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Strawberries love lots of water. At the wrong place and at the wrong time, it can cause a proliferation of the Mycosphaerella fragariae fungus which can ruin a crop and do serious damage to the plant. The plants usually recover, but the harvest can be lost.
Water splashed on the leaves provides a suitable environment for this fungus, particularly in hot weather. It can quickly spread from one plant to the entire crop. When watering strawberries, every effort should be made to avoid wetting the leaves.
Lower leaves and many of the strawberries will naturally come in direct contact with the soil. For the small garden, it is important that this not be allowed to happen as it can introduce the fungus to the plant.
Rainfall can beat the lower leaves and strawberries to the ground. I have tried several methods to keep these leaves and berries off the soil, including various mulches. I've come up with a cheap and effective method to help prevent contamination; a plastic mesh pot scrubber and a couple of plastic grocery bags.
The technique is so simple, I won't bother with 'how to' pictures. I bought a bag of scrubbers from Dollar Tree, 6-8 to a bag. I cut the 'gathering' string at the top of each and unrolled the scrubbers, much as you would a nylon hose. The inside end is already tied.
I gathered the 'tube' to the inside end, so as to make inserting one plastic bag, easy. Then, I inserted another bag, shaping them into a uniform tube. The free end is secured with a twist tie.
Then I placed the tube around the base of the plant, making sure that all berries and leaves are gathered up off the soil. With another twist tie, I joined the two ends of the tube together and secured them with a good twist.
This will prevent any contact between berries, leaves, and the soil. Rainfall can quickly drain away. This should also make it easier to water the plants without wetting the leaves.
Last year, I gave all my strawberries to my sister. She put them in her freezer. I never did get down there to make the strawberry shortcake we had planned. This year I'm going to make a few strawberry daiquiris. It will be my first time with fresh picked berries. Yes!