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Q: Strawberry Runners in a Mulched Bed?
Hi, I’m a first year gardener and have a small strawberry patch in the middle of my garden. I planted 6 Quinault everbearing plants. I mulched the patch with colored wood chip mulch to keep the fruit off the ground. The runners have also been coming out above the mulch surface. So far, I’ve been pushing the mulch around to give the runners contact with the soil underneath (those that I’ve allowed. For space reasons I’m trying not to allow more than one or two daughters per plant.) I’m wondering if that is actually necessary or if the daughters will manage to root through the mulch on their own (1″ – 2″ depth)?
I’ve also heard of mulching strawberry beds with plastic sheeting or landscape fabric for total weed blockage. I’m assuming if one used that method it would absolutely be necessary to cut holes for the daughter plants to root?
Answer to: Strawberry Runners in a Mulched Bed?
What you are doing is actually the best approach. Pushing the mulch aside so that the tip of the adventitious root at the node can directly contact the soil will help the plants you want to root do so more effectively and efficiently. The runner plants can root through mulch, and can even root directly into the mulch itself, but those plants don’t have as healthy a root system due to the distance from the soil or the lack of nutrients derived from the mulch. I once had a few strawberry plants that rooted in pressboard! They were sickly and never produced any fruit, however, which is what happens without proper nutrition. Some of the roots of strawberry runners might also root through landscape cloth, but they would also likely be weaker or non-productive due to the diminished access to the nutrients they need to flourish. So, for plants you want to establish, keep pushing aside the mulch so that the daughter plants can establish directly into the dirt. And, if you try the landscape cloth method, be sure to snip holes for direct rooting there as well. And, it is best to snip off unwanted runners completely as they can still establish themselves (albeit more weakly) and draw nutrients away from the plants you want. Or, you could allow them to establish in a small container and transplant them somewhere else. I hope that helps!