Overwintering strawberries – tips for a high-yield harvest
Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits in the world and there are numerous varieties and hybrids that thrive in our local gardens with ease. Most of them are hardy down to -10 degrees and bring healthy, vitamin-rich fruits free of chemicals to the table year after year. However, it is a well-known and undisputed fact in botany and agriculture that the way you overwinter your strawberries affects the yield of the next harvest season.
The year before, these useful plants begin to store energy for new leaves, flower buds and thus also fruit in their so-called heart. So your job as a gardener is to make sure that this energy and its harvesting potential is supported and not wasted. Today we will show you step by step how to properly overwinter your strawberries.
Do you know how to properly overwinter your strawberries?
Overwinter once-bearing strawberries
Most once-bearing strawberry varieties are very productive in their second and third year of life. However, as their name suggests, they only produce fruit once a year.
Once bearing strawberries are further classified into early, mid-early and late varieties.
Depending on the variety and planting time, the harvest can take place between mid-May and the end of July.
Depending on the length of the day, these crops know when to start preparing for their “hibernation”. As soon as the days gradually get shorter around August, the strawberry plants already begin to form the next year’s flower buds in their core.
But in order to find enough energy for this, they first have to get rid of all excess plant parts. This is where the gardener comes in! Within a week of harvesting all of this year’s fruit, you must prune and compost all of the old leaves and offshoot vines on your once-bearing strawberry plants. The middle frog must not be damaged under any circumstances.
Use pruning shears that have been previously disinfected with rubbing alcohol
This task must be completed by the end of July at the latest, as later pruning can affect next year’s harvest season. If you’ve missed the ideal time frame, better leave the papers alone. If necessary, remove and discard only those that are diseased or infected with pests.
If you really want to overwinter your strawberries, then you still have a lot to do after the cut. One last fertilizing and mulching is still to come. More on that in the next paragraphs.
Diseased leaves and offshoots must not remain on the plant or be composted
Young plants from the same planting year are not cut
Everbearing strawberries overwinter
Everbearing strawberries and the monthly strawberries form new flowers again and again from the end of May and bear delicious, juicy fruit several times a year. Many varieties remain active until the first frost and conjure up fruit on the table well into October.
These strawberry varieties are never completely cut back. All you have to do is remove the dead, rotten, diseased or parasitized leaves regularly throughout the year.
These strawberry varieties only need to be cleaned from time to time
Fertilize strawberries in the fall
Both once-bearing and everbearing strawberries must receive their important main fertilization after the last harvest. This nourishes the crops over a longer period of time and improves their resistance to cold, naturally also guaranteeing a high-yield harvest season next year.
You can use a variety of organic fertilizers of your choice, such as B. homemade worm tea, organic berry fertilizer, horn shavings or sheep’s wool pellets.
After incorporating the appropriate amount into the soil around the plants, they should be watered liberally. This is followed by mulching, with which you overwinter your nutrient-supplied strawberries.
Strawberries benefit significantly less from early fertilization
Strawberries overwinter in the garden and raised beds
All strawberry plants growing in open garden beds or raised beds need to be properly mulched after fertilizing. This is the only way they can survive the upcoming frosty winter days.
It is important to use an organic mulch material that not only provides warmth but also allows for good air circulation, even with snow loads. The mulch should not smother the strawberries sleeping underneath.
Farmers most commonly use wheat or rye straw because it’s inexpensive and has all of these benefits. But you can also use other materials such. B. wood wool, sheep’s wool or a DIY mix of straw, fir twigs and crushed autumn leaves.
As soon as winter really starts to set in, i.e. after the first frost, cover the strawberry plants with a good 7-10 cm layer of mulch. Don’t the winter temperatures in your region fall below -10 degrees? Then a thin layer of mulch, only about 3-5 cm, is sufficient. Only remove these after the last frost, when the crops gradually wake up from their hibernation.
Don’t use mulch that rots easily and quickly, such as B. green waste
Strawberries overwinter in hanging baskets and boxes
Mulching alone does not provide sufficient protection against the cold for potted and hanging strawberries. Their roots are simply not covered by enough soil and will freeze to death as soon as temperatures drop below zero.
Crops grown in this way should ideally spend the winter months in a wind-protected garage, basement, barn, garden shed or greenhouse.
If this is not possible, you can also reproduce the natural living conditions in the bed or raised bed. To do this, cover the entire planter of your strawberries with jute, fleece or bubble wrap. Then cover the substrate with an organic mulching material of your choice.
Overwintering strawberries in pots is a little more difficult
Now you know how to properly overwinter your strawberries and ensure a high-yield harvest next year. We hope our tips are helpful to you.
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