We had a strawberry field in our backyard. “Had” is the operative word here. I got fed up with feeding every bird and pest in the neighborhood, so I had a conniption and removed them. Might there have been a better method of protecting the strawberries from insects? Probably. I was too impulsive and should have looked into strawberry plant protection. So here we are, learning how to protect strawberry plants from pests.
How to Protect Strawberry Plants from Pests
There actually are many ways of keeping pests away from strawberries, some of which I really did use….to no avail. The birds were the most obvious intruders. There are lots of things you can do to repel birds. Noise scares them off, but it’s so, noisy. Fake predator birds will do the trick sometimes but, interestingly, our fake eagle is covered with bird manure. A scarecrow works in corn fields, right? I didn’t want to erect an entire person, so we did something else. We hung old CDs from twine hanging along the gutter line under which the strawberries resided. It worked.
Once the birds were gone, you’d think I could heave a sigh of relief, right? Nope, now it was the bugs’ turn. The pests are attracted to the succulent berries via their sweet aroma. Following that line of reasoning, the obvious thing to do would be to distract them with another more scintillating odor. Herbs are often co-planted around crops to confuse pests. Try planting:
If nematodes are your problem, try planting marigolds as a method of strawberry plant protection. The nematodes are attracted to the marigold roots and invade them. Then the natural nematicides in the marigold’s roots kill the nematode and prevent it from breeding. So the numbers of nematodes will be naturally reduced.
While you’re planting marigolds, plant other flowers nearby. They will attract beneficial insects such as lacewings, parasitic wasps, ladybugs and spiders that like nothing more than supping on some of the less welcome pests.
Try organic methods of pest control when protecting strawberries from insects and other pests. Organic methods for keeping pests away from strawberries might involve hot pepper spray, rotten eggs, blood meal, castor oil, orange peels, soap and human hair. Apparently, soap or human hair placed in a mesh bag and hung on a tree branch at deer height will keep the deer away from the strawberries. Blood meal mixed into a gallon or water or an Epsom salt spray will keep the rabbits from eating young berry plants.
Make your own insecticidal soap with 4 tablespoons of dish soap to 1 gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle and douse the aphids. Ladybugs in the garden can also help with these pests.
The biggest offenders in my garden were the slugs. We tried the beer trap. Fill a container with beer and place it (or several of them) around the strawberries. Dig a hole so the container’s lid is level with the soil. The slugs fall into the container of beer and drown. Copper strips can also be placed around the perimeter of the garden to deter the slugs. Diatomaceous earth is another tool in your arsenal. The gritty powder cuts into soft bodied pests like slugs.
Lastly, using a floating row cover to keep pests from nibbling on your berries is probably one of the best ideas. This lightweight fabric covers the plants but allows them access to light, air and rain. Secure the edges of the row cover with stakes or heavy rocks or bricks to keep flying insects out. Remember to uncover the berries for at least 2 hours per day to allow the bees a chance to pollinate them.