Sunday, June 10, 2007

Strawberry Mystery Solved!

The last three years my strawberries have been having problems. Every spring they would start to grow, but then the leaves would turn yellow, and the plants would begin to die. I tried varying the amount of water, and different types of all purpose fertilizer, but neither seemed to have an effect. I verified that the pH balance of the soil was acceptable. It checked in at between 6.5 and 7 which is good. I considered that it might be some sort of blight, but wasn't convinced because the nearby grapes seemed to have a similar (but less severe) condition. I doubted that a blight would impact two different plant species in the same way. In the end I found the answer on a Utah State web page. It was iron deficiency.

To fix the issue they recommended applying liquid chelated iron fertilizer. Regular iron fertilizer won't work, because the plants are unable to absorb it. Chelated fertilizer comes from organic sources, and is easier for the plants to absorb. After 3 applications of fertilizer over the last six weeks, I have seen a definite improvement in both the strawberries and grapes.

So finally I'm getting a few strawberries to eat this year. Unfortunately, the new problem is that the birds are beating me to most of them. Next year I'm going to have to set up something to keep 'em out of the patch.

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