Posted on June 3, 2010 - by

Strawberries Strawberries

I just wrote a petition asking that we all take a moment to write to the EPA and tell them how horrific we think methyl iodide is, ESPECIALLY as used as a soil fumigant for strawberries.  You can add your comments to our petition through the month of June, and we, along with CREDO Action and PANNA, will deliver them to the EPA at the end of the month.

In the depths of despair, working to craft my message with enough clarity and passion so that it may spread far and wide, I began to feel an urge to ‘close the loop,’ to include the farmers who AREN’T using horrible pesticides like methyl iodide on their strawberries.  So I sent out a message to our flourishing Facebook page (if you aren’t a fan, you should be!), and immediately got responses from across the country from farmers who have found better ways to grow their strawberries.  I wanted to share them with you.  I hope it gives you hope for both the future of our agricultural system and for the future of the strawberry.

If you would like to add your thoughts about how you grow your strawberries, please email me at

As a small-scale Certified Naturally Grown strawberry producer, my main techniques include: selecting a variety that balances disease-resistance, berry size, and overall yield; thinning plants to let the sunshine ripen berries properly and to reduce mold problems; fostering rich, healthy soil to give the strawberry plants all they nutrients they need to produce a good crop and fight pests on their own; keeping the berries off the ground by using straw; and, over the long-term, rotating the patch to a new location. This is all that is required to produce big, tasty berries — no chemicals needed!
Donna Wellman
Grinning Planet Farm
Berea, Kentucky


Keep plants thinned well. for runners – snip off well established runners and transplant close by.  I plant to the east since that is the natural direction of new growth. if you have runners, but have trouble getting them root established (the just get lanky) pin them to the ground just before the new crown.

For ever-bearing type – snip all first spring flowers; for June type and second flowering on ever-bearing type – when fruits start to mature snip all small flowers and small fruit , leave only 3 – 5 fruits per plant , helps produce a bushy habit and better fruit. snip back all flowers new crowns.

Water under plants and not over – helps with fertilization & to prevent mildew. i try not to water a day or two before harvesting if i can help it.

When I do have mildew problems I immediately remove the affected plant and spray the area leaves with sulfur, also thin well when the weather will be wet for a few days. Any leaves that don’t look healthy –  snip snip.

Strawberries love acidic soil & very good drainage – I live in an area with lots of sand and pine trees, many varieties of strawberry run rampant everywhere there is good sun.

I also inter-crop with clovers – clovers are an awesome living mulch, green manure & bees love like crazy. I also plant beans nearby and inter-crop with other flowers and never plant near or after nightshade.

I mulch with both hay and stones, I prefer stone, in my area near the beach, it helps to prevent mildew and spotting problems from ocean fog.

I feed with compost tea and only weed and snip back maybe once a week during full production. Too much disruption I find can stunt growth.



Here on our farm in Southeast Kansas we’ve been raising strawberries for many years and have never felt the need to use harmful chemicals to control pests or disease. Fresh air, sunlight and good management practices do wonders! The strawberry patch started out pretty small, producing just enough berries for the family. When our son, Josh, decided to begin the adventure of CSA gardening five years ago he began to enlarge the strawberry patch so he’d have enough berries for his shareholders.

This year the 700+ row feet of strawberry beds have produced enough berries to put 1 to 2 quarts in each of his 59 shareholder’s garden shares plus have lots of extra berries to sell. The beginning of the strawberry season was wet and we were somewhat concerned with the berries molding, but God sent the sun at the right time to prevent that problem. Slugs and roly-polys were attacking the berries, causing damage. We put beer in small containers scattered throughout the beds to attract and drown the slugs as well as a product with the main ingredient being iron phosphate  – the problem is reduced to an acceptable level – no harmful chemicals needed.

It is a shame for the authorities in California to be considering allowing another harmful chemical to be used in strawberry production. So many people eat these berries and have no idea what they are ingesting. They trust the authorities to keep them safe and they are being betrayed. This should never be allowed to happen.

Deanna Mitchell



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