Mulching strawberries in the garden
Mulching strawberries Is one of the most reliable ways to protect your crop from diseases and harmful insects.
In order to harvest a large harvest of berries every year, strawberry planting must be carefully looked after. Weeding and watering is not enough, it is imperative to apply fertilizers, prune bushes and mulch the soil. It is strawberry mulch that greatly facilitates the work of gardeners, as it helps to maintain soil moisture and replenish the nutritional value of the top layer.
Knowledge and technologies in mulch laying will help you to increase the yield. In this article, you will get acquainted with what mulch is, how mulching with different materials is carried out, their distinctive properties, the pros and cons of mulching.
Mulch for strawberries: why you need to mulch the soil
This agrotechnical technique allows you to maintain the necessary soil moisture. And also to replenish the nutritional value of the upper nutrient layer, which is most susceptible to weather factors: rains, winds, winter frosts. All this depletes the soil and it will be difficult for it to recover without your help.
Mulch for strawberries has a positive effect on the development of earthworms and beneficial microorganisms that are involved in the formation of a fertile soil layer. Also, strawberry mulch plays an important role in protecting the plantation from weeds.
The soil, covered with a fertile layer of the selected material, does not receive sunlight. Consequently, the growth of weeds first slows down, and then stops altogether.
In winter, the presence of a thick layer of mulch is especially important - this will protect the root system of plants from freezing. Strawberries tolerate winter well if they are well covered with snow. But in snowless winters, only strawberry mulch can protect your plantings.
Mulch for strawberries is able to protect plant roots from viruses and fungal diseases, as well as from pests, for example, from slugs and snails, which are always not averse to eating berries, but will not be able to move on straw or sawdust.
The mulching method is used for any type of planting of strawberries, except for solid ones. When the berries are planted in a continuous carpet and it is not possible to sprinkle the ground with mulch.
There are two types of mulch:
Inorganic - material of inorganic nature is used: PVC film, agrofiber, spunbond, crushed stone, pebbles, expanded clay, etc.
Organic - organic matter is used: peat, humus, straw, sawdust, needles, leaves, grass cuttings, tree bark, compost, etc.
Gardeners can use either one of the types or two types together, for example, black film and straw. The film is used as the main material, it heats the ground in spring, but the straw is laid out on top to reflect the sun's rays to avoid overheating the soil.
If you opt for organic material, it will decompose over the course of the season, feeding the soil. Well, one more important plus of mulching - even the heaviest and largest berries do not touch the ground, do not rot and do not get dirty.
The best kind of mulch for strawberries, for everyone it can be different. Depending on the type of soil on your site, on the variety of berries that you have chosen for planting and on others, on the environmental conditions and on other factors.
How to mulch strawberries in spring, summer and autumn?
Remember, the soil needs to warm up in the spring, so it is not recommended to keep strawberries under mulch all year round. Mulching of strawberries begins with the appearance of the first flowers.
Mulching strawberries can be transferred to the summer. But before that, it is imperative to prepare the soil and the strawberries themselves:
- loosen the soil
- cut antennae and wilted leaves
- pour well with water
If you laid mulch in the summer, be sure to monitor its condition. Organic materials must be stirred, and areas with putrefactive masses must be removed. Do not allow the mulch to completely adhere to the bushes of the plant, leave a gap of 2-3 cm so as not to disrupt air exchange.
In the fall, mulching takes place in September, when the strawberries have yielded their last harvest and are dormant. Then the mulch will serve as protection against soil freezing and prevent damage to the roots.
But before choosing any one material, think about what exactly you want to mulch strawberries for? Do you need protection from weeds, diseases and harmful insects, or do you want to fertilize the soil and feed the plants? Depending on the purpose, choose one of the materials below.
Mulching strawberries - what to use?
Below we will analyze what types of mulch, we will analyze their qualities and disadvantages, and we will understand for what purposes each type of mulching serves.
It is in the first place among those materials that suit strawberries. For mulching, you need to take dry material. The straw has a high content of fiber, thanks to which it protects the straw from rotting. And the same reason is a poor food source. In addition, straw draws minerals from the soil. To eliminate the loss of minerals, the straw is mixed with manure. A layer of straw is laid out depending on the soil.
When the soil is loose - 12-17 cm of straw will be optimal for mulch, after two to three days the mulch will settle by 8-10 cm.If the soil is heavy and has a clay layer, then strawberry mulching with straw is carried out in a small layer of 5-7 cm, changing the mulch every two weeks.
It's no secret that straw is an excellent shelter for mice. Therefore, in September, straw mulch must be removed.
