Erik’s strawberries with grass clippings between the rows to prevent the berries from getting dirty, for weed control and to prevent the moisture from evaporating. (Erik Jacobsen photo)

No straw? Maybe try some grass clippings among the strawberry rows

Erik dishes advice on strawberries, irises and weeding

Have you ever wondered why those berries are called Strawberries? This was what I was told to call them after I emigrated from Denmark.

Fifty years ago, straw was laid between the strawberry rows to prevent the berries from getting dirty, for weed control and to prevent the moisture from evaporating. So why is it not done here? Perhaps it is because straw is not that available?

The other day I was offered a pile of grass clippings that I spread on top of the vegetable garden. A week later, the grass, now completely dry, got me thinking, why not spread some between the strawberry rows?

Most strawberries you find in stores do not have those great smells and flavours. Those berries were picked before they were fully ripened, packed in a cold warehouse, and shipped out.

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Marigold companion plants, for the carrots, prevent The rust fly from laying eggs.

The iris. You might say this is something unique by itself. It is a very bountiful flower, both in the garden and a great gift as a bouquet to a friend.

Because of its uniqueness, irises should be in a flower bed by themselves. I have, on several occasions, met folks who told me they could not get their irises to bloom. When I asked, “how did you plant it”? The answer would be, “like everything else.”

The iris grows from a thick, rootlike structure called a rhizome and must be planted in a flower bed with full sun. Plant them a minimum of 16 to 18 inches apart. If they are in shade, they might not bloom.

When you are preparing the flower bed, make sure to remove all weeds, as it is nearly impossible to do the weeding when the Iris is established. When planting, be sure the soil is very loose, then press the tuber into the soil. Do not cover.

Weeding. One question has come to me over the years “how can this job be made simpler?”

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Weeds such as chickweed, shepherd’s purse, and quack-grass, also commonly known as couch grass, twitch grass, quick grass, scutch grass, and devil’s grass.

The quack grass you can recognize by its long white roots with a pointed end. This weed is a widespread and severe weed in Canada and can even penetrate a potato.

Some people have used landscape fabric to eradicate the weed, but it will not do the job because this weed will grow right through it. I make sure to remove the roots with my weeding tool, then tossed them on the lawn.

The same for the chickweed. Perhaps it looks unsightly, but after the lawnmower has run over them, they become “see-me-no-more.” If those two weeds are left on top of any dirt, even in a pile, they will begin growing again.

Especially chickweed will spread their seeds and if allowed to, can completely take over your flower bed and choke out the bedding plants.

If you have questions or suggestions for topics, please email me at

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