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. 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.
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?