For a good harvest: mulch berry bushes


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If you want to harvest juicy raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and redcurrants during the summer, you should take care to provide the plants with sufficient nutrients and humus. Berry bushes love humus-rich, loose soil, which is evenly moist throughout the year. In their natural environment, the delicious berries grow mostly on forest edges, where the natural litter layer warms and protects the soil. In the garden, the site conditions are usually different. Therefore, it is advisable to mulch the berry bushes every year.

Straw-mulched raspberry bed

Straw-mulched raspberry bed

What does the mulch do?

Berry bushes are flat-rooters - that means their fine roots and creeping shoots are located just below the earth's surface. Therefore, they are particularly sensitive to wind and weather as well as common ground care work such as hoes. Since the shallow roots do not penetrate into deeper earth layers, berry shrubs are latently vulnerable to drought, especially in summer. A mulch layer inhibits the evaporation of the soil and protects it from wind and erosion. In addition, the mulch improves the humus supply and thus the storage capacity of the earth for water and nutrients through the slow decomposition.
The mulch layer also inhibits weed growth, which means we have less weeding. It is important that you refill the mulch layer with organic material every year, because this simulates the natural leaf fall in the forest provides for humus replenishment. In addition, the roots of the berry bushes grow upwards, as in the case of many forest plants: they penetrate piece by piece into the upper layers of crude humus, as the nutrient supply is greatest here.

Mulch from shredded garden waste

Chopped garden waste of healthy plants can be usefully used as a mulch

When is mulching?

The first approximately five centimeters high mulch layer should be spread together with a load of compost in the spring. It is advisable to wait with the mulching until the ice sacs, so that the soil is already warm enough to absorb the nutrients well. If mulched earlier, the mulch may prevent soil warming, which may inhibit plant growth. Depending on the mulch material is then mulled again in midsummer. A third load of mulch can be given to the berry bushes in autumn as the last humus ration and frost protection.

The right mulch for berry bushes

There are a variety of mulch materials, but not all are suitable for berry bushes such as gooseberry, raspberry and blackberry. Especially the universally popular bark mulch is not the first choice when mulching berry bushes, as it can bind nitrogen in the soil and thus inhibit the growth of the plants. Anyone who still wants to work with bark mulch should sprinkle a few handfuls of horn chips before mulching to compensate for the loss of nitrogen in the soil. Composted bark, grass clippings, shredded shrubs, as well as leaves and straw are more suitable for mulching berry bushes.

Berry bushes in a bucket with mulch

Even with berry bushes that grow in the box or bucket, the substrate should be covered with mulch

Berries mulch: You have to pay attention

When using grass clippings, make sure that as few seeds as possible are contained in wildflowers and weeds, as otherwise they will soon sprout in the berry bed. Spread the grass, which should ideally already be slightly dry, loosely with your hands or a forard around the berry bushes. The mulch layer should not be thicker than three to five centimeters, as the grass easily collapses, blocks the exchange of air and then rots in the lower layers. Renew the grass layer regularly or mix the grass with shredded shrubs before mulching to achieve a more airy structure. If you use shredded shrubs to mulch currants, raspberries or blackberries, make sure that no shoots or leaves infected with fungus or disease get into the mulch. Otherwise diseases could spread quickly in the bed.

Strawberries with straw as mulch

Strawberry plants feel most comfortable on a bed of straw

Straw, which is particularly suitable for mulching strawberries, should be well threshed so that no grain germinates in the bed. The straw keeps the soil around the strawberries nice and warm. - If the fruits stay dry and have no direct earth contact, they are less prone to gray mold (botrytis). But beware: even straw binds nitrogen, so you should first provide the strawberries with a good portion of horn shavings or organic berry fertilizer. Also, remove the weeds from all mulchers before mulching.

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