Growing Strawberry Runners
There are several varieties of strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) available and which grow well in WA but the main thing is to ensure that they are Certified Virus Free. In WA that means that they need to be brought in from certified farms in the eastern states but this ensures that our own strawberry growers and gardeners can continue to grow virus free strawberries.
The benefit of growing runners over strawberry plants is simply that they are much more economical and allow you to buy far more to feed the family with. Runners, sometimes called crowns, are just the strawberry plants when they are dormant. Strawberries planted in autumn and winter will begin to produce flowers around September when the weather warms up and then fruit a few weeks later.
Some varieties worth growing:
- Red Gauntlet – A heavy cropping strawberry producing large, bright red fruit.
- Tioga – A vigorous grower that bears lots of sweet, medium sized strawberries through till late autumn.
- Torrey – Produces medium to larger size fruit and is ideal for warmer areas.
WHERE TO GROW
Strawberry runners can be planted directly into well prepared garden beds, or containers and hanging baskets that are filled with premium potting mix. Strawberry pots are fantastic as are hanging strawberry bags which are filled with potting mix and then the strawberries tucked into the holes in the side.
Strawberry runners may look a little lifeless but they soon take off as soon as they are planted and the weather warms up. Whilst preparing the soil (see below), soak the roots of the runners in a weak solution of seaweed extract such as Seasol. Before planting, form long mounds in the garden bed over which the roots of the runners will be placed – make the roots straddle the sides of the mound. Then bring up more soil to cover the roots and then mulch with pea straw. Water with the rest of the seaweed extract.
Keep the soil moist but not too wet. A drip watering system is ideal. Be extra careful with hanging baskets as they can dry out quickly.
Prepare the soil with lots of compost or blended manure and add in some Dynamic Lifter or Blood & Bone Plus. Mulch with pea straw to prevent weeds but it also has the added benefits of keeping the fruit clean and maintaining moisture in the soil. After the plants have started flowering, feed them with a liquid fertiliser for fruit and flowers every two weeks.
Remove old, dead leaves and trim straggly roots from the runners before planting. After the second crop of fruit, it’s possible to encourage a third crop by pruning the plants to 2cm above the crown (where the stems meet the roots).
PESTS & DISEASES
Strawberries are as tasty to snails and slugs as they are to us. Scatter a few snail pellets around the plants, use only those that are deter pets, and don’t put them in piles.
Only purchase runners that are Certified Virus Free and for best results, discard them every three years and then plant a fresh batch.
Keep the fruit off the ground by mulching with pea straw or putting a black plastic layer over the soil and then planting the fruit into that. If the fruit touch the ground, they will begin to rot.
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