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How do I overwinter strawberries?

Question: Do I need to overwinter strawberries some special way? This summer we pruned them back and rerouted the runners back into the beds. What do we do next?

Answer: To prevent frost from heaving of crowns out of the ground and to protect overwintering flower buds, cover the plants with floating row cover (available through garden catalogs.) Alternatively, cover crowns and aisles with four inches of straw or other organic mulch. Do this after the soil freezes, when the plants are dormant. In early spring pull mulch off plants and into the aisles of your strawberry patch to allow for soil to warm around the plants and encourage rapid fruit maturation while suppressing weeds in the aisles. When berries develop, reapply a thick mulch under foliage and around plants to keep down weeds and to minimize disease by keeping strawberries dry, clean, and off the ground.

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