Since strawberries send out runners that create new plants, thinning and/or trimming down your strawberry plants every few years, will help increase yields and reduce the spread of diseases. I did this a couple of years ago for the first time, when I noticed a decline in production. The next year, I got more strawberries than I ever had before. That year I was able to make lots of strawberry jam and it was awesome!
Strawberry beds can be “renewed” by hand trimming and pulling, or mowing with the lawn mower blade set between 2-4 inches high. This should be done after your last strawberry harvest of the season and depends on what type of strawberries you have. I have ever-bearers (strawberry plants that produce several times throughout the Summer), so I do my renewing in the Fall. My strawberries are in a raised bed, and I like to keep it simple, so I use my edge trimmer to mow them down.
This year, the first thing I did was weed the bed. Then, I used my edge trimmer to mow the plants down to about a 2 inch height. If your bed seems overcrowded, you can hand pull some plants as well. I didn’t think the bed seemed too crowded this year, so I didn’t hand pull any this time.
Then I covered the bed with straw mulch to provide winter production for the plants. Another option would have been to add compost and fertilizer before the straw, but this worked so well for me a couple of years ago without it, that I just did it the same way as before.
If my yields still seem a little lackluster next year, I will go the compost and fertilizer route next time and maybe pull a few more plants. I really want lots of strawberries next year though, so I can make jam, so hopefully this well be a success again!