Putting Strawberries to Bed


Strawberry boxes r

Now that winter is here, it’s time for us to make sure that our strawberry plants are properly bedded for the cold. Timing is critical. We need to wait until the plants have gone dormant for the winter. Bedding too early can smother the plant, too late and the crowns of the plants will be damaged and not produce fruit the following year. The rule of thumb is to mulch or bed the plants when the temperatures are in the mid-twenties for a few days and the ground has not yet froze.

Straw

Most people bed their strawberries with straw. Straw is the preferred bedding over hay because straw is light, will allow some air flow, and does not smother the plants. Hay, on the other hand is very dense. It does not allow air flow and it can smother your plants. But even worse, hay contains seeds! That bale of hay could have grass or even weed seeds. These seeds can fall off and germinate in the spring. Now you have a host of other plants to get rid of in your strawberry bed!

Pine

Another way to mulch is with pine needles and pine wood chips. This is an environmentally sound way to bed strawberry plants. Strawberries thrive in slightly acidic soil. What better way to preserve the plants over the winter and feed the soil at the same time! We mixed pine needles with the soil when we initially prepared the strawberry beds. Now that we need to mulch for winter, we will spread a layer of pine shavings over the plants.

Like straw, pine shavings are light so they allow some air flow and will not smother the plants. Once the pine needles or shavings disintegrate, they will add acid back into the soil.

A word of caution. Freshly shipped or shredded pine, or any other wood, may still have moisture and toxic residue. The toxins are removed from the shavings by heavy watering or weathering. It’s best to use old, well weathered mulch products on your plants.

Once the strawberries have been bedded, they are protected from the winter cold and we can wait until next summer for another delicious harvest.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.
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Manure Matters!


Cleaning the run

When you raise cattle, chickens, and have horses, there is one more thing you have plenty of – manure!

Horses defecate approximately every two hours, cattle are tight up there with the horses, and we won’t even talk about the hens. Fifty pounds of manure a day, per livestock, well, there’s no other way to say it – That’s a lot of poop!

Our farm, like many others, pile it but then we need to get rid of it. You will regularly see our manure spreader on our fields or in our garden putting this black gold into the soil.

If it’s done right, manure will compost and turn into a rich black, earthy material that is beneficial to crops and fields. The animal manure adds organic nitrogen to the soil and plant matter, such as leave, straw, and even wood shavings or sawdust, add carbon. Both help plants thrive.

But there’s more. Yes, compost adds to the soils ability to hold water which is vital to the plants, especially during the dry season. Studies have shown that by adding as little as 1% of organic matter to a field or garden, the soil can hold an additional 1.5 quarts of water per cubic foot of soil. More organic matter – more water holding capacity. This is very important if the soil is sandy.

Spread evenly over a garden or field and plowed or tilled into the soil increases the soil’s ability to grow crops. Better crops lead to a better harvest.

garden

 

What better way is there to replenish the soil and get a better harvest without the use of chemicals!

See you at the compost pile!

For more information on compost see http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/compost_increases_the_water_holding_capacity_of_droughty_soils

KeiLin Farm, producer farm fresh beef and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. We also sell our compost when available.