide with Strawberry Plants?

why use methyl iodide with strawberry plantsMention methyl iodide in strawberry-growing circles, and heads will spin (usually with faces already contorting into angry expressions).  Rarely ever is methyl iodide discussed in a gentlemanly fashion.  Tempers often flare, and faces reach critical mass within moments after the phonetic translation transmogrifies into cognition.  Why the reaction?  Why use methyl iodide with strawberry plants?

Well, it all depends on who you are asking.  Ask a commercial strawberry grower, and you will hear about increased yields allowing them to better meet demand.  You’ll hear about safety.  You’ll hear all good things.

Ask a devotee of the organic lifestyle, and you’ll hear about toxic death by ingestion.  You’ll hear about danger.  You will hear about the conspiracy to end health in unsuspecting individuals for the profit of the mega-rich food conglomerates.  You’ll hear all bad things.

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Organic Strawberry Farming in the Philippines

organic strawberry farming in the philippinesAh, controversy is an interesting thing.  When it comes to agriculture, one of the hot-button issues is whether or not organic farming is superior to conventional.  With the advent of full-length documentaries on the topic, many people have become convinced that organic farming is not just better, but that conventional farming is detrimental to health (see films like Food, Inc., King Corn, The Future of Food, and Foodmatters).

Additionally, studies are being done that show some organic-grown produce tests better than conventional, with strawberries being such a crop.  Consequently, it is interesting to learn that the adoption of organic techniques  in different parts of the world is poised to increase yields.  For an interesting read on organic strawberry farming in the Philippines, see this article.

Strawberry Seedlings

strawberry seedlingsMost people who raise strawberries do not start them from seed.  They buy strawberry plants from a local nursery or a mail-order nursery.  They then receive, most often, dormant strawberry crowns that they quickly plant in their prepared beds, water them, and watch as the dormant strawberries spring forth into new life.

However, there are brave souls out there that want to begin the life cycle of their strawberries by germinating strawberry seeds and then coaxing the tiny seedlings to grow until they are ready to transplant.  With all the TLC given to the tiny plants, it would be a shame to make a mortal mistake for them when they are finally sturdy enough to make the transition to the outside.

This post will help you successfully transplant strawberry plants that you have germinated.  It is best to know what TO do and what NOT to do before risking potential damage or death to your fledgling shoots!

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Topsy Turvy Strawberry Planter

topsy turvy strawberry planterWith the number of chemicals, pesticides, and other unnatural residues found on and in our food these days, many people are turning to growing their own edibles. Since there are often significant quality improvements gained from home-growing food, this is often a great thing for both sustainability and the health of the growers (see this link for 10 Reasons You Should Grow Your Own Strawberries).  With the trend being toward more gardening, even those with less space are beginning to venture into the realm of produce production.

One of the challenges of growing food for the freshly-minted green thumb is deciding on space.  Most rural or semi-rural folks simply dig a hole, put seeds or strawberry plants into the hole, and let the plants do their thing.  Even city slickers often will have a usable section of their yard or space to build a raised-bed garden.  Urban dwellers can often find an area for a community garden.  But, particularly for those living in urban areas, space-utilizing tools are often employed to grow food in areas of contained soil.  Usually, pots on a window sill or porch are used.

However, there is a new kid in town: the Topsy Turvy.  There is also the Topsy Turvy Strawberry Planter, which is slightly better suited for strawberries.  This post is a discussion of the pros and cons of growing topsy turvy strawberries.

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How Many Strawberries Do Strawberry Plants Produce?

strawberry productionGardeners often want to know how many strawberry plants they will need to buy (Buy Strawberry Plants) and plant in order to achieve their desired strawberry harvest.  Of course, there are quite a few variables involved with Growing Strawberries, and each Strawberry Variety is slightly different.  However, if conditions are appropriate, soil and water requirements are adequately met, and weed, pests, and pathogens are effectively controlled, a fairly reliable harvest can be expected.

The three types of strawberry plants each produce different expected amounts of fruit.  The following is a brief reference so that the anticipated harvest can be put to good use when it comes in.  Be sure to plant enough plants to reap the rewards you seek!

