Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter Mulch for Strawberries

   Over the weekend I applied winter mulch to the strawberry field.  Strawberries got their name because the plants need to be protected from winter cold by placing several inches of straw over them during winter.  The straw insulates the plants from fluctuating soil temperatures that would cause repeated soil freezing and thawing, which can cause strawberry crowns to heave out of the soil and die.  The mulch keeps the soil from heating up so much during the day, and helps it retain more heat at night.
I had mulched the back of these strawberry beds, while the front hadn't received mulch yet.  This mulch will stay on top of the plants until mid-March, protecting them from winter cold.
   Strawberry leaves are semi-evergreen, and don't turn brown until mid-winter.  Mulch needs to be applied while they're still green, about mid-Dec. in our area.  Remove the mulch in spring when new leaves start to grow, about mid-March in our area, and place it in the aisles between the strawberry beds to provide a soft, clean area for picking fruit.  Residual mulch left around the strawberry plants keeps ripening fruit off the soil, greatly reducing fruit rots.
   A couple weeks ago Bill applied the fall copper spray to our peach orchard to prevent leaf curl disease.  He's now winterized the sprayers.  A couple weeks ago I placed white tree guards around the young peach trees to prevent winter damage to the trunks from heating up so much during the day, then freezing at night.  I also put black mesh guards around them to protect against deer and rabbit feeding.
Our young peach trees have white tree guards around them to prevent winter damage to the trunks, black mesh guards to protect against deer and rabbit feeding, and buckets with holes in the bottom to water the trees during dry spells.
   We've now sold out of all 'GoldRush' apples and all #1 'Enterprise' apples, but we still have some nice #2 'Enterprise' apples in our new cooler, which keeps them in good condition.  We'll be selling them all Dec. and into Jan.  Call 620-597-2450 if you want to come buy some.