Strawberry is a perennial herb. What covering material for strawberries should I use and should I use at all?
- On the question of the need for shelter
- Types of covering materials
- Option 1: roofing material
- Option 2: organic mulch
- Option 3: live plants
- Special option: shelter of pyramids and steps
On the question of the need for shelter
Strawberries tend to tolerate winter well if they are under snow. But there are, so to speak, special cases:
- if frost hits, and there is still no snow;
- strawberries lay flower buds in the fall, and the future harvest depends on how you save them;
- Covering bare ground around strawberry bushes in summer also brings significant benefits.
The most common strawberry cover material is mulch.
Types of covering materials
Mulch is any material that can cover the soil, retain moisture, conduct air and create comfort for loosening soil. Bare soil is a bleeding open wound.
Option 1: roofing material
It is best to use cover mulch to cover the strawberries. This has been done since the 1920s. The berry above the mulch is clean, does not rot, and gives more yield.
Strawberries are more of a vegetable garden than a garden. And the ideal option for her is roofing mulch. The main requirement for a covering material for strawberries is to protect the roots and soil from light. Covering material is the best solution for wintering small plants, in our case with strawberries.
All that is required of us is to place the material over the garden bed and secure it properly so that it does not get blown away. One of the ways of planting strawberries on beds covered with roofing material can be found here.
Option 2: organic mulch
According to gardeners-practitioners, mulching strawberries with pine litter gives a very good result. Such a shelter gives a lot of advantages: it keeps the roots from drying out the soil in summer, suppresses the growth of weeds, insulates the plant in winter, and prevents berries from gray rot. But there is also an additional and very significant "bonus" - a significant improvement in the aroma and taste of berries. Apparently, coniferous phytoncides give many useful substances to the ovaries and berries of strawberries.
Strawberry bushes are mulched with straw. It also keeps the roots from drying out the soil in the summer, suppresses the growth of weeds, insulates the plant in the winter and prevents the berries from dirt and gray rot. In the straw, the soil microflora is significantly improved. It reproduces the hay bacillus, which produces more than 80 useful antibiotics and phytoncides. In the ground where the hay stick does well, there will never be any root rot.
Semi-rotted sawdust is another organic strawberry mulch. It also has protective properties against bad weather (cold, drought), fights weeds and protects crops from pollution. Its service life is slightly longer than that of straw, almost the same as that of pine needles - 3-4 years.
Seed peels, cardboard, old newspapers, magazines, shavings can also be used to cover the ground around strawberries, but they will have different weed control properties. The main thing is not to dig up the strawberry bed, turning the soil layers pulls out weed seeds to the surface, which can be stored in different layers for up to 20 years.
Option 3: live plants
The soil between the rows of strawberries is also planted with one- and two-year crops. These can be calendula, marigolds, undersized nasturtium, garlic, mustard and, finally, parsley. Each of these crops has its own special beneficial soil-improving properties. They also contribute to the accumulation of moisture in winter, if you do not remove their green mass in the fall.
Parsley protects the strawberry plantings from the invasion of snails and slugs. And marigolds, on the contrary, are very tasty for mollusks, but they effectively fight nematodes. Calendula, undersized nasturtium, garlic, mustard are very "disliked" by all kinds of pathogens, such as rot and mealy.
If you do not dig out the roots of these crops, then the soil becomes structured, a huge number of earthworms and beneficial microorganisms appear in it. There is evidence that competently cultivated soil after one- and two-year-old plants makes it possible to do without watering strawberries altogether. Cavities and capillary vessels appear in it, which feed the plants with moisture and nutrients from the lower layers of the soil.
Therefore, it is better to cut such plants and simply lay them in the aisle. Pruning and replanting annuals can be done 2-3 times per season. And in the fall, you don't need to prune at all, let the bushes be natural snow holders in the strawberry garden.
Special option: shelter of pyramids and steps
Considering covering materials for strawberries, one must not forget that, in addition to planting in beds and in near-trunk circles, there are plantings on specially created structures raised above the ground. These can be various pyramids, stepped beds, flasks, baskets, high beds.
In this case, the soil around the plants is also mulched with various organic matter, and drip irrigation is often applied. For the winter, such plantings are covered with insulating materials - burlap, lutrasil, agril.
Many people still believe that strawberries in the garden require unbearable labor costs, that they must always be loosened, weeded, and so on. Using various covering materials, you can save a lot of time, at the same time improve the soil environment of your site, and annually be content with an excellent harvest of this queen of the garden.