Strawberry plant weeding

Hi! We have a small garden (approx. 10' x 20') in our back yard with some strawberries in it. I'm in Southern California, and right now it's a combination of weeds, dead grass, and green strawberry plants. My question is, can I mow that area & not kill the strawberries? Mowing is the easiest way to clear it out, but keeping those plants healthy enough to produce fruit is of paramount importance. If it'll harm them, we'll just have to dig in there & pull weeds. Thanks in advance.
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Edward wrote:

mowing will not kill the strawberries, but it won't help them either.
the strawberries need those leaves to make the fruit. you'll reduce or eliminate the crop by cutting them back.
leaving the weeds in reduces the nutrients and moisture that the strawberries can get at. so best to carefully weed around the plants you wish to encourage fruit from.
a practical approach to rejuvinating the patch is to pick a few areas where the most strawberry plants remain and clear out as many weeds as possible around those plants. then add some composted manure (not fresh manure!) and then mulch over that. this will help keep the weeds down.
the remaining area i would turn under and then plant a cover crop as soon as conditions are suitable. adding organic mulch to keep the weeds down and help build the soil fertility for future years. the strawberries will spread into these areas as they grow.
eventually you will want to rotate the entire patch in sections so you can keep up with the heavy feeding demands by either ammending or cover cropping.
songbird
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Thanks! It looks like there's no easy way out of hand weeding. I think I'll let it go for a few weeks though. A series of recent Pacific storms has resulted in temps down around freezing at night. Maybe that tall, dead grass surrounding the plants is helping to keep them warm at night. Thanks for your advice!
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On 3/1/2011 2:32 AM, Edward wrote:

i don't know the variety you have but some time ago I planted 100 Tn Beauties. They didn't bear the first year. We had to weed them by hand. Once you get the weeds out it is not difficult to keep them out just have to keep it up. We had so many berries, for years, until I went to Nam, that it kept all of the family rosy fingered. It was not uncommon to pick three gallons or so per day during the summer. Of course they were fertilized with chemical. Unless it is well rotted manure, I don't want to eat ground bearing berries off it. Don't need any, of a variety, of diseases. Cut the runners between plants each year. That assures the plants, of years before bear more. The new plants may not bear until the next season. You will have several times the starting plants every year afterwards, The biggest problem we had was snails. Really good berries draw the critters fast. You'll lose some. If they are the new shippers or cardboard berries(my term) you probably won't have too man pests. There is nothing like GOOD fresh ripe, tangy, sweet, aromatic, berries that taste like they smell or even better, strawberries and cream, for breakfast. If you haven't had any you will never buy another shipper, when you do.
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Edward wrote:

they are pretty cold tolerant and hardy plants.
now is a good time to get the weeds out and the soil prepared before the active growing season starts. you might even uproot some of them, plug 'em back in the dirt and water them when you're done and most will survive.

you're welcome,
songbird
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Good question Edward. Strawberries are delicious, especially grown fresh!

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