- natural, organic material;
- readily available;
- leaks water;
- when decomposing, enriches the soil with nutrients;
- reflects the sun's rays;
- absorbs vapors from the soil.
- often sold in compressed bales that are very difficult to break;
- long stems are difficult to stack, you have to cut, and this takes a lot of time and effort;
- difficult to put firmly, as a result, weeds are able to break through it;
- when decomposing, it acidifies the soil, therefore it cannot be used on acidic soils;
- may contain weed seeds.
Needles - contains a high amount of phytoncides. These substances are powerful weapons in the fight against parasites. Also, thanks to the coniferous mulch, your strawberries will be sweeter.
The needles oxidize the soil over time due to their tannins. Therefore, it is well suited for slightly acidic soils. But there is another option, before laying coniferous mulch, add lime in a slaked state 50 grams per square meter.
For mulch, yellowed pine needles are used - pine needles. Coniferous litter is laid in a small layer up to 5 cm. In spring, the mulch must be renewed, and the old one can not be removed, during the hilling of the bushes it will mix with the ground.
It should be borne in mind that the needles practically do not provide protection from the sun, therefore, such mulch is not particularly suitable for hot regions.
- delays moisture evaporation;
- allows air and water to pass through;
- disinfects the soil;
- protects against gray mold;
- protects berries from slugs and snails, they do not like to crawl on it.
- difficult to collect in the forest in sufficient quantities;
- difficult to lay, pricks;
- contains, in addition to needles, branches, scales of cones;
- acidifies the soil;
- due to looseness, poorly inhibits the growth of weeds.
Therefore, approaching the question of whether it is possible to mulch strawberries with pine needles, proceed from the possibilities of collecting needles and the region of your residence.
Hay, fresh grass
Fresh Herb - Fortified with fiber, which degrades quickly. The berry will be nourished, but not for an extended period. Since, due to the rapid decomposition of fiber, the mulch layer will quickly deplete, this will serve to rot the lower layer. Thus, the berries will be poisoned by putrefactive products that enter the root system.
Hay - so that the hay mulch does not serve only as a temporary feeding for the plant, the hay should be spread with a layer of 8-12 cm and after two weeks it should be changed to fresh mulch. This is a very time consuming process. Before laying out the hay, you must dry it well.
Mulching strawberries with cut grass has its advantages and disadvantages.
- retains moisture;
- increases the fertile soil layer, with decomposition;
- inhibits the growth of weeds;
- conveniently expands.
- when it dries, it decreases in volume, so you need to put it on constantly;
- you need to lay out gradually, if you spread it out at once in a thick layer, the grass will rot.
It works well as mulch. The content of tannins in pine is small, which means that the soil will not oxidize. This material is long-lasting, it can last 5-6 years. But you will often have to water the beds, mulch from the bark, does not retain moisture well. It is laid out in a layer of 4-6 cm. This mulch can be left for the winter. It will prevent the soil from freezing and will preserve the roots of your plants.
- protects the soil from weed growth;
- retains moisture;
- protects the soil from weathering;
- protects the berry from contact with the soil;
- looks good.
- the soil dries out faster than other types of mulch;
- acidifies the soil;
- difficult to clean.
They are not a food source as they decompose slowly. Their service life is quite long, up to 4 years. Sawdust retains water for a long time, so there will be no need for frequent watering. To mulch with sawdust, cover the soil with a newspaper, and then lay out a layer of sawdust 4-6 cm. Thanks to this mulch, there will be fewer slugs in your garden due to the rough surface of the sawdust. Sawdust mulch can also be used before winter.
- retain moisture
- reflect the sun's rays;
- lay down in an even layer;
- perfectly inhibits the growth of weeds;
- protects against slugs and snails;
- help to improve the structure of the soil;
- have a decorative effect, look beautiful on the beds.
- fresh sawdust absorbs nitrogen during decomposition, so you need to use either already rotted sawdust, or additionally add this element to the soil;
- acidify the earth, so it is better to add them together with ash, lime and other substance that reduces the acidity of the soil.
Cardboard - Used to optimize the soil environment. To do this, you will need pieces of cardboard, which should be laid on the beds, but not close to the bushes, stepping back 4-6 cm from the strawberries. To prevent the cardboard from sliding out, it is enough to press down on the edges with a small load. Water and feed the strawberries through the hole throughout the season. It is recommended to put compost under the cardboard in the summer, and then the strawberries will receive nutrients throughout the season.