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Zone 9 Strawberries

zone 9 strawberriesStrawberries are a temperate plant.  They can thrive in the chilly weather in the northern regions of the world and can even thrive at altitude on mountains.  But, everyone loves strawberries, not just folks who happen to live in the optimal agricultural zones for growing the sweet strawberries.  This post is to help the hot and humid gardeners find strawberries for Zone 9 that will perform adequately and allow an ample harvest.

There are three main areas that fall into Zone 9: California, Texas, and Florida.  This simple post will help you choose a good strawberry variety for your area if you are a Zone Niner.  To find out which Zone you are in, see the Zone Map on this Strawberry Planting Guide.

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Life Cycle of Strawberry Plants

life cycle of strawberry plantsStrawberry plants are a wonderful forb.  Their life cycle is much more complicated than the simple appearance of the humble strawberry plant implies.  The growth cycle of strawberry plants spans the entire year and repeats annually.  The life cycle of strawberry plants begins either from seed or from runner plants, and continues until senescence.  This post is an overview of the life of a strawberry plant from germination until withered, brown leaves signify the passage from life unto death.

The Growth Cycle of Strawberry Plants

As with any cyclical scenario, it is difficult to choose a starting point (which came first, the chicken or the egg?).  For the purposes of describing the life cycle of strawberry plants, a dual starting point will be considered as a sprouted strawberry seedling and a new strawberry runner.  While both of these starting points require the existence prior life, a discussion of the origins of life is outside the purview of this article.

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Strawberry Plants Grown in India

strawberry plants grown in indiaStrawberry plants are famously temperate.  They do not grow in extreme heat and have tremendous difficulty growing in regions of the world that do not provide the climatic conditions needed for their happiness.  Both tropical and sub-tropical regions will not provide the environment necessary for growing strawberries that result in a strawberry harvest.

But, we humans are an industrial bunch.  We can fly in planes that go faster than the speed of sound.  We can go to the moon.  Why can’t we grow strawberries in hot areas of the globe?  Well, the industrious people of Bihar, India, have put their technological and industrial skill to work and have successfully grown a crop of commercial strawberries in their sub-tropical region.

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Introducing the Pineberry

introducing the pineberryDuring the cold months of bitter chill and cabin fever of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Green Thumbs everywhere begin to wistfully ponder the coming day when breaking ice gives way to breaking soil.  When it is too cold outside to do much gardening and the only growing things are the icicles on the neighborhood gutters, many anxious gardeners sit down and plan their gardens.  Which fruits and vegetables will be grown?  How much space to allot to the staples and how much to unique, new, or exotic varieties?  What will the layout be?  Should the garden be planted in rows or according to the principles of square foot gardening?

Just thinking about it gets a Green Thumb’s sap flowing!

This year, consider sending out your runners in a new direction.  If you have even a square foot or two of extra space in your fertile soil, consider planting a few pineberry plants.  Pineberries are hybrid strawberries just like the normal strawberries you buy at the store or grow from ordered plants.  The difference can be seen in the photo above.  They are white strawberries with bright red seeds!  And, they get their name from their unique pineapple/strawberry taste: PINEapple + strawBERRY = PINEBERRY.

If you are interested in learning about or growing this unique strawberry variety in your garden this year, you might want to click the following link now…

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Matted Row System

matted row systemThe matted row system of growing strawberries is decades old.  It was developed after the modern Garden Strawberry became the dominant strawberry grown (see the Strawberry Plant reference page for more details).  Growing strawberries in the matted row system has multiple benefits.  Chief among them is increased yields over all but the modern commercial methods.

By using the matted row, gardeners and some commercial growers can take advantage of the unique characteristics of strawberry plants in order to get the most out of their land, out of their effort, and for their taste buds.  This post is an introductory article to the matted row system.

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Southeastern Plasticulture Strawberries

southeastern plasticulture strawberriesThe biggest strawberry producer in the world is the state of California.  But, as dominantly productive as the strawberry growers in that state are, other regions of the United States are quite productive as well.  Florida is also known as a big-time strawberry state.  The standard method used in each of those two states is the typical commercial plasticulture method.

