Well not quite, we do have to replace them every couple of years.
We get the plants from Norcal Nursery. They are not grown organically and as there is no organic alternative we can use them. We tried organic plants in January but they did not put on enough growth before fruiting in May and June. Planting now allows the crown to grow strong roots ready for cropping next year. The varieties are all clones meaning they come from one original plant. There is too much variation in strawberry seed for us to use them.
The crowns are lifted in January, sorted, boxed up and stored in a freezer until we pick them up in August. We use a woven plastic fabric to control the weeds and keep the fruit away from the soil. This is the third use for the sheets of fabric we planted through this week.
As it is woven we plant then turn on sprinklers. This keeps the plants cool while they are coming back to life and rooting into the soil. Within a couple of days shoots appear. Growth can be quite rapid in the warm soil. Over the winter the plants go dormant bursting back into life in March and beginning to fruit in May.
Typically the plants have a short life in our area but we have managed to keep them productive for several years. This year’s crop was the first in seven years that was disappointing. We still are not sure why. Normally the field is covered in berries in May. These new beds have had two cover crops, chickens, sheep and never grown strawberries before so we have high hopes for next years crop.