With temperatures near freezing or lower, remember the sweet, delicious strawberries in your garden in June and take a moment to protect those plants and next season's crop. Like many people, strawberry plants don't like cold temperatures.The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

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When should I mulch my strawberry garden?

Cold winter temperatures and repeated freezing and thawing of the soil throughout the winter are major threats to strawberry plants. Temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit may kill flower buds and damage the roots and crowns of uncovered plants. Repeated freezing and thawing of the soil can also damage plants, which can lift uncovered plants out of the ground.

Strawberries should be covered before fall temperatures drop below +20 F. Before mulching, however, allow the strawberry plants to harden or acclimate to cooler fall temperatures. Plants that are mulched too early are more susceptible to winter damage than those that are mulched after proper hardening. In northern Iowa, strawberries are usually covered in late October to early November.

What material is good for covering strawberries?

Quality mulching materials include clean, weed-free oats, wheat or soybean stalks. Chopped cornstalks are also a possibility. When applied, the depth of mulch should be 3 to 5 inches. The material should eventually settle to 2 to 4 inches.

In windy, exposed areas, straw cover can be maintained by placing wire or plastic fencing over the area. Fences can be held in place with bricks or other heavy objects.

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Are leaves a suitable covering for strawberries?

Leaves are not a good winter cover for strawberries. Leaves can be layered on top of each other, trapping air and creating space for ice to form. Leaves, air and ice do not provide enough protection. Mulch may actually damage the plant because there is too much moisture under the material.

How to protect strawberries in the Strawberry Pyramid?

A strawberry pyramid is a raised bed. In the winter, the temperature of the raised bed may be several degrees cooler than that of the ground planting. Because of the cooler temperatures, strawberry plants growing in raised beds need more protection than on the ground. In the fall, place 6 to 8 inches of straw or chopped corn stalks in a strawberry pyramid or other raised seedbed.

How to protect strawberries grown in a strawberry jar?

Strawberry plants grown in strawberry jars or other containers can be severely damaged or destroyed if left outdoors during the winter. One option is to put the container in an attached, unheated garage in November. The second option is to discard the strawberry plants in the fall, dump the potting soil, store the containers indoors in the winter, and replant them in the spring. Daily neutral and perennial strawberry varieties performed better in containers than June strawberries.

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