Hi all! Having a conundrum and was hoping someone out there in the wild could solve this problem for me. The situation: I have fruiting perennials and fruit trees (namely blueberries, currants, josta, strawberries, grapes, rosemary, peach and cherry trees in a bed) I want to keep the weeds away, and from everything I've read, it's a good idea to mulch. One to keep weeds away, two to conserve moisture, three to stop soil erosion. I find the light coloured wood chips used on the blueberry fields around here attractive, and would like to do so on this part of my garden. I hear that it's good for the pH of the blueberries too. However. I interplant below the bushes, and beside the 'border' of strawberries (that is taking over, but I don't mind) with seasonal crops (namely carrots, snowpeas, lettuce, onions, beets) Space is at a premium - I have a 20 ft x 5 ft bed. I could make more room, but it's my front yard, so I have to stay somewhat within the 'planting code' of my area. I plan to expand in the future, but I want to conquer the first bed before screwing up my whole front yard! I have a black thumb and am compensating by nerding out and reading everything and anything on the subject of edible landscaping/urban edibles/food forestry/small space gardening/etc etc. It seemed to work: My last years' harvest showed an 85% survival rate (not bad!) and I had so much produce from the little space that my two kids and I wagon-ed it up to the local grocery store and sold it :) So. Dirt seems good, compost works, and it seems we found some things that we can grow. The questions: -Mulch with the light coloured wood chips or not? -And if so, and my plants need a 'top up' of organic material, what do I do? Top up over TOP of the nice mulch? Then re-mulch? Or does the rain take the dirt/poop/compost through the mulch, leaving it all nice and 'clean' again? -What if they need fertilizing of certain materials? -- I'm cheap and organic, so really I have compost or manure or straw or compost as my fertilizing options. -Am I somehow supposed to peel away the mulch to add certain components to the soil? -I realize that the seasonal crops take away certain nutrients from the soil...do the fruiting shrubs/trees? -If the mulch is in the way, how can I test the soil to see what the plants need? -Stuff the seasonal crops, you're messing up the happy lives of your fruiting shrubs/trees? I'm probably jamming way too many things in my little space, but so far things seem to be co-habitating nicely. (Heading into 3rd season) I just want to make it ok for all the plants. I don't care so much about ridiculous yields, but we want the variety and the girls LOVE the crop planting so that they can watch their own handiwork grow. We're inspired by Rosalind Creasy's garden images, and she has tonnes of stuff in all together...we want that, only in our front yard in Langley, with things that we eat. So. Thanks for reading. DO get back to me if you have answers. Planning THE HARVEST OF 2010!