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Ask a Gardener: Want healthy strawberry plants in 2017? Run a lawn mower over them now

Want healthy strawberry plants next season? Run a lawn mower over them. Seems a little radical, but don’t worry – all the important stuff is underground. Next apply a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer or a good compost and make sure to water them, whether it rains or not.
Want healthy strawberry plants next season? Run a lawn mower over them. Seems a little radical, but don’t worry – all the important stuff is underground. Next apply a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer or a good compost and make sure to water them, whether it rains or not. pdwyer@bellinghamherald.com

Question: My strawberries grew well this year, but now I need to know what to do to assure healthy plants and a good crop next year. Any suggestions?

Answer: You’re right on the money for the timing of this question. Here’s a good way to prepare your strawberry plants for winter and health next year.

When they’re finished bearing and fall’s cooler weather has arrived, run a lawn mower over them. Seems a little radical, but don’t worry – all the important stuff is underground. Use a collector or be prepared to rake up all the scrap.

The next step is to apply a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer or a good compost. Be generous; your plants will love it. Then, whether it’s raining or not, water them well. Your plants will appreciate the care and, with luck, will reward you with a bountiful harvest next summer.

Put your gardens to bed

It’s getting to be that time. Whether you welcome the change in temperatures and light or not is immaterial. It will come. So gardeners, welcome with open arms a few months of respite.

I’m sure many Whatcom gardeners are hard at work clipping, raking and pulling, in their efforts to put the gardens to bed. Weeds pulled now mean fewer spring weeds. And who wants to prune in the dead of winter? Now’s a much more accommodating time of year to snip and prune.

As soon as the rains start, I move plants. It’s a yearly ritual. Things get too big, things don’t look right where are or a plant doesn’t seem to be thriving in its present location. Now’s also a good time to divide plants.

And at night, you can collect all the notes and informational clippings you’ve amassed and begin making some sense of them. Seeds to order, plants to locate and buy – you get the gist. And don’t forget to get some spring-blooming bulbs in the ground in the next month. They’re so cheerful after the months of winter.

Thanks to all of you who sent in questions. I hope I can help make gardening a little less vexing and a little more fun. It’s also good exercise for both the body and the mind.

Kathleen Bander of Bellingham is a lifelong gardener. For more gardening information online, go to whatcom.wsu.edu/ch/mg.html.

GARDENING EVENTS

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