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Can mock strawberry help build soil?

 
pollinator
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Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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I've gone from about a half acre of dense English ivy and poison ivy under mostly pines to cleared area that's been lightly mulched with cardboard, leaves, and woodchips, now rotting away, leaving some bare ground. Mock strawberry is what naturally wanted to cover this ground, and it's been very helpful to me in keeping weeds knocked back as I work on sections of the garden. But it's a big job for a little old lady like me who has no help.

I've been encouraging the mock strawberry to take over areas and even digging and moving some of it into pathways. I have questions:

1. What effect will this boisterous groundcover have on my soil?

2. Will smothering sections of it under cardboard or black tarp kill it if I decided to do that? To advantage?

3. Is there any reason why other deeper-rooted plants cannot be planted directly into ground covered with mock strawberry?

4. Is there any benefit to bees and other beneficial insects and wasps of mock strawberry?

I am in zone 8a, and so far the patches of mock strawberry are behaving like an evergreen in the winter, which is a win for me. They are also very nice to walk on, but they do spread quickly. I know Potentilla indica has some value as being edible and medicinal, although I'm sure I won't need a whole yard full of it. My gut is telling me to let nature have its way and let this plant run, but I keep seeing that word "invasive" and it gives me pause.

Advice?

 
pollinator
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When I lived a bit north of you  in zone 7a (Washington DC), mock strawberry always present in lawns, but never really dominant; it seems to me that it plays well with deeper-rooted grasses and groundcovers and is not aggressive or difficult to get rid of if you decide to put in something else.

I don't know any specifics about this plant as far as soil-building, but since it is a shallow-rooted low-growing plant, I would view it as mostly a "living mulch" anchoring and shading the topsoil, but not really bringing any deep nutrients to the surface.
 
Mk Neal
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To your fourth question, it does get flowers and fruit which could be of interest to beneficial visitors. My college roommate had a pet turtle that would eat the mock strawberry fruit.  Tastes like wet paper to me.
 
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Location: MD, USA. zone 7
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It is a volunteer ground-cover in some of my beds. It spreads easily and doesn't seem to choke the plants I want to keep while suppressing weed starts. The yellow flowers do draw in bees. The (flavorless to me) fruit does seem very attractive to chipmunks and tortoises.

I've never tried smothering it. When I want it gone from somewhere, I just grab and pull. Hand, gardening fork, etc. The roots are shallow, it comes out easy. I clear the immediate area before planting deeper rooted small perennials out of habit, so I don't know if it'd give them problems settling in. I will often rake it away from the bases of my returning plants with a rake before I put down compost.

 
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Diane, I can understand how the word "invasive" is scary.

Look at my signature for my opinion of invasives.

This might also help:

Jay said "The new wild : why invasive species will be nature's salvation by Fred Pearce  He makes a strong case for invasive plants invading because the ecosystem is out of balance due to human activity



https://permies.com/t/134666/Native-prof-Don-fight-invasive#1054905
 
Diane Kistner
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Anne Miller wrote:Diane, I can understand how the word "invasive" is scary.

Look at my signature for my opinion of invasives.

This might also help:

Jay said "The new wild : why invasive species will be nature's salvation by Fred Pearce  He makes a strong case for invasive plants invading because the ecosystem is out of balance due to human activity



https://permies.com/t/134666/Native-prof-Don-fight-invasive#1054905




Stephen Herrod Buhner values invasives, so I've tried to keep an open mind. Thanks for posting this Fred Pearce article! Going to read it now.

Thanks, everyone, who has answered so far. I'm feeling encouraged that I'm doing the right thing, not the wrong thing.


 
Anne Miller
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Wow, you recognized the author of those quotes!

 
Diane Kistner
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Anne Miller wrote:Wow, you recognized the author of those quotes!



Actually, I just now looked at your signature line.... I've acquired six of his books over the years, the latest his Herbal Antivirals one. Which are your favorites, Anne?
 
Anne Miller
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I have Herbal Antibiotics.  

The only other herb book that I have is by Phyllis Bach called Prescription for Herbal Healing.

Both are really good ones to have especially with what is going on though I have not looked through them lately.
 
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I'm interested in this question because we've had a lot of mock strawberry growing this year too, but in my pasture. It looks okay as a ground cover but the problem is the goats don't eat it, so I'd rather have something growing that they will eat! Never really thought about it as a soil builder. I just know nature likes diversity and figure this is one way it tries to achieve it.
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