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Mineral-burned strawberries

Mineral-burned strawberry leaves

When I spread the first round of minerals on the front garden, my gut feeling was that adding the trace minerals to the gypsum was a bad idea, and apparently I was right.  Since the trace minerals tended to settle to the bottom of the wheelbarrow, it was tough to get them spread evenly, and I'm pretty sure I overdosed certain parts of the garden.  Within a week or two, the overwintering strawberry leaves had turned brown and dried up.  Yikes!

Overwintered strawberry plant

In contrast, the photo above shows what our strawberry plants should look like at this time of year.  Sure, over-wintered leaves aren't vibrant, but they shouldn't be dessicated either.  I did spread minerals in the area where this photo was taken, but it was during the second round when I carefuly scattered the trace minerals first, then went back over the ground with gypsum.  I'd say the living plants got very mildly nipped in these regions, but trouble was barely evident within a few days.

New strawberry leaf

Luckily, the mineral-burn on the front garden strawberries seems to have only affected the leaves, not the entire plants.  New green leaves are poking up from the centers, so I hope the damage will be equivalent to a herd of deer tromping through the garden and eating their fill (which used to happen regularly in years past --- we still got crops, albeit smaller ones).

The take-home message is --- spread trace minerals very carefully.  And, while you're at it, try to pick a dormant season for mineral-spreading, although that's not really possible in a hard-working garden like ours.  Finally, strawberries are more sensitive to minerals than any of our other over-winterers (like garlic and herbs) are, so it might be worth holding off on remineralizing strawberries until you're getting ready to start a new bed.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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What else can cause the strawberry leaves to die back like that besides mineral burn? My strawberry patch almost completely died back this year, and I have no idea why. I didn't add anything to the strawberries this year. I assumed that it was because I didn't cover them with fresh straw in the fall, but now I'm wondering if something else might be wrong.
Comment by Drake Mon Mar 25 09:49:57 2013
Jill showed me a tip from Lee Reich's In Lee's Garden Now for stove ash and fruit trees that may apply: toss it on lightly while the snow covers the ground and the trees are dormant, allowing it to dilute and seep in evenly. I intend to do this today ; >
Comment by Bill Mon Mar 25 10:10:34 2013

Drake --- Strawberry leaves will naturally look sad at this time of year, but that's pretty normal as long as the plants peek back up through as spring progresses. What should be cause for concern is if your leaves look worse than in years past. I can't quite tell from your comment whether that's the case for you or not?

Bill --- That's in essence what we did, only with rain instead of snow. (We get so much rain in the winter that it washes things into the soil quickly.) I think it did help prevent mineral-burn on our other plants, but strawberries seemed less keen.

Comment by anna Mon Mar 25 10:52:29 2013
Who knows, they could turn out to be the best strawberries ever. Remember, Solomon's prescriptions are conservative. I am having a heckuva time spreading the powders evenly so am going to try using a carrier, eg peat.
Comment by Jackie Wed Mar 27 00:01:10 2013

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