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Overwintering Strawberry Plants

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I planted my mom & dad a little container garden in Rubbermaid totes this spring, including a strawberry plant that is very healthy (Hurray!) We're hoping to help it survive the winter. I live in zone 6a. My thought was to dig a hole and stick the whole thing it so as to pretend it's buried but not disturb the roots, mom and dad think that's a little nuts. Any opinions? We could bring it in too if you all think that'd be best, or put it in our garage, although it may get confused there as my dad does occasionally build a nice fire and heat that room up.

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  1. I'm in 6b. I'd suggest if you're gonna dig a hole, you might as well dig a strawberry bed and transplant into it, then when the frosts start coming cover it with a heavy layer of straw. If you do it now there's plenty of time for the plants to root. Otherwise, I'd just bring the tub into an unheated area like a garage. It'll be cold enough for the plants to go through their dormant cycle but protected enough that the roots won't freeze.

    Oh, wait! Your dad heats the garage? Huh. Well, in that case find a well protected place out of the prevailing winds right next to an exterior wall and stack straw bales around the tub. Straw makes good mulch so having a couple/few bales around means it won't go to waste. The main thing you want is to keep the roots from freezing in the tub but allow the plants to go through their cycle. If there's a corner in the garage away from the heat that stays cool to cold when he's got a fire going, that might work.

    5 Replies
    1. re: morwen

      I agree with morwen. I'm in 6A and strawberries in that zone are Very Hardy and the runners are very prolific. I would suggest however, to use salt marsh hay instead of straw which has seeds which will proliferate as well as the strawberries. The hay should be strewn around the plant with only a light covering of the plant itself. (I've had both wild strawberries and the larger varieties for years in my garden without ever covering them...)

      1. re: Gio

        "I would suggest however, to use salt marsh hay instead of straw which has seeds which will proliferate as well as the strawberries."

        Gio, I thought straw had the seed head cut off and thus had no seeds. I'm a beginner and just trying to get my facts straight.

        1. re: Bottomless_Pit

          I also thought that straw did not have the seeds...
          At any rate, thanks! Might just make my dad throw the strawberry plant outside if he heats up the garage. It's not a regular thing, just once a month or so.

          1. re: Bottomless_Pit

            Ideally there are no seeds in straw. Reality in purchased wheat straw is that there will be seeds, perhaps in appalling quantity. There may also be weed seeds although probably less than with hay. Growers of short-straw wheat varieties who do a careful job of combining typically do not bale off the straw. Long-straw wheat varieties are prone to lodging (aka falling over in bad weather) and so leave missed heads. In many areas all wheat straw bales come from long-straw types. Oats produce very short straw that is hard to bale. Rye tends to have long straw but is not grown very much in the United States.

            It has been quite a few years since I have driven a combine while harvesting wheat, but the idea is to have the cutter bar just low enough to catch all the heads while taking in no more straw than absolutely necessary. This requires good concentration as the height of straw varies in a field. Combining lodged wheat is a royal pain and is a big factor in why most hard red winter wheat today uses short-straw varieties.

          2. re: Gio

            I've had far fewer problems with straw as mulch than with hay. My experience is that hay is full of weed seeds and I don't use it at all anymore. Don't know about salt marsh hay, have never seen it being inland and on a mountain top.