If you want to grow strawberries successfully, it is imperative that you keep strawberries clean throughout the growing process. Soil, while full of beneficial nutrients, is also full of pathogenic fungi and other creepy-crawlies. Soil-borne microorganisms can wreak havoc on a strawberry planting. So, it is vital to protect the vegetative parts of the strawberry plant (leaves, stems) and the fruit from coming into contact with soil as much as possible.
How to Keep Strawberries Clean
Historically, strawberries were kept clean with a healthy layer of straw to serve as mulch and to keep the vulnerable parts of the plant from getting coated with contaminants. The layers of clean straw provided a barrier between the dirt and fruit, and also served to dissipate rain droplets from above. As rain falls, the drops form puddles in gardens without mulch. when enough water collects, the droplets hurtling toward the ground hit the puddles and cause dirt-permeated water to fly every which way. This contaminated water is spread up and out from the impact. Consequently, fruit and leaves that need to stay clean are often coated with the pathogenic fungi that will end up infecting and damaging both fruit and plants.
So, how to keep strawberries clean?
There are actually several different methods. Three notable ones will be presented below.
Three Ways to Keep Strawberries Clean
- Straw. Mulching is a time-tested way to keep your strawberry plants happy. Clean straw doesn’t compact like leaf litter or grass does. Therefore, air flow occurs. As air circulates, the environment doesn’t reach optimal conditions for the types of fungi that infect strawberries. It also serves as a barrier to prevent rain-spread contamination.
- Plastic. Plastic is used in many commercial strawberry farming operations. The techniques using plastic are collectively called Plasticulture. The plastic basically contains the soil with a water-impermeable barrier and also eliminates or minimizes rain splash.
- Strawberry Supports. A new and ingenious method of allowing for airflow keeping strawberries clean has also been developed. The devices are called strawberry supports. A newer method, the strawberry supports provide an elevated platform that both allows air to move freely and supports the leaves of the strawberry plants so that they don’t rest on the soil. And, the platforms are robust enough to also support the strawberries themselves. For the home gardener, these strawberry supports could be a great solution. They are available at Amazon.com.
Keep Strawberries Clean: Conclusion
Regardless of which method you chose to keep strawberries clean, doing so will undoubtedly help you reap a bigger harvest. Straw, plastic, and special strawberry supports designed specifically for the purpose will all get you closer to your delicious strawberries! A little care on the front end will yield a bountiful berry season on the back end. Good luck!