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!