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Growing Mulberries with Natural Plant Nursery

 
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I wanted to make this thread to help me keep track of and document my mulberry trees.

Hopefully it can be helpful to others also!
 
Steve Thorn
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This is a young Illinois Everbearing mulberry tree that was planted this past fall.

It is growing pretty quickly and has a few mulberries on it, but I plan to pluck them off so it can put more energy into growing this year!

Is anyone else growing mulberries? What are your favorite varieties?
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Baby mulberry!
 
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I collected mulberry cuttings from across the us on my way home from Florida.  Amazing the different characteristics from state to state and tree to tree. I grafted them all on to a seedling tree here at my farm in Michigan to see what takes. I have cuttings from a tree at a rest stop in Kentucky that had long mulberries like a Pakistan variety, but it was growing wild along a fence.
 
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I planted exclusively Morus Alba.   Two years ago I planted two tiny bare-root cuttings that got hammered the first winter and died back to the ground.  I cut them back to the ground and they exploded that spring.  About a week ago I checked the wood and they didn't have much die-back.  The two are over 6 ft tall, no fruit though.  

I purchased these trees from a guy on Etsy.

Last fall I planted 10 Morus Alba from Akiva at Twisted Tree Farm.   Most of these are in a nursery bed but I did plant a few out on a chip mound. These were tiny bare-root trees.    Following is Akiva's description of his Mulberries.  It has some good information.   If you haven't planted bush cherries yet you should check them out.  I planted 4 plants of different varieties, they are on their own roots and are flowering prolifically a good way to get some diversity and they are supposed to be a very reliable way of getting fruit.

............................................
Mulberries are incredible trees that can provide overly abundant food for people, wildlife, and livestock. With blueberries, cherries, and many other fruits, birds will often strip bushes clean-not so with the mulberry. They produce such copious amounts of fruit that there are always enough of the delicious berries to go around. Mulberries are capable of producing ripe fruit all summer long. They are sure to attract many, many birds. Orioles especially love them, and so do Kids.

The berries are good fresh, dried, or made into jams. They are an excellent tree to plant in a poultry yard or livestock pasture. They are not picky and will grow just about anywhere, but will really thrive in rich soils. Mulberries love manure.

Seedlings are unsexed. They can be male or female. Only a female is necessary for fruit. A male present nearby will ensure that the fruit of the female trees have viable seeds.

The advantages to seedlings are that they provide genetic diversity and are much cheaper so they are more easily planted in large numbers.

Our mulberries are grown from locally gathered seeds and are well adapted to upstate NY's climate. They can sometimes be as big as 50-60 feet tall, though 30 feet is a more typical mature height and width. Tolerant of shade, but will produce better in sun.

The seedlings we offer are Morus alba, they may produce white or dark fruit. Morus rubra, the native species is actually a very rare tree. Many nurseries offer it, but the truth is that almost all of them are actually selling misidentified morus alba. In the past we offered morus rubra, until we learned that our seed sources, along with just about everyone else's is actually Morus alba or hybrids of the two species.

Note on the small seedlings: Field planted they will often be lost to weeds, but if they are given another year in a well-tended bed, they can be robust 3-6ft trees or they can be fine field planted if watered and weeded.


.................

Twisted Tree Farm, Upstate New York.
 
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I have an old one 25 ft tall that has been on the property since before I moved here. Not sure of the species, but it tastes fantastic, and my chickens love it.

Because it's old (and huge part of it fell off in a storm two years ago!), I've started clones of it this spring, and have also dug up a mulberry tree that sprouted from a bird dropping it in a garden bed. I intend to plant a small grove of the mulberries around my chicken coop, to provide summer shade and tasty treats for the chickens.
 
Steve Thorn
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Dan Allen wrote:I collected mulberry cuttings from across the us on my way home from Florida.



That's awesome Dan!

Amazing the different characteristics from state to state and tree to tree. I grafted them all on to a seedling tree here at my farm in Michigan to see what takes. I have cuttings from a tree at a rest stop in Kentucky that had long mulberries like a Pakistan variety, but it was growing wild along a fence.



I've been amazed by all the differences too that I've seen so far like you mentioned, the berry shapes, the leaf shapes, the times they break dormancy, it's neat to see all the variation.

The Illinois mulberry above broke dormancy almost three weeks ago, and another variety that is supposed to a warmer climate variety is still dormant, and I thought it would be the opposite, really interesting plants!
 
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Scott Foster wrote:I planted exclusively Morus Alba.   Two years ago I planted two tiny bare-root cuttings that got hammered the first winter and died back to the ground.  I cut them back to the ground and they exploded that spring.  About a week ago I checked the wood and they didn't have much die-back.  The two are over 6 ft tall, no fruit though.



That's awesome Scott, sounds like you might have some mulberries this year!

Last fall I planted 10 Morus Alba... These were tiny bare-root trees.



I think most of mine are Morus Alba x Morus Rubra hybrids, which broke dormancy a lot earlier than the one Morus Alba I have, which is still dormant. In my area, it seems like the hybrids break dormancy at a more normal time here compared with other plants.

I think it's neat how the seedlings can have either all male or female flowers and be totally new varieties. The ones I have are all named varieties, which I've heard usually have both male and female flowers on one tree, which is kind of cool too. I hope to have a mix eventually!

If you haven't planted bush cherries yet you should check them out.  I planted 4 plants of different varieties, they are on their own roots and are flowering prolifically a good way to get some diversity and they are supposed to be a very reliable way of getting fruit.



I haven't planted any bush cherries, but have been looking into getting some recently. Do you have any varieties you recommend?
 
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Jamin Grey wrote:I have an old one 25 ft tall that has been on the property since before I moved here. Not sure of the species, but it tastes fantastic, and my chickens love it.



That's really neat Jamin!

