Mulching Strawberries

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by sleepdeficit2, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. sleepdeficit2

    sleepdeficit2 Member

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    Hi, I'm in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. We are moving our strawberries from the main garden to raised beds, mostly because the grass grows into them and every year I have to dig them out to clean out the grass.

    I have been mulching with straw each spring, but in our wet climate, the straw goes moldy and last year I paid $13.00 for a bale of straw! Apparently there isn't a local source of straw, and it gets brought in from the prairies.

    So...I was wondering if there is an alternate mulch for strawberries that works well in our wet climate, and isn't as expensive as a bale of straw.

    thanks!
    Heidi
     
  2. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Woodchips, preferably on the medium to smaller size (as opposed to the coarse shredded bark). For a large patch, you can buy it by the yard in the Comox Valley, otherwise you can buy smaller bags at local nurseries, Canadian Tire, etc....
     
  3. sleepdeficit2

    sleepdeficit2 Member

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  4. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    If you get your woochips unbagged make sure they are not cedar.
     
  5. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Nah, cedar chips are fine. The allelopathic cedar thing is just an extremely tenacious, self-propagating myth: the buttercup of local gardening lore.
     
  6. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    OK. That's your experience.

    Mine is that various plants in my garden did not thrive & a few died when I used cedar chippings as mulch, including strawberries. Commercially, I believe that the blueberry farmers avoid cedar sawdust/chips also - please correct me if I am wrong.
     
  7. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Hear you on that. I'm not just referring to my experience (though I do mulch extensively with chips, and-depending on what my friend is milling at the time-use cedar with no ill effects), just type 'cedar mulch myth' or some such, and you'll find numerous sources. There just doesn't seem to be, biochemically speaking, any substance in cedar that inhibits growth when used as a mulch. If it were truly allelopathic, I can't see how one's experience using it would vary from garden to garden as much as it does.

    One source does suggest (and I suspect, on account of the discrepancy) that cedar mulch is often circumstantially indicted in situations where other factors are the culprit, however. Seems to be the only explanation that plausibly accounts for such a variance in anecdotal accounts...

    Don't know about what the commercial growers are using in the valley, but it doesn't alter the biochemical truth of the matter: farmers, by and large, have to be conservative, and tend to go with what has already been shown to work, alternatives be damned (unless it saves money). The relative (and increasing) scarcity of red cedar mills and hence chips vis-a-vis fir might simply mean that they use whatever's cheap and abundant.
     

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