Strawberry troubles

With the potager’s interior borders finally cleaned, it was time to turn my attention to the beds proper, and the first bed that screamed “Help ME!” was this strawberry bed.  brown strawberry bed  These “Honeonye” plants were moved from my friend Chris’s farm when they were spreading between the concrete slabs of her patio four years ago.  They produced well two years in the potager, and I had planned to move their usually abundant runners last year to form a new bed.  Surprisingly, there were no runners!  There were few berries, but I had chalked that up to a late frost that was harder than I expected, and maybe one layer of frost protection just hadn’t been enough to protect the blooms.

Looking back, a protective layer of straw or other mulch would have been a good idea, although I’ve never done it before and still had good plant survival.  However, we haven’t had a winter so cold with no protective layer of snow before (at least since I’ve lived here…over 25 years now.)  Hindsight….and I was feeling guilty….until I looked at this bed, which is “Seascape.”  Granted they are a year younger, but I doubt that it would make that much difference.  The beds are side by side, and have been treated the same in terms of watering, fertilizing, etc.

seascape strawberry bed  Regardless, the plants themselves in the “brown” bed lift up without resistance, and inspections shows that the roots are black, rotting and dead.  I won’t put them in the compost bin, just in case their demise was due to disease (although there were no apparent signs on the leaves last season) and not the winter or old age.  I also checked for tunnels below the soil to see if voles had pushed them up, but wouldn’t they have eaten the roots?  No tunnels were found.

Interestingly, I went to my mother’s yesterday to take her pea fencing and pea seed.  We planted 4 double rows of peas in her raised beds.  As I worked, I noticed that her strawberry bed is also completely brown.  Her bed is from runners from my beds three years ago.  I pulled up a plant without any resistance, finding its roots also black and rotted.

So, next stop, the Indiana Berry Farm website to order new strawberry plants!  So many varieties!  Which to choose?  That’s certainly a good way to spend a rainy morning tomorrow….and maybe while I’m there, I should look at rhubarb, just in case?


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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18 Responses to Strawberry troubles

  1. I grew nice strawberries for a couple of years until the chipmunks and squirrels helped themselves to the fruits. After a couple of years of that, I decided I preferred to garden for my enjoyment and not theirs. Rhubarb, red and black raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries I can do. 🙂 Good luck with your new plants.


    • carolee says:

      I put bird netting teepees over my strawberry beds, but more for raccoons and robins than squirrels. Strawberries are good eating, so no wonder everybody out there wants some, including the wildlife.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. chickenmomma says:

    It has indeed been a hard winter here in the northeast. Several plants I planted with such hope last year did not survive this winter. Among those are delphiniums, penstemon, lovage, thyme. Oh well. I have had Seascape strawberries which survived well for several years. This spring, all but one survived the winter. Yet, we gardeners forever try and try again. I ordered 25 new everbearer strawberry plants, I think they are Tribute or Tristar. They will arrive next week and on will the planting go!


    • carolee says:

      Indeed, we gardeners rarely give up. Sorry to hear you’ve had plant losses also. We keep hearing about winter storms in the Northeast…guess that’s YOU!


  3. sarahinwales says:

    “Black root rot is a common fungal disease in Utah…” was the first line that came up when I asked Mr Google about this. I’m not sure exactly where you garden, but it sounds as though this could be the problem?


  4. bcparkison says:

    Questions? Questions? are always coming from the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Island Time says:

    Oh too bad! I wonder if the plants were heaved uo by the frost? But then the still geren ones


  6. Island Time says:

    Woops,. The still green ones have not been affected, so probably not the problem. That black fungus in Utah thought sounds more likely…..good luck! That harsh cold without protective layer of snow is really hard on plants, isn’t it?


  7. We used to grow strawberries and covered them with pine straw during the winters with good results. Later years, I phased out many plants in favor of an herb garden with roses. Still is!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Must have been the winter. I didn’t think it was the worst winter ever, and I just live across the border in Ohio. What I did find though is that it was a winter with much freezing and thawing, snowing, then raining. I found many of my perennials had been heaved up out of the ground, and I’d never really had that problem before.


    • carolee says:

      Yes, we had lots of heaving, too. Today, I discovered that nearly all of my heucheras are not returning….rotted in the exceedingly heavy rains, I suppose. Very sad.


  9. Yes, rhubarb! Do it! So delicious, so good with strawberries!

    Liked by 1 person

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