DEAR NEW FARM:
Can you recommend a technique and ingredients for stopping
the overgrowth of grassy and broadleaf weeds taking over our
strawberry plants (which are planted in plastic mulch)?
We posed your question to our friends Paul and Sandy Arnold,
who don’t use plastic but rather have devised an annual
bed system of strawberry production utilizing straw mulch
at their diversified 7-acre organic farm in Argyle, New York
(look for a story detailing their method coming soon at New
“As you know, we use hay mulch or straw mulch
on our strawberries that is spread on the field prior to
planting and after making the hills with our tractor and
18-inch hilling disks (two passes). We have seen other farmers
use black plastic, then just put straw in the paths.
Larry didn't specify whether he was growing the plants
on the annual system, or if the weeds were coming up around
the strawberry plants or in the area between the plastic
mulch. But if the weed pressure is high in a field, it always
helps to stale seed bed—disturb the planting area
so that weed seed germinates and then hoe them off one they
germinate. We stale seed bed the field during the summer
every week or 10 days to reduce the weed seed bank and therefore
give a cleaner field for planting in the fall. To stale
seed bed, we use either the rototiller set very shallow
or, preferably, the Lely tine-weeder."
us with comments, suggestions and questions.