Tips for Mulching Fruit Trees

Tips for Mulching Fruit Trees
by Don Keller

It is possible to mulch all the ground where strawberries are growing with medium grade sedge peat to the depth of at least an inch. This should be applied immediately after planting in August, and if the soil and the weather are dry, it is as well to soak the peat thoroughly first. No cultivations are then done because the peat smothers the annual weeds and prevents them from growing. (No gardener will, of course, plant strawberries on land where there are perennial weeds.) Because the worms will pull some of the sedge peat into the ground, a further application may be necessary the following April or early May, the idea being to keep the level of the peat at about an inch.

The bushes are fed through the straw. A fish manure with a 5 per cent potash content will be given at 4 oz. to the sq. yard, say, in February, and a second application at a similar rate immediately the fruit has been picked. The straw is not disturbed when the organic fertilizer is applied: this is allowed to wash through naturally when it rains.

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The result is, the roots of the canes and bushes are able to develop in the top few inches of soil where there is the biggest bacterial activity. Because they are never disturbed by hoeing or forking, they are extremely happy, with the result that very heavy crops of particularly well-flavored fruit are produced.

With strawberries things are a little different. It is not easy to use such a great depth of straw because the plants then tend to be smothered. Sedge peat is the ideal alternative and should be applied all over the soil to the depth of an inch. This means not only just round the plants themselves, but in between the rows as well.

The sedge peat keeps the strawberries clean as they ripen, and, like the straw, it ensures that the roots of the plants get all the moisture they need.

I must stress this regular cutting and the non- carting away of the mowing, for during a damp summer it may mean mowing eighteen or nineteen times from the beginning of May to the end of October – and perhaps more. Once again, the regular mechanical mowing saves hoeing, forking, weeding and the like. The organic fertilizers needed can be applied each January or February and subsequent doses given in the summer if the leaves seem to indicate that this is necessary.

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