I think strawberry plants are fairly short lived as it is. I think (this is based on my experience and some reading, so take with a grain of salt please!) that strawberries are mineral accumulators and once they have mined all they can from the soil, they begin to fade a bit; however if grown in a polyculture, with lots of renewed organic matter from leaf fall, added mulch, compost, etc; and with good soil biology, they should be able to continue for longer. But I also believe sending those runners out is a way of helping get the offspring to move to a more mineral-rich place than the parent plant.
My mom had a strawberry patch for many years and never moved it. As the years went on she got less and less berries and they got smaller and smaller too.
This is my 4th year growing strawberries and I have moved them to a new spot. I probably could have (and kind of wish I would have) kept them going in the same spot at least another year, they were still giving me lots of big berries. I don't use any kind of herbicides or anything like that on them though, and they were really starting to get overgrown with weeds. It's difficult, for me anyway, to keep strawberries well weeded. It was more for that reason than anything that I moved them. I pulled up everything I could and then covered the area with black plastic to kill all of the weeds. This spring I tilled in lots of compost and we've been piling all of our lawn clippings onto that spot to keep the weeds down. We'll just let the clippings compost down into the soil. Hopefully by the time this new patch is done, we'll be able to replant in the old area again with the soil rejuvenated.
Most "normal" strawberries are a hybrid of a chilean strawberry and an American one. As a hybrid, they are not able to sustain themselves normally over many years. Experts generally note a pronounced decline in productivity after 3-4 years. And at $12 for 12 starts in February, they're not expensive.
Other strawberries are real natural plants that can continue. Alpine strawberries can continue for many years. Musk strawberries can as well, although I have read or heard that they need two or more varieties to do that. BOth of these are MUCH smaller than what we see, infused with synthetic fertilizer and harvested many weeks before ripe in the grocery store from California:"normal" strawberries.
We have a native strawberry and many do. They are shockingly tiny, and not probably worth it for most people to try to cultivate.
Something no one has mentioned....research this yourself as I'm not quite sure, but I believe a large part of needing moving is that strawberries tend to have nematode problems if kept in the same patch. They also quit producing after about 3 years, but the big reason to move is crop rotation for pest problems. I've set mine up in a raised bed for this very purpose, easier than digging through clay lol.
I opted out of strawberries under trees for that exact reason, as I don't want to potentially disturb the tree roots by replanting. Also, as the tree leafs out and extends its canopy the shading would probably result in little to no quality berries anyway
Blake Wheeler wrote:Also, as the tree leafs out and extends its canopy the shading would probably result in little to no quality berries anyway
You could always plant a more shade tolerant strawberry, like the alpine or woodland strawberries. Those little berries may take longer to pick to get the same amount of strawberries, but they are yummy! They may also not be as susceptible to nematodes or needing to be replanted (I have no idea if they are or aren't! Hopefully someone else here has experience with that.)
This is an interest topic. Here is a recent observation from my experiences.
We have traditionally rejuvenated our strawberries by tilling rows through the bed or by transplanting runners to a new location. Our strawberry patch has been in it's current location for about 5 years. We did see a decline in production, fruit size and plant health around year 3 as usual. Then the deer began to browsed our strawberry plants rather heavily for two years, mostly in early spring.
This year the deer did not browse our strawberries and the plants have rebounded beautifully. They are lush and full of flowers. We did little for the plants other than some weeding and mulching with grass clipping in the seasons of deer damage. Other details and variables might be of influence here, but I think this offers something important to consider for strawberry culture.
I am tempted to experiment in the future by lightly grazing the strawberry patch with small livestock or poultry. In theory the plants would benefit from the natural fertilizer of the animals, cropped foliage would create open space for strawberry runners to root and less energy/time/resources would be spent on moving plants to a new location. It will take some fine tuning, but grazing might be a worthy approach.
Strawberries are heavy feeders of minerals, to replenish the mineral loss I have taken to amending with a side dressing of sea minerals from seaagri, when I side dress I use a mix of compost, composted manure and now I add a cup of seaagri minerals to the mix. This has not only made healthier plants but it keeps them producing longer and I don't anticipate any slowdown at year three since I am replenishing the soils with the minerals. I also have not noticed any of the previous leaf diseases or pests. I also have a test bed growing in straw bales which had a few problems prior to my first application of the seaagri minerals.
I don't think you would have to move the berry beds if you were to side dress on a regular basis to replenish the soil losses caused by the berry plants.
I like to use the leaf color as one of my indicators of soil health.
The grazing of the berry plants is a good idea, it causes the roots to replenish, much like digging them up and transplanting them. We get a huge number of runner babies in the straw bale bed, these will most likely bear their second year. I anticipate having to move this particular bed of berry plants simply because the straw bales deteriorate over a three year period. When this happens I will move the plants to a raised bed filled with one of our mixes and this experiment will start a new set of record keeping.
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