Since we lost our fall garden to our wild kingdom of critters this year, I didn't think much about the coming cold snap.
But SM did.
"What about the strawberries?" He wanted to know.
This is our first year growing strawberries and while they stopped putting out fruit about a month ago, the plants themselves are deep green, happy and have survived the 32 degree frosts we've had the past few weeks just fine.
But I knew that there's a big difference between a frost and a hard freeze. SM suggested we just toss our old bed sheets over them. I wasn't so sure that was the best solution so I googled what to do and came across various articles that suggested straw.
The problem with regular old straw is that it brings with it lots of seeds. I figured that out fast enough this year after using straw last fall in my raised beds. THAT was a mistake! I've got enough weeds, thank you very much, so instead I told SM to go get us some pine needle straw.
Pine needle straw is big around here. Most folks use it to beautify their landscaped beds. I was interested in it when we first moved here but always thought that the twice a year application of fluffy pine straw was ridiculous. The expense! This stuff ain't cheap let me tell you!
Every Spring and Fall a huge truck rolls through our neighborhood stopping at each house and knocking on the door to see if the homeowner is wanting to buy. It's a great service if you think about it, but they must pay a premium for it. The guys hop down and spread the straw for you too.
Being from the north, I've always used pine bark nuggets and gotten along fine with a once a year "freshening" if the beds looked thin so I've never bothered with the straw before.
So SM went out this past week and bought 6 bales. He said the nursery wanted $4.50 per bale so he went to the big box and got them for $3.80 each.
We went out yesterday and spread it. "How much are you supposed to put down?" SM hollared at me.
I shrugged. "It's supposed to act like an insulating blanket so I'd lay it on thick enough that you can't see the plant."
So we covered them up and said "Good Night".
I think I'll like the pine straw for the berries. Next spring I can mash them down around the plants for a protective mulch so it'll keep the dirt from splashing on the fruit.