26) Strawberry runners: use flower pots and bulb planter

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 In this tip:

  • A)# Growing a runner in a flower pot
  • B)# Big grown runners in flower pots
  • C)# Planting out (bottomless flower pot with cut side wall)
  • D)# Planting out (general)
  • E)# Strawberry plants at August 17
  • F)# Winter and spring
  • G)# Strawberry plants and harvest next year
  • H)# Which runners to be used
  • I) Storage of flower pots
  • J) Strawberry growing tips on the internet
  • K)# Wikihow

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In this tip I describe how to “plant” strawberry runners in bottomless plastic flowerpots. They grow into big strawberry plants with large root balls.

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Many gardners let strawberry runners grow in small flower pots. When the strawberry children have roots in the soil, the horizontal stem of the runner is cut. After some weeks the small strawberry plants are taken out of the pots and planted in the garden.

I use a bulb planter to put empty flower pots in the soil. In each pot I cut a small slot to lead the horizontal stem between mother plant and runner.  This prevents the offshoot from slipping out of the pot.

After putting the runners on the pots, water the mother plants and runners for many weeks so runners will grow fast.

I tested three kinds of flower pots:

  1. Flower pot without bottom part and closed side wall
  2. Flower pot without bottom part and cut side wall
  3. Flower pot with bottom part

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A)# Growing a runner in a flower pot

On this photo you see an offshoot that is big enough to have the roots growing in the soil. There are no roots at the runner (yet). The next offshoot is already visible.

Always use the first offshoot, counted from the mother plant. Use sharp scissors to cut away the next runner.

Lay the plant aside. Use a bulb planter to make a round hole in the soil.  You can choose the depth or the diameter of the hole. Open the bulb planter and turn or wiggle it in the earth to make a wider hole. Hole diameter 4 inch, depth 6 inch.

Take the bulb planter out of the soil (in closed position). In the soil there is a round hole to put a flower pot in. The earth is still in the bulb planter.

You can put various flower pots in the hole in the soil.

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A1) Flower pot without bottom part and closed side wall

One can use this type of flower pot. Diameter is about 4 inch (top). The bottom part of the pot has been cut away. After that a slot has been cut in the upper edge. The slot is used to lead the horizontal stem between runner and mother plant. So the runner is more or less fixed in the flowerpot.

Below you’ll find a description using this type of flower pot.

Put the flower pot in the hole in the soil. Turn the slot in the flower pot towards the mother plant.

Next step is filling the flower pot with garden soil and manure (or compost). The runner needs manure or compost to grow big.

You can put (in turn) little scoops of garden soil and manure in the flower pot until the pot is full. Much work. Not handy.

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The following procedure works very well:

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Shake the bulb planter to drop the garden soil in a tray or a bucket.

You better use a square or rectangular tray or a bucket with spout. Later on you have to put the garden soil in the flower pot again and that goes well when using such a tray or bucket.

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Add a few spoons of fine-grained, dry manure to the garden soil and mix (stirr with a spoon and/or shake the tray).

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Then put the mixture of soil and manure in the flower pot (in the garden soil) until full.

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Press on the mixture in the flower pot. Because loose soil in the flower pot easily dries out. The strawberry plant (runner) does not grow well in dry soil.

This pressing goes well with the down side of the bulb planter. In this way the soil is pressed firmly, but not too much.

After the first pressing, the flowerpot will not be full anymore. Then put some more mixture or garden soil in the pot. And press on the soil again.

Bend the strip above the slot and lay the strawberry runner through this slot. Lay the runner on the earth in the flower pot. When needed turn the flower pot to have the plant right in the middle of the pot. Water the plant in the flower pot.

Remarks:

  • When the strawberry runner doesn’t have any roots, lay the plant on the earth in the pot. Do not “dig in” the plant. Do not strew earth on the plant.
  • When the plant has some small roots, fill the flower pot with garden soil and manure or compost. Make a small hole in this soil. Put the roots of the plant in this hole and carefully strew some earth around and on the roots.

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A2) Flower pot without bottom part and cut side wall

One can also use a flower pot with removed bottom part and cut side wall.

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On this photo at the right, you  see a flower pot without bottom part and with cut side wall. The slot is opposite to the cut. Left on the photo the is an “uncut” flower pot.

Below a description how to use such a pot.

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Use a bulb planter to make a round hole in the soil. This hole may be smaller than the size of flower pot. Then press an uncut flower pot in the hole until the upper edge touches the garden soil. In this way you can make the hole some larger and wider.

When needed, use the bulb planter to enlarge the hole in the soil (first take out the uncut pot).

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Take out the uncut flower pot.

Put a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall in the hole until the edge of the pot touches the soil. Put the pot in such a way that the slot is towards the mother plant. On this photo you can clearly see a small overlap of the cut sides and the slot.

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Then put in a mixture of garden soil and manure or compost. Lay the runner on. Water the runner and the mixture in the pot.

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A3) Flower pot with bottom part

In another test I used a flower pot with bottom part. All roots of the plant grow in the pot. The plant must get all nutrients from the soil in the pot. See photo below.

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After putting the runners on the pots, water the mother plants and runners for many weeks so runners will grow fast.

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B)# Big grown runners in flower pots

In July or August (mid to late summer), my strawberry runners are big enough to plant out. Below you’ll see photos of big plants in various flower pots.

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B1) Flower pots without bottom part and closed side wall

A photo of a big runner in a flower pot.

…… the side of the flower pot has been cut and the runner has been taken out.

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B2) Flower pots without bottom part and cut side wall

Strawberry plant in a flower pot.

