gardener topping strawberry patch with worm castings and compost

Time to Renovate & Amend The Strawberry Patch

by | Mar 14, 2024

Growing in Southern California can be really weird, right? Advice like “wait until your asparagus dies back completely before pruning” can sound really simple—until we realize that many things don’t die back here in zone 10. Off the top of my head I’m remembering things like sweet potatoes, asparagus, and roses! Well, two weekends ago I finally got to renovate and amend my strawberry plants for Spring here in Southern California, and I’m realizing that strawberries can almost grow year-round here. So when is the right time to renovate and amend your strawberries?

Literally, just today, I walked up to a couple strawberry plants I had put in an extra container and there was a big, ripe strawberry! Seriously, growing in my little nook of Orange County can be both weird and special. Ideally, March is probably little late to be renovating and amending strawberries—seeing as how most of my plants had flowers and baby fruits—but it still is important to do these tasks.

Know the Type of Strawberry You are Growing

Before getting started, it can be helpful to know the type of strawberry you are growing. Whether you’re growing ever-bearing or June-bearing strawberries will not change how you choose to renovate or amend your bed, but it will help you know what to expect throughout the season. For example, I have one type of June-bearing strawberry in my garden (the ‘whopper’). For June bearing strawberries, there will only be one main crop of strawberries—approximately in June, but most likely earlier for Southern California or more mild climates. Therefore, I won’t have a panic attack when they stop producing while my other strawberries grow on.

The rest of my strawberries are ever-bearing varieties, which essentially means that they could produce multiple crops a year. Being in Southern California, this is where I notice that the ever-bearing strawberries never seem truly “dormant” and this can make it hard to determine when to renovate and amend strawberry plants. Personally, I say don’t worry too much about it here.

in the garden cleaning up old strawberry plants

Check out the “before” of our whopper strawberry patch. It was so overgrown that I almost missed that there are tons of flowers down in the bed! This was definitely in need of some clean up so the flowers could breathe and get pollinated!

Why do we renovate and amend strawberry plants?

The term “renovate” is used all over gardening and farming websites in reference to the process of cleaning up strawberry beds for the season. Where this comes from, I don’t really know, but I guess it does encompass a lot of the different tasks we will be doing in the strawberry patch. See, we aren’t just pruning or fertilizing. We are essentially doing a full edit or assessment of our strawberry patch. Here are some of the reasons why we renovate and amend strawberries here in Southern California:

Disease prevention-cleaning up around each plant will improve airflow. Many strawberries, especially during the wet season, are prone to mold and diseases like botrytis rot. These spores can also live on the ground around strawberry plants, so doing a good cleanup can keep the plants drier and less susceptible to those types of problems.

Energy/Food- Especially growing in raised beds with a sandier soil mix, a lot of nutrients can be washed out of the garden during the year through watering and rain. Providing your strawberry patch with a boost of organic fertilizer and feeding the soil with compost will encourage healthy roots and growth! More on the specific amendments later on…

Productivity- Did you know that third and fourth year strawberry plants can start to diminish in terms of production? Many gardeners use their renovation time to pull out the oldest strawberry plants and replant rooted runners in their place. Obviously, my strawberry patch is not old enough to give me hands-on experience here, but it’s my understanding that a well-maintained strawberry patch has a good mix of strawberry plants at different ages.

Our Southern California Strawberry Patch

If you’re new here, we cleared, built, and planted two strawberry beds in Spring of last year (2023). Side note, you can plant strawberries in Fall in mild climates to help them get established, but I found availability for bare root plants to be most prolific in Spring anyway. I planted 3 varieties of strawberries: Albion, Pineberries, and Whoppers. Not only can you read all the details about the entire process HERE, but I also made a video update for how the strawberries grew after one season. Of course, the Whoppers are a June-bearing strawberry so we didn’t get any fruit last year.

Overall, I should have done more research on the pineberries (they have been a huge letdown) but Albion is doing amazingly well! I’d recommend Albion to anyone wanting to grow a great ever-bearing strawberry here in Southern California. In fact, I’m thinking of replacing the pineberries with another strawberry more suited to our Orange County, zone 10 climate. What do you think? Any suggestions? Some of the varieties on my radar are sequoia, chandler, eversweet, and san andreas!

