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Why no strawberries - just leaves?

Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,059
I planted 12 Mara des Bois 3 years ago (first time I've grown strawberries) and they performed well for the last 2 years.
This year, they started off fine, I fed them a scant amount of BFB in early spring and I removed flowers until mid-June - all was fine.
Since then we've had endless cool wet weather and they've been just growing masses of leaves and runners everywhere - there are about 12 plants in the bed.
There are very few strawberries and those that have formed have been slug-munched.
Is it just the weather or have I done something wrong?

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.


  • I tend to grow Strawberries in a 3 year cycle. Plant in year 1 and cut the flowers off...expect no fruit. Harvest from them 2nd year then propagate from runners. Hope to to have a harvest from the original plants in year 3 and grow on the plants from the propagated year 2 plants. Any plants older than 3 years I dump.

    It was a system on old strawberry grower once suggested. It never works exactly to plan but keeps me in fruit once you get going. The weather does cause hiccups though. 

    Variety probably has a bearing too. (Never grow Elsanta!)

    Yours look healthy enough..maybe remove some leaves to let air and light (and heat) in and you may get a late surge.

  • Bee witchedBee witched Scottish BordersPosts: 945
    Hi @Pete.8,

    I also grow Mar des Bois.
    Mine are in large plastic troughs. I bring one of these into the greenhouse early spring for an earlier crop ... and this has largely finished now.

    Each March I tidy up all of the old foliage and tickle a bit of phosphate fertiliser into the top of the soil. Once the plants are flowering I feed every couple of weeks with homemade comfrey liquid.
    We've had a great crop so far ... and still plenty to come. There's enough leaf, but not too much, and a few runners which I'm pleased about as I'll start a couple of new troughs for next year.
    We did have frosts quite late this year (southern Scotland) so had to pick off some flowers with black centres .... but hasn't made too much of a difference to the yield.

    Maybe yours have had more nitrogen than mine?

    Bee x

    Bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey   
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,879
    Yours do appear very crowded. I bought these, another can't remember the name,and Just Add Cream. They have done very well,they were all new plants last year,instead of straw,we have a trough about a metre off the ground,with horticultural grit to keep the slugs off,top frame and netting,hard luck birds! A few years ago,Bob Flowerdue,said Marshmallo were the sweetest strawberries you would ever taste,no taste at all!
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,879
    I meant the Just Add Cream,pink flowers have done well,the other 2 varieties, came from large reputable fruit seller are rubbish
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    They're certainly very congested looking, which will affect their growth and productivity. Strawbs need quite a lot of food as @Bee witched says, and as @Chris-P-Bacon says - they need 'recycled', by taking runners, every few years to keep them productive, but missing a year isn't the end of the world - it's a case of just doing it as well as possible. I think taking all the flowers off was a mistake, unless they were damaged as Bee says, but at least you have plenty of runners for growing on for future years. 
    Picking them before they're ripe helps avoid the slug problem too. I used to just bring them indoors to finish ripening, and picking them a bit early helped avoid the relentless slug attacks. It's harder if they're in the ground because you need something in below them to keep the fruits off it. Like Bee, I mainly grew in containers because that was easier to prevent the slugs getting access. 

    I'm intrigued by the comment about Elsanta though. I find it unbelievably easy and productive, which is why it's a popular commercial variety. It's too easy in fact, and I've given so many away, because I was overrun with them -  and I don't even like strawberries that much.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,059
    Thank you for your helpful replies @Chris-P-Bacon @Bee witched and @Nanny Beach

    I didn't realize there was so much faffing about to grow strawberries - my ignorance I guess.
    When we eventually get a break from the rain, I'll cut off enough leaves to give them breathing space and see if that encourages them to produce some berries.
    I've got masses of runners.
    I recall the idea of burying a small pot with compost in the ground and getting the runner to root into that - is that the best idea or just dig up some rooted runners?

    I read that it's best not to over fertilize them, so they only get a sprinkling of BFB early in the season.
    I kept about 18" between each plant when I put them in and removed runners as they appeared, but there are so many this year there are probably about 100 plants there now :)

    My garden is a slug haven, every singe lettuce I've grown has been eaten this year, runner beans and dwarf French have all suffered badly from slugs and snails too, and the few strawberries that have formed have also been munched by them.
    So I was thinking of investing in a 1.8m Vegtrug to grow strawberries and wrap the legs with copper tape. I can improvise bird-safe cover with the netting I've got already.
    Would that work do you think?

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,059
    Thanks @Fairygirl
    Flowers are removed from the plants early in the season for Mara des Bois strawberries otherwise all you end up with are masses of tiny berries.
    I let one plant do that last year and the berries weren't much larger than a pea.
    Removing the early flowers means you get good size berries a bit later in the season (July-late Sept) - in theory :)

    I tried ripening some indoors last year, but it didn't really work and the berries didn't have much flavour

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    Ah - fair enough @Pete.8. Not one I've grown, but maybe it would worth trying a different variety?
    The runners are quite easy - just peg them down with a bit of wire into a small pot of compost, then remove when rooted, and grow on. If you've got rooted ones, -yes - just separate them from the parent and pot them up. 
    I used to give mine a bit of B,F&B in spring when I tidied them up, and then a couple of feeds of tomato food later on, although sometimes it was only one feed. I think the fact they've become so congested is part of the problem there. Not good for airflow round them too.
    Slugs are part of the permanent landscape here, which is why I grow veg in pots. Not that I grow a lot, but it's much easier. Lettuce is sown indoors and then goes out into a pot once it's big enough. Subsequent sowings tend to get left more. The b*ggers are probably too busy eating everything else.... ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,879
    Yeah, one of my lovely Hostas.salad veg cut,/come again, troughs in the green house. The mara is a repeat, supposedly,that's why we bought them.we have "wild", strawberries we dug up here,in wooded boxes the old man made, sitting on the edge of the pond,they are never watered or fed, because there are fish in the pond. They produce early,very tasty fruit,no runners though.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,059
    The reason I decided on perpetual strawbs @Fairygirl was that they produce over a long season. Last year I had some berries almost every day from late June to mid-Sept. and even had a kilo or more to freeze (but I'm still not sure what to do with them :)).
    If I got lots of berries over a few weeks I'd end up giving most away - and that wasn't in my plan :)
    The flavour and perfume of Mara des Bois is amazing, so I'm determined (up to a point) to persevere with them.

    I did have quite good results growing lettuce in a trough on a concrete bench a few years ago - I'll dig that out and have another go - thanks for the idea

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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