On this photo the plant has been taken out of the flower pot.

This flower pot (bottomless and with cut side wall) is very handy when planting the strawberry plant. Further at chapter C)# you can read how to put these plants very easily in the garden soil..

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B3) Flower pot with bottom part

Strawberry plant in a flower pot.

Here the plant has been taken out of the pot.

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B4) Learnings

  • Underneath a flower pot with removed bottom part, there are many roots. A plant with many deep growing roots does not dry up so easy. That is okay when gardening in sandy soil.
  • A cut side wall is easy when taking the big strawberry runner out of the flower pot. You can also cut the side wall of the pot just before planting the big strawberry runner.
  • In a flower pot with bottom part the roots have less space. The roots of these plants are not so deep in the garden soil. So risk of drying up in sandy soil.  It is hard to remove the flower pot from the root ball. Especially when many long roots grow through the holes in the bottom part of the pot.

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A flower pot with removed bottom part or a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall show the best results. The strawberry plant grows with a big deep growing root ball. Cut the side wall just before planting the big runner.

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C)# Planting out (bottomless pot with cut side wall)

Planting out strawberries, grown in bottomless flower pots with cut side, is very easy to do. See description and photos below.

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Dig a deep hole in the soil.

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Put the flower pot with plant in the hole. Use your hands to shove garden earth below and around the flower pot with root ball. Take care that the top of the root ball (the soil in the pot) is at about the same level as the garden soil. And fill the space around the flowerpot with garden earth.

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Pull the flower pot slowly and gentle out of the soil, while the plant remains in the garden soil. This goes rather easy because the flower pot is an “edge”, loose in the soil.

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Press on the soil around the strawberry plant. Take care that the plant is at the right depth in the soil. The upper side of the root ball (top of the soil that was in the flower pot) mus ba at the same level as the garden level. When needed, push the plant some lower or higher, or shove or remove some garden earth.

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D)# Planting out (general)

Planting out can be done as follows:

  1. Loosen the soil of the new strawberry bed. Dig up the soil withe a spade. Or use a fork.
  2. Use a string or elastic band to plant out in a straight line.
  3. Again and again make a big hole in the soil using a scoop.
  4. When desired strew some manure or compost in the hole.
  5. Or: Take the plant out of the flower pot (with closed side wall). Hold (with one hand) the plant in the hole at the right position. Shove (with the other hand) garden earth underneath and around the root ball.                                                                                     Or: Put the flower pot (with cut side wall) with the plant in the hole in the soil, at the right level. The carefully pull the flower pot out of the soil. The strawberry plant remains in the garden soil.
  6. Each strawberry plant must be planted in the garden soil just as deep as it was in the soil in the flower pot. So top of the root ball is top of the garden soil.
  7. When all has been planted, water the soil and the strawberry plants.

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On this photo you see a row of strawberry plants.

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E)# Strawberry plants at August 17

August 17.  Runners in my garden. All plants have been grown in bottomless flower pots.

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August 17.  Runners in the garden of a colleague. These plants have been grown “normally”, so not in flower pots.

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F)# Winter and spring

During winter the plants need no coverage. Strawberry plants need freezing cold weather to form flowers and fruits in the next spring.

Only at heavy frost you can put some straw over the plants. Remove the straw when temperature is some higher again.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

In early spring you can put plastic foil with holes is put over the plants. You can use the same construction as the tunnel for bean plants of tip 11.

gaatjesplastic tunnels

When you use tunnels of wire netting against birds (tip 32, chapter A)#), you can lay plastic foil with holes over it.

Keep the foil over the plants in spring. The foil makes the plant grow faster. Flowers appear earlier. The flowers need not to be pollinated by bees or other insects. Each flower turns into a fruit. At least at my species of strawberry plants.  Remove plastic foil at late spring.

Lay straw between the plants on the soil when flowers and first green fruits are there. When needed lift the branches with flowers and fruits and put straw underneath. Due to the straw there will me no (or less) mud on the fruits during rain or heavy showers. Fruits with mud splashes can rot. So straw minimizes rotting of strawberries.

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G)# Strawberry plants and harvest

You can plant big or small “big grown runners” in the garden soil. As a test I put big or smal strawberry plants in the garden soil.

Early spring there were 2 groups of plants; big plants and small ones.

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On this photo small plants at the left, big plants at the right. When you click on the photo it will appear screen wide.

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On this photo small plants with “few” strawberries at the left, big plants with “many” fruits at the right. When you click on the photo it will appear screen wide.

Conclusion

The big “big grown runners” turned into big strawberry plants with many fruits.

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H)# Which runners to be used

To have big strawberry plants next year you must grow big runners. To do this:

  • Take runners from healty mother plants (these are big plants with many fruits).
  • Use first (and when desired second) “runner stem” from these plants.
  • And/or choose the biggest runners growing at the mother plants.
  • Cut away each next runner stems from the mother plant.
  • Use the procedure as described in this post.
  • Plant biggest plants in the garden soil.
  • After taking away the big grown runner plants, you can keep 1 row of mother plants in the garden for one more year. Check if this fits in your crop rotation system.

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I)# Storage of flower pots

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When the bottomless flower pots are not used, you can make a pile of pots on an “uncut” flower pot.

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J)# Strawberry growing tips on the internet

On the internet there are many sites about growing strawberries. For example:

https://bonnieplants.com/growing/growing-strawberries/

http://www.almanac.com/plant/strawberries

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K)# Wikihow

In wikihow, I wrote an article about this.  Click at Wikihow4

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