By Shae Hazelton
Strawberries are small red fruits that are as a delicious food source for humans as well as animals and insects. If you want to grow some strawberries for your private garden, you will need to take steps to protect the delicate fruit. The most common enemies of the strawberry are birds, frost and weeds. Follow a few simple guidelines to protect your precious strawberry plants from these common dangers and enjoy a bountiful strawberry harvest.
Heavily mulch your strawberry plants with pine needles or straw in the cold season. The frost can severely damage your strawberry crop, so often times mulching is a necessary step. Lay down the mulch in thick layers around the plant. Remove the mulch once the weather starts to warm up.
Construct wooden frames around the strawberry patch and stretch mesh wire over the top of the frame. Make sure the wire is about a foot and a half over the top of your tallest plant. You do not want your strawberry plants getting twisted and mangled in the mesh wire. The wire keeps birds from feasting on your strawberries while continuing to allow precious sunlight to nourish your plants. Check the mesh daily to make sure no birds get snared in the wire accidentally. Using a thicker gauge of mesh wire decreases the chances of birds getting stuck.
Don your gloves and weed your garden regularly. Your strawberry plants are going to need all the energy they can get to grow juicy fruit, but invasive weeds can rob their nutrients and even kill the strawberries over time. Examine the area around the strawberry plants once a week for any weed seedlings. Finding and killing weeds when they are only seedlings is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your strawberry patch weed free.
Build a scarecrow to stand watch over your strawberries. The idea may seem a little outdated, but scarecrows can be effective when fighting a bird invasion. It also gives you an opportunity to use some old clothes you no longer wear.
Pinching off the early strawberries that appear in June can help make your plant healthier and better able to survive cold conditions.
Sift through the mulch once a week during the cold season to check on your plants. Cover them back up as soon as possible, but you want to make sure they are doing okay under all that mulch.