Straw­berry beds get a boost from ren­o­va­tion

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - LEE RE­ICH

If you saw my straw­berry bed, you might think I don’t like straw­ber­ries. The leaves have been lopped off, some plants were ripped out of the ground, and those that re­main are par­tially buried in dirt. But I do like straw­ber­ries. I carry out this ren­o­va­tion, as it is called, ev­ery year not long af­ter gath­er­ing the last berries for the sea­son.

The short rest that June-bear­ing straw­berry plants nat­u­rally take af­ter their har­vest sea­son helps them tol­er­ate the more bru­tal as­pects of ren­o­va­tion. (Ren­o­va­tion is not for ever­bear­ing straw­berry va­ri­eties, which bear again in late sum­mer into fall, or day-neu­tral va­ri­eties, which of­fer berries pretty much all sea­son long.) Off with their leaves

Over time, leaf dis­eases from wild straw­ber­ries and re­lated plants can sneak into and build up in a cul­ti­vated straw­berry bed. The first step in ren­o­va­tion, cut­ting off all the plants’ leaves, helps keep such prob­lems in check.

I cut the leaves with a scythe — a su­per­sharp “Euro­pean-style” scythe — and fol­low up with a grass shears. The shears alone work well, es­pe­cially for smaller beds. Healthy, new leaves be­gin to sprout soon af­ter ren­o­va­tion. Away with ex­cess run­ners

Straw­berry plants strew them­selves about by means of run­ners, which are hor­i­zon­tal stems that de­velop daugh­ter plants. Those take root at in­ter­vals along their lengths. Over time, an un­tended bed be­comes so crowded with mother, daugh­ter, grand­daugh­ter, etc. plants that they shade each other and pro­duc­tion suf­fers.

So af­ter clip­ping off the leaves, I thinned out enough plants so that those re­main­ing stood about eight inches apart. I se­lec­tively re­moved the old­est plants, which be­come more sus­cep­ti­ble to win­ter cold and less pro­duc­tive. Mulch

That “dirt” un­der which I said my plants are par­tially buried is com­post, which I laid a half inch or so deep over the whole bed, ex­cept right over the plants. This com­post dress­ing sup­presses weeds, feeds the plants, and keeps the straw­berry crowns, which rise slightly in the soil with age, pro­tected from the el­e­ments.

The “ic­ing” on the cake is a mulch of pine nee­dles on top of the com­post. Equally suit­able would be a mulch of wood shav­ings, straw or any other weed-free, or­ganic ma­te­rial.

A straw­berry bed, af­ter be­ing ren­o­vated, left, and a few weeks later, the bed is ready­ing for next spring’s crop.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.