what mulch for berries?

baloomyersApril 21, 2009

I recently planted blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, each in a different area of my garden. I was planning on applying composted leaf mulch to help with weeds, but some recommend different mulches for particular types of plants (such as hard wood for the blueberries). Should I expect problems if I go ahead and use the composted leaf mulch? I plan to monitor the ph of the soil with a ph meter, so I can adjust that if necessary. This is my first time planting berries, so any help will be very appreciated.

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Michael

Hi baloo; On my established rasberry beds I use dried tree leaves applied in the Fall. The Fall leaves remain there all winter for cold protection and are not removed the following Spring. On new beds, I've read not to mulch at all until about August but instead to cultivate lightly, I.E. remove the weeds without damaging the shallow raspberry roots. That is how I've managed mine and it has worked well. As far as my soil pH, it is 7.2 and well buffered so I'm not worried about over acidifying the soil with the leaves.

My blueberry try was a failure so I can't say. What is your soil texture and pH?

With June bearing strawberries I mulch them very lightly the 1st year with the same leaves. In the Fall after they are dormant, I cover them with about 8-12" of leaves and cover the leaves with bird netting otherwise the howling winter winds would remove the leaves exposing the plants. The netting also keeps my dog from turning the leaves into a toilet all winter long, YUCK! In the Spring, the leaves are almost completely removed down to the soil to allow air to circulate around the plants otherwise disease can become a problem.

Good luck,

Michael

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 4:26PM
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ericwi

Our blueberry shrubs are heavily mulched every fall with about 6 inches of shredded maple leaves. However, others have recommended shredded oak leaves, or pine needles, for blueberries, because these mulches are said to lower the pH of the soil. I have been able to lower soil pH by mixing compost with our clay soil at the time when the shrubs are put in. Also, granulated sulfur is mixed in with the soil at the same time. Since our water(tap water) is hard, that is, it contains dissolved limestone, I pre-treat our water with white vinegar before using it on the blueberries. I don't know the pH of your native soil, and I don't know if you have hard water. Therefore, I can't say that you will have to adopt the same measures to be successful with blueberries.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 11:04PM
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goodground(z6 NJ)

My ph is around 7.0 so for the blueberries I add leaves, peat, pine bark and some fertilizer.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 2:17PM
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