Gardening

Renew strawberry plants

Strawberry picking is over in our area, but that doesn’t mean all the work is done. Now’s the time to get your strawberry patch in shape for a big harvest next year.

Strawberry plants, if left on their own, will produce good yields and quality fruit for two years or so. With your help, they’ll stay strong for four or five years.

It may seem illogical, but mowing strawberries right after picking is the best thing you can do for them. Mowing removes diseased leaves and reduces harmful insect populations.

Mowing is best done right after harvesting, before too many new leaves begin to grow.  This means in extreme southern Michigan, it must be finished soon, more northern areas have some time yet.

Strawberry plants will grow back stronger after mowing and tilling.

Strawberry plants will grow back stronger after mowing and tilling.

Use a lawn-mower and set it so that the cutting height is about 1 1/2  inches above the crown,  then go at it. Rake out the clippings and dispose of them, then sprinkle a light application of garden fertilizer.

Since strawberry plants produce more berries on the edges of a row, reduce the width of the row to somewhere around 12 to 18 inches. A rototiller works great, but you can hoe them out if necessary.

Through the rest of the season, water the plants during dry periods. And, just like the rest of the garden, weed the area when needed.

Later this season you can put down mulch, but that is a topic for another time.

Bob Dluzen

As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob’s gardening has become an integral part of his life. “It’s the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued,” he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.