Strawberry report [under plastic]

ltiltonJune 21, 2014

Last year, I had enough of the weeds and mold infesting my strawberry bed, and I made a change, dug everything up, and planted a new bed under plastic weed barrier. This is my do-it-yourself version of strawberry plasticulture.

Short version, now that the season is winding down: it works. No problem with weeds in the bed. Almost no sign of botrytis, despite a notably wet season.

I planted Chandler and Cavendish, because I could get them late in the year and they are supposed to do well in plasticulture. They did. There wasn't much to distinguish the two varieties in terms of size and flavor; both are firm. I thought Chandler would be larger, but not really. Cavendish is a couple days later and seems to set a little more fruit.

I was worried about Cavendish in particular during last year's cold winter, but the plants survived very well under the snow cover here in N IL.

The one complaint I have is about Chandler's habit of ripening. The tip of the fruit remains white for too long after the rest is ripe-red. One white tip is visible in the photo of today's pick. [The flash made the color too light, these berries are actually dark red] If I plant more of these, I'd pick the Cavendish.

Commercial plasticulture growers treat these plants as annuals. I could do that, but my plan this year, at least, is to save these crowns and remove the runners, looking to increase the crowns. I'll use a liquid fert applied near the crown, once harvest is over.

Generally, though, I'd recommend this method for people having trouble with weeds and/or rot.

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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Last year Olpea mentioned using captan with acidic water. So before any fruits formed I kept my beds sprayed with Captan and rainwater. Once fruit formed i stopped spraying, No gray mold at all, zero! . I like your idea too. I may do that the next new bed. Here's my harvest today. The small reds are from where I use the strawberries as ground cover. Under a japanese maple tree. The strawberries have to compete for root room with the maple. They only produce small berries, but they are good! This batch includes alpines, musk, 3 different cultivars of pineberries, everbearing, and June bearing. The Junes are almost done. I had my first raspberry today, so the flood continues!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 5:24PM
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ltilton

I sprayed with Captan, too, during the blooming season.

But I've done that before, and never had the success as this year, with the plastic.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 7:35PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

It didn't work for me until I used acidic water to mix it in.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 8:14PM
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ltilton

worth giving it a try

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:38PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Reading some old university info, the commercial people use to use two chemicals, one was captan, but the other I forgot what it was? Is only available to those with a license, no home use. I was using tap water, and now with all sprays I use rainwater. Not that one needs to, but certainly with captan. Olpea was right, it just don't work otherwise.
The plastic is a good idea too, Runners are a problem, the area soon is a mess and you can't tell original plants from runners, and I'm constanly pulling plants. The strawberries get dirty too, even with mulch, they still manage to make it to the ground.
I suppose the plastic makes it easier to manage the runners. it would be easy to put pots and stuff to collect them if needed.
Tell us how you did it, as I would like to know. What exactly did you use, where can I get it etc.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:53PM
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ltilton

I used the plastic weedblock that lets through moisture, although I also laid a soaker hose under the plastic. It's not permanent, tho I think it'll last a couple of years.

Because my garden is low, I raised the row with resulting trenches on either side, and a more shallow depression down the middle, for the hose. That left two rows about 2' apart, and I set the crowns at about 2', alternating them. That took about 50 crowns. I unrolled the plastic as I planted, then pinned it down at the edges.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 5:47AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

So you cut holes for the crowns i assume? What did you use to pin it down?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 6:36AM
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ltilton

Yes, I rolled the plastic over each crown, then cut an X and pulled the leaves thru. I just used fabric staples to pin down the sides.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 9:21AM
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