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Strawberries Advice

By Ellen Brown

Question:

I want to do strawberries and planted about 50 tiny starter plants. Within a few weeks I found an ant hill and a few weeks later, most plants were dead. My neighbor told me that I won't be able to grow strawberries because of the ants? Any suggestions?
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Hardiness Zone: 5a

imama2many from UT

Answer:

imam2many,

A large colony of ants can be problematic in a strawberry patch primarily, because the ants act as protectors of aphids, tiny sap sucking insects which love to feed on young strawberry leaves. The aphids eat the leaves and excrete a sugary substance called honeydew that the ants love to feed on. The ants appreciate the honeydew so much that they will actually act as "shepherds" to the aphids, protecting them and herding them from plant to plant in an effort to keep them well fed. It is a win-win for both insects.

Short of moving your strawberries to a new location or resorting to pesticide use (which is unhealthy in the case of edibles and not always effective anyway), one strategy might be to try to clear the ants out of the area before replanting this spring. A week or two before you expect to plant, keep the soil moist (not saturated) and turn the soil over once or twice every day with a shovel. This will destroy their current mounds and should be enough to keep them from rebuilding. In theory, they will be fed up from the constant commotion and move to a more stable location. I have also read of gardeners successfully convincing them to relocate after flooding the mounds daily with a watering can, and others having some success by mixing diatomaceous earth into and on top of the mounds.

Good luck.

Ellen

Answers:

Strawberries Advice

Sprinkle crushed egg shells around your plants. They say ants (and slugs) don't like to crawl over them. (01/10/2008)

By perfume and powder

Strawberries Advice

Give them white sugar (sprinkle it right on the ground) it will kill their reproductive system and they will all eventually die. Will take it a while, but it will work. When it rains just sprinkle more sugar. (01/11/2008)

By kinga

Strawberries Advice

Coffee. Use Coffee Grounds. Most coffee shops will gladly give you their old coffee grounds. They're just gonna pitch them anyway. This will allow the ants to live their lives and do their part for nature, as well as allow you to grow strawberries. Ants do not like things with jagged edges, so if you put coffee grounds (with all their sharp little edges) around your strawberries, the ants won't encourage the aphids.

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As a note, you need to keep all the leaves from touching untreated ground, and you'll need to keep up on the grounds. We did this with our roses and it worked wonderfully. (01/11/2009)

By Jonathan

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