I am absolutely a novice fruit and veg gardener, but there is one veg garden task that I do, that makes me feel like a total expert, which is potting up strawberry runners. To be honest though, there’s absolutely no skill to this whatsoever, because strawberries grow like weeds – but there’s something about making new plants (for free!! – well almost… I guess you need to buy compost) that makes me feel I’m getting the hang of this garden thing.
Apparently it’s a good idea to replace your strawberry plants every three years, otherwise the cropping will diminish, so potting up runners is a great way to increase your plant supply so you can replace old plants. Here’s how you do it (and now’s about the time), if you want to have a go.
Runners are long stems that will be growing away from the strawberry plants at this time of year. They have little nodules of preliminary roots along their length. This is what it will look like:
Have a look at your strawberry plants and identify likely looking runners and figure out how many you can pot up, bearing in mind how many strawberry plants you actually want. By the way, strawberry plants they make great gifts for gardening friends (well, the ones without strawberry beds of their own!).
Grab yourself some compost and enough pots, some plastic-covered garden wire and some wire cutters. I usually just use whatever peat-free multi-purpose compost they have at the local DIY place, and pots that I have lying around the place (they need to be at least 4in across at the top). Wash the pots if they are old ones, and cut a piece of wire about 6in long for each pot.
Put the compost in a bucket or trug and add some water to make it nice and moist (this saves you watering later), then fill the pots pretty much to the top. The compost needs to be pretty firmly tamped down:
Take a piece of wire and bend it to create a narrow hoop like this:
Now take your first runner and place it on top of the pot so the roots are in contact with the compost. Push the hoop of wire across the stem that comes from the main plant, close to the root nodules (without damaging them), so that the root nodules are held against the compost:
And that’s it! All you need to do now is wait for the roots to become firmly established, then you can cut off the stem that attaches them to the main plant. Usually I forget to do this until the depths of November, but I don’t think it takes very long at all for them to become fairly well established and you can do it sooner. Then you have lovely new plants to put in your strawberry bed/containers to enjoy next year. It’s such a satisfying feeling!