So I decided the easiest way to get mulch around the strawberries is
to use shredded paper - but I'm unsure about what paper is safe . Useta
be that glossy paper was not , but newsprint was . I *think* most modern
inks are soy based and safe , but I'm not sure . It'd sure be nice to
use all those spam mails for something productive instead of burning them .
if they weren't safe for plants it probably also isn't
safe to burn them. most at home burning doesn't burn
hot enough or clean enough IMO.
that said, i use regular newspaper for smothering things
under cardboard as an extra layer to just get rid of it
and the worms eventually take care of it.
if you aren't using it too much i think it is ok. i
don't use any shiny printed materials in case they have
plastic coated surfaces. in some cases in the past i've
missed a few pieces and noticed the worms seem to like
to suck the ink off the paper like it may have some salts
or strange things in it that worms find attractive.
based upon my experience all inks other than
carbon black and soy oil based have some
interesting things in them i'd rather avoid, but
at times i will still shred a small amount of
colored glossy inserts by accident and let the
worms eat those anyways. i'm concerned though
that this might not be the best thing over the
really long term so i'm being more careful now.
in my experiments with different glossy papers
and various colored inks i saw the worms actually
sucking the ink off the paper as if they were
attracted to it (perhaps it registered as a salt
or flavoring that they liked i'm not sure what -
perhaps it was melon flavored (they really like
since some papers and cardboards can be coated
with plastic (or have a layer of plastic hidden
between layers of paper) it can be a real mess
if you happen to shred that and then use it in
your composting system (yes i have had this happen
- years later i'm still picking pieces of plastic
out of some gardens).
I doubt inks and coatings are totally benign, but then what is these days?
Soaking and sloshing the shredded paper a bit more than suggested might
further wash out the inks and coatings into the waste water. Definitely
remove the plastic windows from the envelopes.
We cover the strawberries with Ponderosa pine needles for the winter.
Then remove most of them in the Spring(about now). And leave some
needles to use as mulch when the new leaves begin to grow. Keeps
irrigation water off the berries, too.
Paul in Central Oregon
i don't recall you posting here before so welcome. :)
if the plants are established i don't always bother
mulching them for the winter at all. this past winter
was as bad as they can get for plants with too many
times of bare ground and very cold chills down past
-20F. frost heave can pop late season transplanted
crowns right out of the ground by spring.
this past fall i managed to get the strawberry patch
done earlier in the fall/late summer and it looks like
i have survivors enough. just have to see how they
green up and hope the spring isn't too crazy with the
frosts when they are flowering.
some times i do put some pine needles on them but not
every year - it comes down to how busy i am with other
things and if i get to it.
i'm not sure what the irrigation water on the berries
would do as far as i can tell the berries are in good
shape here even with our normal rain falls. as long as
i get them picked when they are ripe.
to prevent mold and bug issues i pick everything that
is ready even the berries that are partially eaten by
chipmunks or birds. there are some berries that the
worms or wood lice will get after and i pick those too
if i notice them. any scraps that i can't eat will get
fed to the worm bins (along with the tops/leaves).
I've lurked here for years, but seldom see anything to comment on.
We live in the Central ORegon desert and have quite sandy soil, Actually
all volcanic ash! Water drops bounce up the sand and gets on the berries
and gives them a gritty texture, even after trying to wash them. So, the
pine needles break up the water drops, but still lets the water get to
The needles also help to keep the jeans clean when I have to kneel down
to pick the berries.
huh! learn something new every day. :)
we get some sand or clay splash but that
rinses away. i never rinse the berries when
i pick them but only right before i'm prepping
them for jam or mashing for shortcakes.
i can't do a lot of kneeling in any of
the gardens but if i have to get that low
to the ground i have ground pillows to sit
on. much easier on my body. every year is
a new adventure in what i can and can't do.
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