Last fall I had a niggle as I watched the lush, green growth of the strawberries yellow in some places and brown in other. I made a cursory search for winterizing strawberries and fall strawberry preparation and did not find what I was looking for, so called it good and lived in ignorant bliss all winter.
This year, as spring sprung and my strawberry plants reached an almost concerning level of denseness while thickly mulched with some of last years dying and crumbling growth, I searched again and still came up with nothing and went back to my bliss and the rest of my to-do list.
Then a few weeks ago I saw a video from Curtis Stone visiting a farmer in New Zealand, who, by the way, fetched 661 lbs. of strawberries off of his 600 first year plants discussing between 3:55 – 6:05, cutting down the current year’s growth to force the plant into new, disease and fungus free growth for next year.
My June Bearing Strawberries are already thickly in bloom, covered in green strawberries and tonight I saw the first blush of pink. Since I cannot do anything else until the end of this year’s growing season, I went back to my research and found that a slightly different search term (cutting back strawberries) yielded the result I was seeking.
This is one of those bad news/good news things.
Bad news: The only thing I can really do between now and the end of season when I can cut back the green growth and make clean beds for next year, pulling out the older plants, making room for newer growth, is hand cleaning some of the decaying leaves, using them for mulch on very different plants so as not to transmit any fungus or disease between cultivars.
Good news: In this case, that persistent niggle is my good news. I am far from an expert and I don’t hold the title Master Gardener, but I am beginning to have a real intuition, a sense of what might need to be researched and considered for my various plants. I do consider myself a pretty good researcher and on this one I missed my target more than once, but I am feeling good that I have an idea of which questions need to be asked and will listen even more closely going forward. Answers, clearly, may vary!