Take your old ones out, put your new ones in, and shake it all about.

I finally got to the last BIG task on my list.  The strawberries.  The sun was shining, I got my inside jobs done early and I was out in that garden so fast, ready and willing to get stuck into a big job.  And it is a big job – I have about 70 or so strawberries that haven’t even so much as been looked at since they stopped giving us a regular supply of yummy sweet berries last summer.   The only attention they really got was being mowed around, so there were no runners sneaking off beyond the edges of the patch.

So I stood at the end of my long bed… thirty footsteps heel to toe in my gumboots, and thought – oh my goodness where do I start.  Then I remembered that you should really chuck out strawberry plants after three years as they don’t do as well in their later years. There was nothing for it but to dig them out.  They had grown quite big and heavy and although I don’t really like waste and throwing out perfectly good things, these did look a bit tired.  The up side was there were loads of new plants formed from the runners and they were strong and healthy and looked fantastic.

So long and thanks for all the strawberries
So long and thanks for all the strawberries

In the first third I dug out 24 old plants and oodles of new plants.  I cleaned up all the new ones and selected the best to go back into the patch.  They looked so little compared to the grand old matriarchs that had just been evicted, and there were so many.  I couldn’t help myself.  I put 28 plants back into the bed.

All fresh and fluffy
All fresh and fluffy

The biggest problem I found with this whole process was my precious dirt.  With each plant I pulled out, along with it came a big clump of my soil.  I can’t really afford to lose dirt as it would drop the level of the bed below the water table.  While this is ok at the moment, because we haven’t had rain in ages, the first descent rain would render my strawberry patch an underwater garden.  So I shook each and every plant within an inch of its life and made it give up my soil and a considerable number of my worms too.   Maybe I should consider turning my patch into a raised bed.

All ready for the spring - bring on the berries - Yummo!
All ready for the spring – bring on the berries – Yummo!

I put the reclaimed soil back into the bed, enriched it with loads of goodies so the plants will reward me with big fat sweet berries, and put the new plants it.  So the patch is back to how it should be – refreshed and weed free and ready for the spring.  Well a third of it is.  I need to get on with the rest as there is rain on the forecast after weeks of none and as much I would welcome the rain as I almost need to get the hose out, I really don’t want to be weeding strawberries in the rain.

Come again soon – it’s nearly Assembly August and I love building things!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

22 thoughts on “Take your old ones out, put your new ones in, and shake it all about.

  1. Fantastic! I have watched you and your to do list avidly over the last few weeks as it is fairly similar to mine and the way I put off the big jobs.You motivated me to get out and actually tackle the bits I’m putting off – you know, item 1,2 and 3 instead of 14, 15 and 16! Just now I have come in from dealing to 2 out of 3 strawberry gardens with a great feeling and saw your post, it’s a great feeling isn’t it and also makes me think spring is nearly here.

    1. Hi Alison. Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad I have encouraged you to get on to your gardening tasks. Gardening in the winter can be hard as the rewards don’t come until later on.
      The nearness of spring has filled the garden with hope and promise and daffodils. I can hardly wait. I love spring.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. Great start. An old organic mentor of mine kept a water bucket, into which he threw any weed or cutting that might be holding on to his precious soil. Things got a pre-rinse and he got his soil back–in the bottom of the rinse bucket.

    1. Hi There. I love the water bucket idea. As our land is flat I can’t just go and get more soil of the side of hill. Once the soil is in the garden it needs to stay there. Next time the weeds won’t let go of my soil, I’ll have a bucket of water with me and make them let go! Thanks for the advice. Cheers Sarah : o )

  3. Bummer, you have to chuck them after 3 years? They only seem to be getting somewhere now. Sigh. We have one more year. And you aren’t kidding, they love to spread. We find them everywhere!

    1. Hi There. The rule of thumb with strawberries seems to be 3 – 4 years. They don’t seem as productive after that as the the crowns get all woody. But the bonus is once you have them you should never need to buy any again.
      I like to just swap out a third at a time so I always have some at point of peak performance giving me the fattest, juiciest, sweetest berries.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  4. They look great! I think there is something therapeutic about smacking and shaking the dirt off of the old plants, especially when you are getting good dirt and worms out of it.

    1. Hi Keith. It is always a good sign to see loads of worms. It means the soil is really good. I love finding worms. I’m not very squeamish for a girl!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi Elaine. The worst thing is seeing how lush the weeds are. Not only are they stealing my soil, they are stealing my nutrients. Luckily they can be tossed on the compost pile and I can get it all back that way. But I’d prefer that they weren’t in my garden in the first place!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  5. Oh I absolutely must do this with my strawberries too, they are dreadfully neglected and I suppose I should do it soon before the winter and the big freeze.. c

    1. Hi Cecilia. I normally begin to neglect my strawberries the minute they stop giving up the goods. Although by then the garden is in full swing producing loads of other goodies left right and centre. It feels good to have them spring ready, although next year maybe I should weed them from time to time instead of ignoring them….
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi Alys. After three or four years they are past their best and so the strawberries start to get a bit manky. The good news is they give you their own replacements so nothing is really lost.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  6. I like the idea of the water bucket to shake the dirt into.
    Can’t waste the precious stuff.

    1. Hi Jean. I like the water bucket idea too. When the soil is damp the weeds cling onto the soil like it has been glued on. I will feel great to reclaim what would normally have been lost.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  7. Hi Sarah, I liked reading about the water bucket idea – nice to learn something new, and great way to save your soil! Do you throw the old plants onto a compost pile? I don’t worry too much about taking the soil when I pull the weeds since I know it is going in the compost and will eventually end up back in the garden. Your strawberry bed looks fantastic! Dana

    1. Hi Dana. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the old strawberries. They’ll probably end up on the compost, but I hate waste and they are only old and not dead, just not as productive. I hope my kids won’t do something similar with me when I’m old!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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