Venomous_1
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Keeping Strawberry Plants Alive Until Planting

Today I purchased my strawberry plants here in TN. Yes, I know, it's early, but due to agricultural restrictions we cannot import strawberries into TN and if you don't get them early, then you won't get them at all when it comes time to put them in the ground.

My question is how to properly keep them alive and going until I can get them into the ground around mid to end of March?

Also, how about raspberry and blackberry plants?

Thanks...Venom in TN

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applestar
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Are you talking plants as in with leaves in pots or bareroots plants?
I've had terrible luck keeping potted strawberries alive indoors during the winter, so I can't help you there.

Ordinarily, around here (zone 6b also) we plant bareroot strawberry plants after the ground thaws and dries a bit. The traditional pea planting season, which is around mid-March for me. They can take subsequent frosts and snowcovers. If what you have are bareroot plants, I would imagine you could plant them in pots and keep them dormant in unheated but not freezing garage or unheated porch. But that's just a conjecture. I hope someone else with more experience will post a more helpful response. :oops:

Venomous_1
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Yes Applestar, I am referring to bareroot plants. They come 10 per bag, but I don't want to leave them in the bag until mid-March. Tried that last year and not one plant made it.

I obviously did some thing wrong. So I'm looking for what I need to do with them between now and mid-March so they don't all die.

Thanks...Venom in TN

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applestar
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OK, looking back at my notes, last year, I received an order of bareroot strawberries (75 of them :shock: ) on 3/12 and planted them over a 2 week period. I kept them bundled (removed rubber bands) and wrapped in moistened kraft shipping paper inside the original perforated plastic bag. They were kept in my unheated garage in two layers of cardboard boxes. Since they had leaves, I kept the tops exposed during the day but on the floor so the light they were receiving were minimal. On nice days, I dragged the box outside so they had some sun to keep them acclimated to strong light. When the kraft paper started to dry, I watered with compost tea. I based the care on general description for dormant bonsai winter care around the forum -- i.e. keep the roots protected from freezing temp, give light and humidity to the leaves.

If you set up a hoop tunnel where you plan to plant the strawberries, you could plant a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. You might try planting half in pots and trying to keep alive the rest bareroot. Another option might be to subdivide the bundles and "heel them in" like they're fruit trees in a big pot of mulch or potting soil. I believe the key here is to keep them dormant unless you have a place to let them grow without freezing, keep the roots from drying out without waterlogging them to rootrot/fungal problems or freezing, and keep the leaves from drying out or dying from lack of sun (actually the leaves can die but that would require extra effort by the plants to grow new leaves)

If you don't have compost tea, you might try rainbowgardener's cinnamon stick/chamomile tea brew.

JONA878
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It is perfectly possable to cold store straw plants in the dormant period and bring them out for planting at any time up to mid July, they are stored with their roots wrapped in plastic to stop dessication but their leaves uncovoured.
This is so that the season can be greatly extended.
As Star says you can heal them in and protect the roots with some form of mulching and they should be fine for planting in the spring.
Unless of course you have a friendly fruit cold store around your area.
Cold store temp has to be -2c. so a pear store is ideal...too cold for apples.

Jona

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applestar
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Hmm, that sounds like what you might find in the meat bin of your refrigerator.... 8) Won't they need light, JONA? The bareroots I got had some nice fresh leaves. By the end of two weeks, the leaf quality had gone down -- green faded somewhat but not pale since I'd kept them exposed to light. Also, how long would you say they can stay in cold storage in bareroot state?

Pear doesn't freeze when kept at -2ºC?

I have an unstable refrigerator that freezes the veg bin every so often. I had apples in there that had burst. (I cooked them into Apple-Walnut oatmeal so all was not lost, however :wink: )

JONA878
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No worries over the leaves Star. Some of them do dessicate but as soon as the plant gets going it rapidly replaces them with new growth.
No they don't need light.
Normal cold stored plants are lifted and stored as soon as they are fully dormant in the winter. They are then brought out when required up to around July. Its then 60 days from planting to cropping. This gives the grower the chance to get two to three crops off the same area each year. ( Talking mainly protected crops here as this form of planting is very costly).

Pears can indeed be taken down to -2c , in fact that is the temp they are normaly stored at commercially.. Apples suffer breakdown damage if taken below +2/3c.
The bottom of a normal Fridge is about just right for apples and if left closed will also act as a self produced controlled-atmosphere store as well.
The fridge being airtight the apples will rapidly use up the oxygen and generate co2 to make for better storage.

Jona

Venomous_1
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Ya'll lost me. LOL. So should I unpack them and wrap each one in paper or plastic with tops exposed? Is that what your saying? I don't mean to sound so ignorant here, but I really don't know how I should do this.

I've been storing them in the garage where it is cool but not freezing with minimal light. However, they are still in the original bags as I don't really understand what to do yet. HELP! :o

Thanks...Venom in TN

JONA878
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Sorry about all the ramblings........
Unless you can cold store them then the best thing to do is plant them in a large container so the roots don't dry out and move them to their final growing place as soon as the ground is ready to take them.
Don't worry too much about the tops. They will grow away with fresh growth in the spring.
The main thing is not to let the roots dry out.

Jona

Venomous_1
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Thanks!!!

Just wanted to say thanks to applestar and JONA. I took your advice and planted each plant in small individual pots, kept them in the garage and kept roots moist. Since I'm only a few weeks away from putting in the ground now I brought them in and put them under the lights and started giving them some warmth. Been just 2 days now and already 4 of the 20 are sprouting some green growth. WOW! Thank you so much for the great advice. Can't wait to taste those fresh strawberries!!!

Venom in TN

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hendi_alex
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A couple of years ago I left two bundles in the veggie crisper in the frig for at least a month, in their original wrappers and all. IMO the wrappers should have holes for air so that rot doesn't become a problem. Also, WRT planting, they should be able to go into the ground as early as the ground can be worked. The cold is definitely not going to hurt the plants, though you may want to mulch around them for added protection.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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tn_veggie_gardner
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Venom: No worries. =) My strawberry bed (about 8 plants) overwintered fine in our zone! Just this past weekend, I took about 2 hours to deweed (I HATE CRABGRASS!) the area I'm using for my fruit garden (and flower) bed this year. I was easily able to deweed around the strawerries and noticed that not a single one died. Also, my container strawberries did fine too. They actually have new growth on them. I think you'd be fine planting them right now, IMO, if you really wanted to.

- Steve

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