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For strawberry plants, I know you're supposed to take the flowers off of them for the first year (pinch them) so that they focus on developing the plants rather than the fruits. Then the fruits following will be better because of it.

If I plant strawberries in the fall, would that be enough time for them to get established, and then they would be able to produce fruit in the following summer? Or would it still be better to pinch the flowers for that first year? They're june-bearing strawberries if that matters.

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I used to systematically disobey every gardening rule, just to get the result, and I've found that this rule is very helpful, but the plants won't die without it, they'll just lose vigor. –  J. Musser Aug 26 at 22:12

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Well, technically, yes. You should always give them their first growing season free of fruiting. This encourages the plant to become more established than if you (like me) let them fruit the first year. Even if they grow roots in the fall, and some more in the spring, that's not the same as being established.

It gives them a good head start to plant them in the fall, as with most fruits. Some people want you to pinch the flowers for the first two years, usually one, and this is good common sense, and there is a noticeable difference between plants that were not allowed to flower, as compared with those that were allowed to flower.

I've done both. Spring and fall planting, and letting the flowers go versus pinching them. Also, junebearing versus everbearing is something to consider, everbearing varieties usually being allowed to fruit in the fall, but pinched back earlier, in the spring and summer.

If you do let them flower the first year, you'll be behind somewhat the next year, and the plants won't be so vigorous and productive. The same goes for many other plants as well, like asparagus, for instance, which shouldn't be harvested the first 3 years after planting, or it will interfere with the establishment of the new plant. Now, I've disobeyed that rule too, but that's not a good excuse for doing it yourself. :)

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My advice is to allow the strawberry bed to become established and go find a great "pick your own" strawberry patch next year instead of trying to coax new plants to produce berries for you.

Your patience will be rewarded, particularly if you invest a bit of time in providing those young plants the best environment possible - keeping it weed free, making sure it has enough water and also has good drainage, ensuring that the soil is fertile, protecting the plants from pests/maladies.

Strawberries really do benefit from having time to put down roots and establish themselves. It can be tempting to get strawberries right away - and you'd get a few, no doubt - but you'll get considerably more in years 2 and afterward if you focus on the long term and let those plants concentrate their energy on root/plant growth.

If you haven't acquired the strawberry plants yet and don't have a well-established bed for them, I might even suggest that you delay planting them this fall and instead work on getting that bed established by increasing the organic matter in the soil, perhaps with a cover crop ("green manure") this winter. Just a thought. The plants are probably only getting a couple month's worth of growth this fall and then will be dormant until spring (you're in zone 6, right?) so that 2-3 months of missed growth wouldn't adversely affect the 2016 berry output in my opinion. Again, I'd probably personally do that if I didn't have an established bed for the berries.

When I've been impatient, I've ended up picking a few berries in year 1 but when I've been disciplined and followed the time-tested advice to pinch in year 1 and pick in year 2, I've had considerably better yields.

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