When I went to renovate and amend my strawberry patch this year, all of the strawberries were flowering! Furthermore, the Albion strawberries had already started to set baby fruits. Want to see? Check out our video of this process over on YouTube.

side dressing and amending strawberry patch with compost worm castings and fertilizer

Whew! The “after” picture is so refreshing isn’t it?! Here are both of our raised bed strawberry patches all renovated and amended for Spring. I was thankful for Sam’s help getting this done.

How to Renovate a Strawberry Plants in Southern California

Alright, hopefully you’ve caught on that I don’t take the timing of when to renovate strawberry plants too seriously. But, when it’s late Winter or early Spring, here’s how I renovate and amend strawberry plants here in Southern California:

You can also opt to watch our video of this process over on our channel. Check it out!

First, start by clearing out the dead stuff and red/yellowing leaves. If you look closely, you’ll see that the strawberry plants are starting to push out new leaves from the center of the crown. This is new growth that is perfect for the current season. On the other hand, there are so many leaves remaining that are beautiful Fall colors (red, orange, yellow) but these are not going provide energy for fruiting and production this year—-remove them!

Second, remove runners and “edit” your patch. Here’s the thing, strawberry plants won’t produce forever. In fact, most strawberries are said to slow down in production at 3-4 years old. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that runners are technically babies or the “new” strawberry plants that you’ll need when it’s time. You can root strawberry runners yourself if you want to create new plants, or you might find that some have rooted themselves. At this time, I didn’t want to keep any runners because they will simply zap the energy from the mother plants. Maybe next year I’ll root some runners to replenish the strawberry patch.

Third, amend your strawberry patch with some compost and worm castings. If you are growing in pots or raised beds, you could also consider topping with potting soil or raised bed mix. Over the years I have heard amazing things about worm castings and strawberries, so that’s why I am choosing to sprinkle some around the strawberry patch this year.

strawberry plants in winter with lots of runners and foliage that needs to be removed

These are just a fraction of the strawberry runners I had to tackle this year. While there are some varieties that are known to produce less runners, I’m more focused on growing strawberries I enjoy flavor and cooking-wise rather than their runner production. But, runners are something to keep in mind as you go to renovate and amend your strawberry plants.

Feeding & Mulching Strawberries in the Garden

The very last thing I did to renovate and amend the strawberry patch, is to apply an organic berry fertilizer around the plants. Gently scratch it in all around the plants so they have some food to create delicious berries!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of the oak leaf mulch I had used when we originally planted this strawberry patch, so I didn’t mulch right now. Ideally, mulch has many benefits—this is especially true in colder climates where mulch can insulate and protect your strawberry plants from freezes—so it can be applied around your strawberries after this process is finished. In the past I’ve written about some of my favorite ways to use things from around my yard to mulch (get all the mulchy details here), but since our patch is pretty full at the moment and the plants are growing pretty fast, I might even just let them grow in and mulch themselves this time.

While we worked to renovate the strawberries, the rain was passing in and out. At one point, we had to stop working because it started pouring! Spring here in Southern California is just full of surprises like that, and I really don’t mind the rain. Are you planning to grow some strawberries? I’m glad to have this task finished so I can fully focus on starting some Summer seeds. It’s time for tomatillos, zinnias, marigolds, cucumbers, and some early squash! As always, feel free to leave a question or say hello! 


  1. nikkipolani

    I’m new to strawberry growing — got some runners at a plant share so I don’t know what variety they are. Appreciate the tip on Pineberries (I’m in CA, zone 10 as well) and worm castings.

    • FreckledCalifornian

      Hello! Yay for free plants! Hopefully they grow well for you. I should have mentioned to go light on the worm castings, as a little goes a long way.

  2. Kirk

    For areas with more temperature drops and colder spring time temperatures Sequoia will tolerate the cold and bear fruit earlier than Crandalls which are a good June (read “summertime July-September) bearing plants but will tolerate the colder temps fairly well. For these reasons I think you can err on the side of amending your strawberries a little earlier (March-April) if you go with these varieties.

    • FreckledCalifornian

      Thanks for your feedback and recs. Hopefully this will help some other local gardeners.


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Urban gardening is my jam. I’m Randi, California girl who obsessively gardens to grow food and flowers around my urban home. Seasonal, simple living is what inspires me~ I hope it will inspire you too. Join me in crafting a life and home connected to the garden Read More>>>>

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