Answer: Cover your strawberries (as you have done) with straw or hay to provide insulation; it's best to do this mulching after the ground freezes hard. When you start seeing some new growth (as in the leaves you mention in your question) and all danger of ahard frost is past, then remove the straw or hay from your strawberries. If you remove it too early and think you'll get a frost, then at night, cover the bed with a floating row cover for protection. Although the plants themselves are pretty hardy, the blossoms are tender, and if you have no blossoms, you have no fruit! Following the above practices should help to prevent frost damage. Your strawberries will certainly appreciate a boost of organic material and fertilizer. When the weather getsconsistently warm and the plants start actively growing, apply a topdressing of compost and even a little cottonseed meal or 10-10-10 fertilizer. Water it in well. Keep in mind as well that strawberries need a regular supply of water, especially when the fruits are enlarging. Be prepared to water several times a week during a dry or particularly hot spell, especially at Virginia Beach!
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