What many people do not know is that North Carolina, and particularly the coastal regions, also has a booming strawberry industry.  And, the methods used in that state are spreading to the surrounding regions.  In the mid-1980s, NC strawberry growers and NC State University partnered to develop a better way to grow strawberries in the state.  The work of this pairing led to slight adaptations of the California and Florida plasticulture practices which resulted in the Southeastern plasticulture method.  Southeastern Plasticulture strawberries can be lucrative venture.  This post is a brief introduction.

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Deformed Strawberries

deformed strawberriesHave you ever seen those hideous, misshaped strawberries?  If so, you might have wondered what causes deformed strawberries to be that way.  Well, Strawberry Plants .org is dedicated to bringing light to all things related to the strawberry plant.  And, unfortunately, deformed strawberries are a fact of life.

Hopefully, with the information contained within this post, you will never have to deal with your own mutant strawberries.  Who wants to eat hideous fruit when nice, red, symmetrical fruit can be had?  But, if you find yourself out in the strawberry bed picking your own deformed strawberries, here is what you need to know:

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Storing Bare-Root Strawberry Plants

How Do You Store Bare-Root Strawberry Plants?

storing bare-root strawberry plantsPeople love their gardens.  Great care and devotion are given to raising fruits and vegetables by thousands of people every single day.  But, what happens if unforeseen circumstances arise?  What if a move is required, for whatever reason?  Well, when it comes to the garden, it gets left behind.  Strawberry growers, however, can take their strawberries with them since they are perennial.  Special storage is required when transporting your strawberry plants from one patch to another.  Here is what you need to know about storing bare-root strawberry plants…

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Strawberry Renovation

strawberry renovationIn order to maximize the production of June-bearing strawberry plants grown in the traditional matted row system, a process called “strawberry renovation” should be undertaken after the strawberries have been harvested.  By beginning strawberry renovation immediately after harvest is complete, multiple strawberry pests are more effectively controlled, other pathogens like leaf spot are contained or eliminated, and more strawberry runners will be formed and established causing the harvest for the next season to be larger.

The entire process of renovating strawberries should be completed by late July in most areas.  It should be noted that most commercial strawberry producers have moved away from traditional matted row production, now use plasticulture, and grow strawberries as annuals instead of perennials.  So, this guide to renovating strawberry plants will most likely be of benefit to home gardeners or small-scale strawberry growers.  Additionally, the traditional methods used during the renovation of strawberry plants are not organic.

With that said, here are the 10 traditional steps used in strawberry renovating:

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Strawberry Plants Per Acre

strawberry plants per acreFor anyone seriously considering starting a commercial strawberry farm, cost calculations are critical.  Most strawberry farms fail due to the farmer’s lack of economic knowledge, not their lack of farming knowledge.  One of the basic questions that must be answered when considering the numbers is how many strawberry plants per acre should be planted.

Generally, a new strawberry farm should start small.  Calculating the number of strawberry plants per acre is much easier and less risky when the farmer doesn’t jump in with both boots.  The first planting for a newbie berry farmer should be around 1/2 acre to 1 acre of planted strawberries.  This allows the budding strawberry business to grow as the farmer learns (without suffering a bankrupting loss if the learning is through the school of hard knocks).

Regardless, this chart will help satisfy the curious or give the prospective commercial grower a place to start:

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Growing Strawberry Plants Commercially

growing strawberry plants commerciallyGrowing strawberry plants can be an income-producing alternative to traditional crop farming.  There are an abundance of pick-your-own strawberry farms scattered across the USA.  Unfortunately, however, numerous farmers each year decide to take the plunge into commercial strawberry growing each year…and go bust.  If you are interested in growing strawberries commercially, you should read entry 0006 in the Strawberry Plants Library before reading further.  Then, with that information as background, continue reading this post to get an idea of the sequential steps involved in growing strawberry plants commercially.

This sequence is followed by most commercial strawberry farmers.  Of course, there is some variation between farms, but this overview will give a general idea of what is involved.

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