Here is a good picture of runners. The parent plant is on the far left. Following to the right is the 1st new plant, which sent out a runner to make a 2nd new plant, which sent out a runner (lower right, barely visible) that is just forming a leaf and will send roots down in a day or two.
I usually have a fairly large strawberry patch. The last patch I had produced 80 gallons in the 4th year after setting out 75 plants. One problem though, was that all the berries were small, which made a lot of extra work. That was also the year that I accidentally killed the entire patch.
Production from the parent plants will slow after 3 or 4 years. In the past, I would allow the patch to grow unrestricted. After the first 2 or 3 years, it would start getting overcrowded and the berries would start getting smaller. I intend to change my strategy in this new patch and manage it following the guidelines of a gardening book I bought 17 years ago.
I set out 29 plants this spring, and did pinch the blooms because I want it to expand as rapidly as possible to have a larger crop next year. By the fall of 2010 the single row of 25 plants that I set out this year should branch out into a wide row approximately 4 feet wide. I will run my tiller straight down the center taking out the parent plants and then put mulch on top of the freshly tilled soil. This will give me 2 rows approximately 15" wide and the runners will be the new parent plants. The next fall new runners will spread out making a single patch again approximately 6 or 7 feet wide. I will then run the tiller through where I had made 2 rows the previous year resulting in 3 rows. Every year I will be removing the parent plants from the previous year.
This method has several advantages.
It will renew the patch every year.
It makes it easier to pick the berries.
It helps with weed control.
It controls overcrowding which will allow the berries to grow larger
My patch will grow larger every year.
Here is what it looks like now.