As winter approaches, it’s time to start thinking about how to winterize your strawberries. One way is to winterize strawberries in a raised bed. Today we’ll give you instructions and 5 tips to make the process easier. Have fun with your gardening!
The most important facts in a nutshell
Strawberries are very popular. Per capita, we eat an average of 3 kg of the red fruits a year.
The red fruits were already known in the Stone Age 5,000 years ago, although people then probably did not consume such large quantities as today. How popular strawberries are, you can already see from the fact that there is rarely a garden where they are missing.
Strawberries can also be cultivated well in raised beds. They can be grown as hanging strawberries in raised beds with trellises, or combined with other plants to make the most of the space and increase the yield.
The strawberry – 11 facts about the plants and their use
- Strawberries are called Fragaria in Latin. There are about 20 species, most of which occur in the northern hemisphere.
- Wild strawberries, the forest strawberries, also grow in Europe. They were already cultivated on a large scale in the Middle Ages.
- The well-known monthly strawberries are descended from native forest strawberries. Garden strawberries with large fruits go back to 2 species of wild strawberries, which were accidentally crossed with each other.
- One of the species originated in North America, in the St. Lawrence River area, and the other in southern Chile in South America. First crosses appeared in the 18th century and were eagerly propagated.
- Strawberries are forest fruits. They like slightly acidic soil that resembles forest soil.
- Although the plants do well in partial shade, they produce better yields in full sun. Strawberry plants are perennial and reproduce by runners.
- In the first year after planting, the plants do not yet bear fruit. The highest yield occurs in the second year.
- From the third year, the yield decreases. Then it is time to remove the plants and replace them with young specimens.
- You don’t have to buy new plants for this. You can use the cuttings of the mother plants.
- How long you cultivate the strawberry plants is up to you. However, after the third year, the yield decreases by about 27 percent and becomes slightly lower each year.
- Did you know that strawberries are false fruits? The large red berries are not real fruits. The real fruits are the small yellow seeds, resembling tiny nuts, that sit on the strawberries.
Strawberries in the kitchen
Strawberry season goes, depending on the variety, from May to October. The red fruits not only taste good, but are also very healthy.
They have few calories and are rich in vitamins A, B and C. In strawberries there is a lot of iron and magnesium. They remove excess water from the body and stimulate the metabolism.
They also provide healthy skin and are good for the heart, nerves and blood formation. In folk medicine, strawberries are used to treat constipation, rheumatism of the joints, circulatory disorders and kidney ailments.
The fruit tastes best fresh, but can also be frozen or canned very well. Strawberries can be used to prepare many delicious dishes:
- Jam & jam
- Ice cream
- Yogurt & pudding
You can make a delicious milkshake from strawberries or bake a cake. Many more things are possible.
Overwintering strawberries – a small 5 step guide
Since strawberries originate from northern latitudes, they are in principle hardy and usually survive a normal winter without much difficulty. Only severe and prolonged ground frost can cause them trouble, as strawberries are shallow rooted plants.
If the strawberries are to survive the winter well, preparations must begin in the middle of the growing season. This means the runners with which the plants reproduce.
If you want to use the offshoots as young plants, you must plant them only until late summer, so that they have enough time to form strong roots before winter.
If later in the year you have strong offshoots that you want to grow into young plants, you can put them in a flower pot, overwinter them in a frost-free place and plant them in the spring.
- remove cuttings
This is very important to get strawberries through the winter well. Runners take a lot of energy out of the plants. Once you have set aside enough runners for propagation, it is best to consistently remove all runners. The last pruning is best done in early October.
To remove the runners, use a clean, sharp knife or secateurs and cut the runner close to the plant.
The sharp blade makes for smooth cuts and does not bruise the shoots. This will prevent infection.
- remove leaves
As long as the strawberries grow and bear fruit, it needs the leaves because, after all, they feed the plant through photosynthesis. But at the end of the growing season, in late autumn, they must be removed.
If they were left standing, they would begin to rot and mold, infecting the entire plant.
The heart leaves should never be removed. They are very delicate and should never be injured. As for the booms, use a sharp and clean knife or scissors to remove the leaves.
- fertilizer application
In order for the strawberry plants to gradually reduce their growth, you should apply fertilizer for the last time already in early autumn (September). Liquid fertilizer is not suitable for this purpose. Organic slow-release fertilizer such as compost, cattle or horse manure or compost is best.
Work the fertilizer carefully into the soil, taking care not to damage the roots of the strawberry plants. By working the manure into the soil, you also loosen the soil and ensure good aeration.
- apply a layer of mulch
Apply a layer of mulch a few centimeters thick around the strawberry plants. The mulch protects against frost on the one hand, and prevents the soil from drying out on the other. A number of materials are suitable as mulch, including, for example:
- bark mulch
- dried grass clippings
- wood shavings
Never use the leaves of strawberry plants for mulching. They carry diseases. The mulch should not be directly on the plants so that they can breathe.
How to protect strawberries in raised beds?
Of course, the protective measures mentioned above also apply to strawberries in raised beds. However, there is a special danger with strawberries in raised beds: ground frost.
Raised beds are isolated from the ground. In the event of heavy frost that lasts longer, there is a risk that the soil will freeze through completely. The danger is especially great in raised beds made of metal, because metal is a good conductor and does not provide protection from the cold.
The solution to the problem is basically simple. You need to wrap the raised bed warmly.
Styrofoam sheets are suitable for this. You can get them in any hardware store, because they are used as insulation material.
Cut the plates and attach them to the box of the raised bed with string or tape. You should do this in the fall, before the onset of the first night frosts.
In spring you can remove the plates and use them again the next winter.
Frequently asked questions about wintering strawberries in a raised bed
Which fertilizer is best?
As a final fertilizer application, you can work compost into the soil of the raised bed in the fall. Compost that is not yet completely ripe is best. When it rots, heat is generated. This is like underfloor heating for the strawberry plants and helps them survive the winter.
Should you water strawberries in the winter?
There is no blanket answer to this question. It depends on the current weather conditions. As a rule, it is not necessary to water the plants in winter. However, it may happen that there is no precipitation for a long time. Then it may well be appropriate to water the plants. To do this, choose a frost-free period and water sparingly directly around the plants.
How useful is fleece?
Garden fleece has been used by gardeners for many years. In very severe frost, it brings some protection. However, it must be applied properly. It should not rest directly on the plants, but should be loosely attached so that the air can circulate. If the fleece is too tight, moisture accumulates under it and leads to rot.