Our bare-root strawberry runners have arrived in the nursery! Winter is the best time to get strawberry runners in to have them established and ready to fruit in the summertime, and planting runners is the most economical way to get a strawberry patch started, in containers or in the garden. Propagating strawberries from their runners is actually a form of ‘cloning’, where the runner is genetically identical to the parent plant. Runners grow from ‘stolons’, which are like umbilical cords from the mother plant, sent forth to find more soil and sunlight to grow in. Strawberries grown from seed will take longer to produce fruit.
We have three popular varieties available that fruit very well here in Melbourne: Red Gauntlet, Tioga and Lowanna. This year we also have Alpine strawberry runners fresh from our organic propagation team here at CERES. They produce a small but incredibly sweet fruit, are very hardy and reproduce like crazy! All strawberries will prefer a slightly acidic soil which can be achieved with a good compost.
Make sure you don’t plant your runners too deeply, the crown of the plant should still be above the soil to prevent it rotting. Apply a straw mulch to keep them moist in the summer and to keep the fruit up off the soil away from slugs and snails (they aren’t called ‘straw’ berries for nothing!). Another hot tip for getting lots of berries is to fertilise with diluted worm juice every fortnight in spring and summer. In a year or so your strawberries will start to produce their own runners which you can either leave to take root where they are or snip off and plant elsewhere.