The TikTok Strawberry Gardening Advice To Avoid At All Costs

Strawberries are one of the sweetest parts of summer, and many home gardeners look forward to plucking their juicy berries right off of the plant. It comes as no surprise, then, that finding your hard-earned berries half-eaten by bugs is truly disheartening (to say the least). Even if you know how to properly grow and care for a strawberry plant, those red berries drooping toward the ground as they become heavier is unavoidable. One TikTok channel has a tip that, although it seems clever on the surface, should not be replicated in your strawberry garden.

TikTok user @mindandsoil has created a video offering a tip that they swear will help you grow bigger strawberries, untouched by greedy bugs and microorganisms.The hack? Using strips of hardware cloth, bent in two places, to create an elevated table to rest your strawberries on, which will lift them from the soil and prevent any bugs from feasting. Despite seeming ingenious, utilizing hardware cloth in the context of produce that you'll later eat is not as safe as it seems.

Why hardware cloth and strawberries shouldn't be mixed

You might not initially notice the problem posed by mixing strawberries with hardware cloth — after all, it does solve the problem of your berries being munched on by undeserving insects. It also, however, presents a new issue altogether: contaminants. Hardware cloth is made from metals that are prone to corrosion and rusting, which could speed up its demise. Due to its susceptibility to damage from the elements, hardware cloth is coated in substances — such as zinc and lead — that can protect its lifespan and performance. 

Unfortunately for this hack that would keep your fresh strawberries safe in the garden, letting your fruit sit atop of zinc-coated wire (while it may keep them safe from bugs) can result in your fruit becoming contaminated with harmful substances and unsafe to consume. Especially since strawberries are eaten in their entirety and do not have a peel that you can remove, growing them in safe conditions is of the utmost importance. An additional challenge with this tip is that it might actually make it easier for larger pests (birds, squirrels, and the like) to nab the juicy berries from the elevated wire platform.

Safer alternatives for healthy strawberries

While the specifics of this TikTok strawberry hack fall flat, there is some value in the principle of providing a buffer between berry and ground (just not if that buffer is coated with contaminants). One all-natural option for keeping your precious berries safe from bugs is hidden in their name. Traditionally, straw has been used to provide a comfortable bed that strawberries can grow on top of. In addition to keeping the berries off of the soil and away from bugs, straw can also provide all-natural weed control.

If you're a fan of gadgets to aid you in your produce garden, consider purchasing strawberry supports from an online retailer or gardening center. Easy to assemble, these dainty plastic tables have long legs that will elevate your strawberry plants and protect them from rot and insects. If you're looking for another easy and safe method for keeping pests at bay, try sprinkling diatomaceous earth around your strawberry plants. This naturally occurring fine powder is generally harmless to humans, but can do real damage to slimy slugs and other bugs that may try to crawl through the soil to reach your delicious produce.