Spandbond - a geosynthetic material has a special technology, it does not allow light to penetrate, maintaining a certain temperature in the soil, creates an optimal moist environment in the soil. Through this material, you can water and feed the berry.
If you do not know how to mulch strawberries during fruiting, then this method will suit you.
For strawberry mulch, a black material is used that is quite dense - 80 g / m2.To begin with, the spandbond is spread evenly on the future bed, holes are cut and seedlings are planted in them. If mulching falls on the garden bed already with strawberry bushes, then between the rows of bushes they are covered with material, without leaving open areas. This mulch will last up to 4 years without requiring replacement.
For mulching, it is better to buy a two-color one. Black on the one hand, white on the other. The light side will reflect the sun's rays and the soil will not overheat.
- slows down the evaporation of soil moisture, as a result of which the earth remains moist for a long time;
- does not let in sunlight, which helps to avoid burns of the root system;
- inhibits the growth of weeds;
- allows air to pass through;
- smoothes out spring and autumn temperature drops;
- you can use the traditional watering method.
- condensation may form on the surface of the spunbond, which increases the risk of strawberry disease;
- in hot weather, the soil under this material warms up strongly.
So that the soil does not warm up very much during the hot season, the spunbond is raised and aired.
Film - for mulch is usually taken with a thickness of at least 25 microns in black. Such mulch will last 2-3 years. If you plan to use it for one season, then you can get by with a thinner material. The film is laid in the same way as the spandbond, the difference is that in this case it is necessary to water the strawberries through the holes.
If you use different materials at the same time for mulching, then for the berry it will only benefit. You can combine bark and grass, compost and manure. Thanks to this mulching, the plants will be provided with a favorable environment.
- retains moisture in the soil;
- helps to fight weeds;
- prevents the strawberry mustache from taking root;
- protects berries from contact with the soil;
- protects the plant from temperature extremes;
- in spring it helps to warm the soil by 2 degrees;
- black color attracts the sun, so the soil can overheat in summer;
- the film does not allow air to pass through, the same reason for overheating the soil;
- overheating of the soil can lead to dropping out of the roots;
- retains excess moisture, which leads to the appearance of wood lice, slugs and fungal diseases;
- it is necessary to organize drip irrigation under the film, and this is costly.
- improves soil properties;
- increases the fertile layer;
- is an excellent fertilizer;
- protects against weed growth;
- due to its dark color, it raises the temperature of the soil;
- may contain weed seeds, insect larvae, fungal spores.
For mulching, it is better to use neutral peat with a low acidity level.
- allows moisture to pass through and slows down its evaporation;
- lets air through to the roots;
- restrains weeds;
- it's a pleasure to work with him.
- when watering, it absorbs moisture, so you need to monitor whether the soil under it has become wet;
- the dark color raises the temperature of the soil;
- hard to get.
The benefits and harms of mulching
Summer residents still cannot come to a consensus about what is better. Some argue that strawberries are harvested thanks to mulching. Others say that mulch has a detrimental effect on plants. Consider all the advantages and disadvantages of mulching.
Mulching with different types of materials will help solve many problems for a summer resident:
- protects against soil freezing in winter
- prevents soil overheating in summer
- retains moisture in the soil
- prevents weed growth
- the soil is less susceptible to disease
- the berry is not subject to decay
- the soil remains loose
- ripening of berries is faster
There are enough advantages to resort to mulching strawberries, if you do all this separately, you need a large amount of money and a lot of effort.
- The disadvantage of mulch is a favorable breeding ground for slugs. The moist soil under the mulch becomes the home of the snails, and the decomposed organic matter is good food for insects. But this does not mean that you need to give up mulching. If there is an excess of these pests in your summer cottage, then it is most advisable to apply mulch from needles or sawdust. Such mulching will create a biocenosis, which will help not to exclude, but keep the number of mollusks without harm to strawberries.
- Also, it can be a minus - rotting of the lower layer of mulch. This is usually due to heavy rainfall and, if the soil to be covered with mulch, is clayey enough. But here it is enough to know the climate of your region and not to lay the mulch in a thick layer on heavy clay soil. And it is necessary to observe the mulch throughout the season.
- Mulching attracts rodents, birds and many insects. And this is also called a minus in mulch by summer residents, but it is wrong to consider this a disadvantage. After all, a summer cottage, as a rule, has vegetable gardens, greenhouses where other crops are grown, and thereby attracting all sorts of pests.
Experts are sure that the misconception of people about the dangers of mulching is due to the fact that a person does not have all the information about the correct use of material for mulch in different regions.
It is important to know that mulching will not solve all your problems, but it will help gardeners save budget, energy and time.