We have been placing straw under strawberries. Mike hates the untidiness of straw, as it tends to get dropped on the way to the strawberry patch & bits of straw blow round the garden. But while he is away, I thought I would take the opportunity to slip some under the strawberry plants.
The advantages of using straw under the strawberries are:
- the fruits grow out onto the straw, and are kept off the soil, so the strawberries are clean
- the straw stops weeds growing
- the straw acts as a mulch and conserves moisture
- the straw protects the strawberry plants against frost in winter
- the straw holds the fruits up, allowing air to circulate freely, which keeps the fruit healthy & less prone to fungal diseases
- the straw breaks down into organic matter which will eventually enter the soil & feed the plants
We have tried alternatives:
- no straw at all because the strawberries were planted through a plastic membrane. The membrane will stop the fruits coming in contact with the soil. But I found the strawberries tended to ’sweat’ on the plastic membrane, and then rotted.
- wood chips – slugs were a problem
- straw – barley straw is my favourite & this is what we have mainly used this year. But I accidentally picked up some oilseed rape straw, which has been laid on the left hand side of the left strawberry row, in the photo below. It has crushed up more, but it will be interesting to see how it compares over the fruiting season. I would expect it to stay drier, but we will see.
Strawberry mats look a nice, clean alternative. Perhaps someone will read this & remember my birthday next month! But I wonder if they will be big enough? Our strawberries tend to grow out a long way.
So much depends on the season: the rain, the temperatures and the humidity. We are having a lot of misty weather just now. But we will watch the fruit and see what effect the straw under the strawberries has.