Regular readers of this blog (poor misguided souls that you are) will probably be aware that we have a healthy number of strawberry plants which produce a pleasing number of berries from early Spring, through to late summer. I seem to think that at last count we had in the region of around 120 plants which Middle Mudlet thought was more than enough and any more would just be plain greedy.
I, on the other hand, feel that you really can’t have too many strawberry plants!
As autumn starts to seep into the garden, it heralds the start of the strawberry runner catching in Mudville and I have my bag of compost and a whole army of little pots, ready and waiting for this time consuming task. Once caught and established, the runners are disconnected from the parent plant and then spend the winter in the relative comfort of the large greenhouse. Some of the runners have already rooted themselves into the vegetable beds but these will be carefully dug up and popped into pots, to allow easy access for bed maintenance.
So to recap: where strawberry runners are still attached to the parent plant I pop them into a pot full of compost, beside the parent plant until evidence of new growth (which indicates successful rooting) is seen, at which point I cut the connection to the parent plant! That’s how I’ve always handled strawberry runners and it works like a dream.
This year, however, we have had a bit of a problem.
Firstly there were the runners which hadn’t yet rooted and which I disturbed when I sorted out the flower bed a couple of weeks ago. These were hastily planted into the vacant old sink and cistern which we have used as planters for the last 8 years or so but they are taking an absolute age to show signs of actual new growth. That said, they haven’t all wilted away to nothing, so I’m hopeful that under the soil, root systems are forming and the plants will happily over winter where they are, as it is quite sheltered.
Secondly and by far the most pressing problem of all, is the runners which the hanging basket strawberry plants have thrown out in huge numbers this year! There are a dozen of the things per hanging basket and four baskets in total. There are also signs of tiny root systems forming and yet these runners are suspended in mid air!
I hate wasting young plants, thinning out, for example, being one of my least favourite garden jobs, so I have been trying to work out the best way to catch these young plants with minimum losses. Should I just nip them off, plant them up and hope for the best? Or should I take the baskets down and pot the runners up the same way as I would normally do for the plants in the pots and containers?
Obviously the second option is the preferred one but that would potentially require more space than I have available, the baskets being quite large. Ideally, I could use the patio area by the kitchen because there is a large area of concrete there but unfortunately this is currently serving as Muds Land Rover workshop and I don’t think he would take too kindly to finding hanging baskets and a few dozen plant pots encroaching on his work space, acting as trip hazards.
Either way, I will need to sort the problem out soon because another 48 strawberry plants would certainly increase fruit production next year and there are bound to be some winter casualties from existing stock that will need replacing come the spring ….. and you really can’t have too many strawberry plants you know!