Connecticut Garden Journal: Strawberry Care
It's strawberry fields forever. The delicious red berries are coming in strong and it's time to take care of the berries and plants for next year.
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The first order of business is to protect the berries. Birds love strawberries. We lay fine mesh netting over our patch each year to keep the birds away. It works well, especially if we lay the netting down before the berries ripen.
Another culprit is chipmunks. There have been lots of chippies around this year and they're hungry little guys. Use a thicker plastic deer fencing over the berries and secure it well on the ground to prevent them from tunneling under it. Another option is essential oils. Some gardeners have had success soaking cotton balls with peppermint oil and placing those in the garden. It seems chippies don't like the smell.
Although this spring has been drier than normal, slugs and snails are still out. If they're munching on your berries, place beer traps in the beds to draw them away and remove and hay or straw mulch in the paths.
Pick any berries that are rotting and destroy them. This mummy berry disease can spread to other ripening berries. After harvest of the June bearing strawberries, renovate the beds by narrowing the rows to 2 feet apart, removing crowded plants. Fertilize, water and weed well for a good crop next year. For day neutral varieties, keep watering and add some organic fertilize so the berries will keep coming until fall. You'll get smaller crops of day neutral berries compared to the June bearers and they will be spread out over time.