What is wrong with my strawberries?
I have had Fort Laramie strawberry plants (36) for the past three summers. The first summer I planted them they were healthy and produced berries. At the end of last summer (2nd season), the leaves started to look yellow. This spring they came back looking yellow and several died over the course of the spring and summer. The berries have been fewer and smaller for the most part. I purchased some new plants and they seem to be doing fine. I have given the plants soil acidifier, both added to the soil and liquid fert. I put compost on them this spring. They are in a raised bed (an old cistern) with a homemade bark mulch. The soil is from the area I assume - it was there when I came here, growing sage and weeds. I don't know the pH of the soil, but soil here tends to be alkaline. Live in Norhteast MT - summers pretty hot and dry, with wind frequent on the plains. I try to keep them watered, the soil seems to drain well - maybe a bit on the sandy side. I'm concerned that I will lose more of them this winter, as several of them don't look very vigorous. They get all day sun and I put a heavy straw mulch on them for the winter.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
There may be a few reasons for lack of berries, watering issues: the plants take most of the water from the first few inches of soil, it dries the most quickly so frequent watering is important.
To much Nitrogen in the soil from over fertilizing. Adding Phosphorous with something like Bone Meal fertilizer will help.
Strawberries are aging and need to be replaced with younger production plants.
Strawberries that are planted to tightly together can also produce less.
Here are some links with more information.