I love strawberries, especially straight from my garden. I love knowing exactly what has gone into my strawberries and knowing that a bunch of chemicals and pesticides weren’t included. However, I am not the only living thing in my yard who loves strawberries, and despite my great efforts to keep the larger garden-eaters away, I have yet to find a fence which can keep ants out. After much research and some trial and error, I have developed an entirely green method of keeping them from eating my fruit: Mint.
Ants use scent to find their way around, this is why when you see a lot of ants, they are all lined up one-by-one, following a scent trail. If the ant’s scent gets confused, or overwhelmed, they can get lost and disoriented. Mint has a very strong scent and the leaves don’t degrade too quickly after being picked, so it is a good choice for this use.
This process begins as soon as my strawberries start putting out blooms and lasts until the last berry is picked. Fair warning: this will not get rid of ants once they find your strawberries! All this will do is keep them from finding them–if the ants know there is food to be had they will power through the mint. This is a preventative, not a cure. It will overwhelm the ant’s sense of smell and keep them from wanting to explore the strawberry patch, so you have to start early.
For this you will need a lot of mint–I established a mint patch in a shady area in my chicken yard. The chicken’s don’t eat it, and the mint is hardy enough to take the chicken’s scratching around it. I use Sweet Mint, because I also like it in tea. Every weekend from the time my strawberries start blooming, I harvest a handful of mint leaves and rip each leaf in two, to release maximum scent.
For blooms, I just stick the mint leaves around the strawberry plant, wedging them between the stalks so they wont blow away. Once the fruit begins to form, I use the fruit itself to weigh the mint leaves down.
Above is a ripening fruit without mint, below is the same fruit with a few mint leaves resting under it. Every fruit and bloom I see gets a mint leaf. Any extra mint I brought over gets stuck somewhere in the plant.
The mint leaves last a full week, so this has become a part of my weekend routine. This method is labor-intensive, but the results are fully organic, chemical and pesticide free strawberries! What could be better than that?