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 Farm).
“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.