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Strawberries in wood chips

 
pollinator
Posts: 328
Location: Zone 8b Portland
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How capable are strawberry plants at pushing through mulch? Should I mulch around them or just bury them in the fall and expect they’ll push through it?
 
Posts: 386
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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I do not speak from experience, so take this with a grain of chemical fertilizer.  Oh, garden humor.....  :)

I've watched a lot of Paul Gauchi's "Back to Eden" (by Live 2 Survive I think is the channel on youtube).  I do recall him saying that the weaker (less desirable) plants get smothered, and the stronger younger plants generally make it through with no problem.  

I'll find the video and post it if you don't get an answer....which for sure there will be way better answers from people who've actually done it.  I don't always find Paul's way work in my climate/region, so there's that too.
 
Chris Holcombe
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Ok that’s good to know. The runners are mostly what I’m wondering about. They’re pretty low against the ground and I’m wondering if I’ll smother them if they’re covered. I’d like them to spread ideally :-)
 
Joshua Bertram
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I'm impatient.

:)



Good luck!
 
pollinator
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Location: Denmark 57N
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When I put straw over strawberries in preparation for fruit I do it in spring before the leaves come up. I put it on 2-3 inches deep and they come through it no problem.
 
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Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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We mulch with straw and only around the plants not over the top of them.

Here is a suggestion for cold winters but again with straw, not wood chips.

Strawberry plants are mulched once or twice a year for two very important reasons. In climates with cold winters, mulch is heaped over strawberry plants in late fall or early winter to protect the plant’s root and crown from the cold and extreme temperature fluctuations. Chopped up straw is normally used to mulch strawberries. This mulch is then removed in early spring. After the plants have leafed out in spring, many farmers and gardeners choose to add another thin layer of fresh straw mulch under and around the plants.



I don't think I would put wood chips over the plants as it would be hard to remove and I don't think the plants would push through.  We were always told to carefully plant them where the top of the crown was above the soil a little, not buried, because they can easily rot....we have really wet seasons though and moderately cold winters.  The berries themselves would rot without the straw between them and the soil.
 
Joshua Bertram
Posts: 386
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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Probably should have posted this yesterday.  Here's what I'm trying, these just got planted from bare roots about two weeks ago.  I put plastic cups around all the crowns (which were completely dormant).  Then I mulched heavily with fall leaves completely surrounding the cups.  They started to come out of dormancy a few days later, then a few days later it was forecast to get into the high teens F so I covered them with palm fronds to keep them insulated.  Every morning they've been in the ground it has been below freezing.  I took this picture this morning.  You can see the frost around the cups.  Not sure if it's a good idea because they're getting leggy, but it's certainly helping them to get established quicker (I think).  It's very hot and dry where I live, so I'm trying to get ahead of the hot weather which will hit in June.  

The same thing could be done with wood chips.

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pollinator
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Not sure about wood chips but every fall I collect the leaves that my neighbors bag and set out in the trash. I usually dump about a foot of leaves right over the top of my strawberries. They seem to love it. I haven't killed them yet and some of the plants are green all through the winter. They grow tall with large green leaves in the summer, and are loaded with fruit which the birds enjoy!
 
pollinator
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I’ve had no success with deep wood chips and strawberry. Even now with the mulch maybe 3” they grow only outside the bed. They are shallow rooting plants and need minerals would be my suspicion. I’ve killed 300 so far and decided to call it quits. Plus the squirrels and box turtles get all of them.
 
gardener
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Chris, TJ,

I wonder if you can get those woodchips working if you can get them rotting.  I am thinking that if you can get some soil biology working that maybe the minerals and nutrients will transfer better.

I used to look at soil as a bunch of chemicals with a little bit of biology thrown in.  I now see soil as a bunch of biology with a little bit chemistry.  I used to use woodchips as a dressing for the soil.  It was helpful and certainly kept the soil moistures moderated, but it wasn’t until I really introduced soil biota (in my case wine cap mushrooms) that my soil fertility really took off.

I am thinking that properly inoculated woodchips or almost any organic mulch for that matter would inject the necessary biology to feed your strawberries and your soil at the same time.  The more familiar I become with my mushroom projects, the more the lines between soil and mulch blur.  For your strawberries, I would suggest going ahead and use the woodchips but make those lines blur even more; turn those chips into soil.

I hope this is helpful and please let me know what you think.

Eric

 
Eric Hanson
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Chris,

Another thought about strawberries & woodchips.  If you decided to pile on the woodchips 6 inches or more, perhaps you could lay down a nice thick layer of chips, dig out little holes where you want strawberries and backfill with a nice topsoil/manure/compost etc and then plant strawberries in the fertile hole.  As the woodchips break down they will gradually feed the strawberries.

Let me know what you think.

Eric
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
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Eric, these chips are 3 years old and have avidly growing mushrooms. I think mulch depth is the issue.
 
Eric Hanson
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Gotcha TJ,

I was under the impression that they were fresh chips.  I probably just didn’t read clearly.

Eric
 
pollinator
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I've successfully planted strawberries as following:
Cover ground with cardboard
Plonk strawberries in the right places. Two handfuls of compost auld each plant
Fill gaps with wood chip
Done.
 
Posts: 613
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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Joshua Bertram wrote:I'm impatient.

:)



Good luck!

i believe him that this would work but like he said in the vid ,the key is to just cover them and not pile it too thick. i use wood chips even around my veggies in the garden and i lightly cover planted seeds with wood chips and they easily push thru it but i only cover with maybe 1/2in. of light stuff with no bigger pieces. helps keep moisture around the plants and breaks down completely by fall when i turn it into the soil.
 
pollinator
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I have had great success growing strawberries with a similar method to the Gautchi video. My modification is to do it on top of hugel beds due to our high water table in winter with 5-10" rain events. I also only put 3-6" of chips on top (he mentions up to 18" but I don't have that much freely available), and almost always these have been used as chicken bedding before doing so. I put them on in the late fall-early spring (November-March here).

The main thing that most seem to miss about the "back to eden method" is the woodchips getting "processed" by his chickens first. This is almost always skipped by those I see having problems with the deep woodchip approach, but is integral to its success in my observation. Its a great example of function stacking. I am also in a similar maritime NW climate to his, so this may have something to do with my success with applying some of his basic principles for soil building, but I do get the best strawberries around according to many who've tasted them, and I get them from April-November and they hardly need water (they will survive without but produce more with an inch/month of drip line watering within the mulch).
 
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Location: PNW Columbia Gorge
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Chris Holcombe wrote:How capable are strawberry plants at pushing through mulch? Should I mulch around them or just bury them in the fall and expect they’ll push through it?


They will push through and spread like crazy. My food forest area is totally covered with june bearing strawberry. I planted them last spring.
gift
 
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