rinibeanApril 13, 2014

We have built three raised beds, one each for strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. The items are planted, and now I need to know what to do next. In the past, I have put mulch in a temporary bed of strawberries to keep the strawberries dry and for weed control, but this is the first year we'll be leaving the plants from year-to-year in the same bed. I've got a drip irrigation set up that will be under the mulch. The soil is topsoil and horse manure with a little peet moss.

What is the best type of mulch to use for these beds? I really don't have a trustworthy source for straw, they've all ended up growing grass in the past. So mainly I'm looking at wood chips. I may be able to round up enough pine needles for just the strawberry bed, but I'll need a wood chip option for the other berries.

And there's probably an obvious answer I'm missing to this question, but next year I assume I should be adding some manure/compost or something to "recharge" the soil. How do you add this when there's a layer of mulch on top? Should it be removed? Should I just mix the mulch into the soil and let it break down? As a sidenote, the only thing I fertilize my garden with besides the manure/compost is fish emulsion.

Thanks for your help!

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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Sounds like you're doing everything right! Yes pine straw for the strawberries! Once it settles in it stays. Usually you don't want to fertilize these in the spring. Once they flower and start producing is the time. Check out It has good info on feeding. Do you have everbearing or summer bearing? With summer bearing you feed after they fruit. You start feeding everbearing anytime, as they keep producing. Better info at site mentioned. I have both. I need to check the site too.
I put compost down for my raspberries and blackberries in the spring. I guess late fall would be ok too. I mix organic fertilizer with the compost in the spring. Also any amendments for trace minerals, like azomite, or green sand. As minerals should be added too. I rotate usually, green sand one year, azomite the next. Kelp also provides trace minerals. Rock phosphate , lava sand or other mineral sources can be used also.

With pine straw you can add compost right on top and put a fresh layer on. But I remove most, and with wood chips, yes slide them to the side add compost and put them back.
You really do not want mulch in the soil as they require nitrogen to breakdown and may rob the plant of needed food. You can add extra nitrogen to remedy too. Apparently on the surface it not a big deal. Not sure I get that? But that is the general consensus.

For raspberries and blackberries I add more organics in July, and once a month hit them with a soluble fertilizer also. They need a lot as canes are forming all year, and flowers and fruit. I may hit them Sept 1st for the last time, as fall bearing are producing.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:19AM
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I am having a lot of trouble with pine bark mulch in my strawberries.
They all develop fungus on the berries. Did not have that trouble
last year as I did not use pinebark. Not sure if pinebark is the only reason,
but be Leary?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:27PM
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I was able to round up pine needles from our property to mulch the strawberry bed and I'm hoping I can do the same with the raspberry and blackberry bed. I think I will easily be able to remove them and put them right back when I want to add amendments to the soil.

Drew, do you use any fish emulsion? Beyond compost that's all I've used before for fertilizer. But, I really don't know how much to add. I've read everywhere that it can be used, but can't seem to find direction on the amount.

Pharma, I don't have any experience with mulching around strawberries since this is our first year, but I have heard that pine needles are great for strawberries. If you don't have pine trees to pick them up from, my local nursery had pine needle bales for around $6 each. I'd never seen them sold elsewhere before, but some specialized places might offer them.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:52PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

One nursery/grower lays down straw around the plants.They say among other things,it keeps the berries clean from splashing when raining. Brady

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 10:09PM
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