Red Wicket Market Farm is a small farm 25 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio, near Slate Run Metropark. Breeding Black Ameraucanas and Black Copper Marans to the Standard of Perfection, as well as some Olive Eggers just for fun.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mowing the Strawberries?!?!?

**IMPORTANT: Only mow June-bearing strawberries, which put forth a very large crop in the spring and then don't bloom again until the next year. If your plants produce berries all year, you have everbearing strawberries. Don't do this to your everbearing strawberries!**

If you haven't done so, it's time to mow the June-bearing strawberries. If you're like me, just the thought of mowing such lovely and giving plants gives you the heebie-jeebies, and I didn't mow mine for several years because I was afraid to do it, even though I'd read that I should. This week I wanted to show you some photos that will hopefully put your mind to rest.

We're a little late mowing the strawberries this year--they should have been mown right after the plants stopped producing in late June, and here it is late July already. I'm not too worried, because this year has been so good for growing things that I'm sure the plants will be fine. This is how my "Sparkle Supreme" and "Earliglow" strawberry beds* looked just three days ago:

The strawberry foliage was so thick I couldn't even see where the rows stopped and started any more. It is time to force those strawberries to put more attention towards making strong roots for winter, and renovate the patch a bit.

This is how a strawberry bed looks after it's been mown. It's enough to scare you to death:

When Mike did this I wanted to cry, even though I'd told him to mow them (he was skeptical). All my beautiful strawberries were gone, and the patch looked dead and gone. I didn't believe that the berries could come back from such a butchering. However, one week later:

They're baaaack! I felt so relieved when I saw this, and I hope that seeing these photos will give you the confidence to mow your own strawberry patch. It will help stop disease and force the plant to make lots of strong roots for winter.

The next steps for these plants are to till the paths again (the berries have filled in, and there's no way to harvest; yes, many plants will be tilled up) and to cover the crowns with an inch or so of fine soil. Strawberries make new plants right on top of the old crowns, so they tend to pull themselves out of the soil a bit each year and re-burying them will help protect them over the winter. We'll also bed them with a nice, thick blanket of straw after the first killing frost.

*Speaking of Earliglow strawberries--yuck. They were early, all right, but they were SO SOUR! I'm planning to till them up this year and plant some everbearing berries in their place (what can I say, I have kids). Does anyone have any recommendations for a hardy everbearing strawberry variety that's good and sweet?