Because it's old (and huge part of it fell off in a storm two years ago!), I've started clones of it this spring, and have also dug up a mulberry tree that sprouted from a bird dropping it in a garden bed. I intend to plant a small grove of the mulberries around my chicken coop, to provide summer shade and tasty treats for the chickens.



I like making clones too, it's always nice to have a backup!

It'll be neat to see how the new seedling turns out, very cool.

I've heard mulberries are a great chicken treat!
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:
I've heard mulberries are a great chicken treat!



They go crazy for it! My freerange layer birds have their poop turns purple for about a month every year.

Mulberry trees are such heavy producers, the single tree nearly covers the ground in berries for several weeks straight.

One of the funnest things I've done is start and raise a batch of meat chickens in their brooder, directly under the tree during mulberry season. Straight out of the mailing crate, the chickens were gobbling up mulberries they could barely even fit in their beak. Probably the healthiest batch of birds I've done; unfortunately, I now do my meat birds much earlier (or much later) in the year to avoid the summer heat stress on them, so the meat birds always miss mulberry season.
 
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Here's a cool site that discusses how mulberries are a 'taxonomic mess' https://www.growingmulberry.org/identification
I enjoy the fact that the author offers to help you identify your species of mulberry, free of charge.  I am endlessly, pleasantly surprised at the kindness of plant folk.  

I was gifted two Mulberry trees, Morus nigra (semi-confident on that id... I think I'll send a sample to the aforementioned person)

My trees will root from hardwood cuttings.  If anyone is interested and lives near the bay area of CA, or wants to arrange postage I will send you some (I don't think there is a quarantine on mulberry, like we have on mailing citrus)
The berries are smallish (not a long-form, like the Pakistan Mulberry), and taste exactly like blackberries.  They are so good, my kids wait impatiently while I reach up and grab a top branch to bend down and we pluck all the berries they can grab.  The branches are long and flexible, but the tree is young, maybe 5 years old.  We get berries in three main crops, when they start to come on we will be daily visiting the trees for about 2 weeks, although we have had them dry and drop off during a dry spell.  The chickens hop to get the low hanging fruit.  These trees are some of my favorite, they are aggressively healthy and planted on the mound below our swale.  

The wood is (reportedly) good for carving.

Did you know - 'Mulberry is usually associated with sericulture, the domestication of mulberry started several thousands of years ago as a requirement for silkworm rearing.'
Mulberry and its potential for animal feeding: http://www.fao.org/3/x9895E/x9895e00.htm#Contents

Mulberry and your health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5981255/

I'll take some photos when the berries are ripe!
 
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Annie Daellenbach wrote:The wood is (reportedly) good for carving.



I use it regularly when grilling, to add a little smokey flavor which greatly improves whatever I'm cooking, as well as for fully-smoking poultry.
 
Scott Foster
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"I haven't planted any bush cherries, but have been looking into getting some recently. Do you have any varieties you recommend?"

Hi Steve.  I can't attest to the actual fruit on these but both are tart cherries.   I planted Hansen's Bush Cherry good for zones 3-8, cold hardy and partially self-pollinating (you get a better fruit-load with more than one.)  The Hansen cherries won't pollinate other varieties.

I also planted Carmine Jewels.  This is the one I have high hopes for.  Zones 3-8, tart cherry, self-pollinating but better fruit load with more than one.  6'to 8' tall.     I have two each of these and I'm keeping my eyes open for any other varieties I can get.  I'm on the lookout for Nanking cherry bushes.  

I know Edible Acres offers these but I keep missing the boat.  I've tried growing Saskatoons from seeds with no luck.  

Old Carmine Jewel Video with good information.



Nanking Cherry



Hansens Cherry

 
Steve Thorn
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Jamin Grey wrote:

Steve Thorn wrote:
I've heard mulberries are a great chicken treat!



They go crazy for it! My freerange layer birds have their poop turns purple for about a month every year.



That's funny!

Mulberry trees are such heavy producers, the single tree nearly covers the ground in berries for several weeks straight



That is awesome, I love when a tree really produces like that!

One of the funnest things I've done is start and raise a batch of meat chickens in their brooder, directly under the tree during mulberry season. Straight out of the mailing crate, the chickens were gobbling up mulberries they could barely even fit in their beak. Probably the healthiest batch of birds I've done; unfortunately, I now do my meat birds much earlier (or much later) in the year to avoid the summer heat stress on them, so the meat birds always miss mulberry season.



Sounds like they were literally stuffing their faces! That's so cool, I bet that is a super healthy and delicious food for them!
 
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Annie Daellenbach wrote:My trees will root from hardwood cuttings. ... The berries are smallish (not a long-form, like the Pakistan Mulberry), and taste exactly like blackberries.  They are so good, my kids wait impatiently while I reach up and grab a top branch to bend down and we pluck all the berries they can grab.  The branches are long and flexible, but the tree is young, maybe 5 years old.  We get berries in three main crops, when they start to come on we will be daily visiting the trees for about 2 weeks, although we have had them dry and drop off during a dry spell.  The chickens hop to get the low hanging fruit.  These trees are some of my favorite, they are aggressively healthy and planted on the mound below our swale.



That's awesome, I've heard the fruit are great, can't wait to taste some of mine hopefully next year!

The wood is (reportedly) good for carving.

Did you know - 'Mulberry is usually associated with sericulture, the domestication of mulberry started several thousands of years ago as a requirement for silkworm rearing.'
Mulberry and its potential for animal feeding: http://www.fao.org/3/x9895E/x9895e00.htm#Contents

Mulberry and your health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5981255/

I'll take some photos when the berries are ripe!



It's so great when plants have so many awesome uses! I think the mulberry could be a top permaculture plant!
 
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This is a newly planted Shangri La mulberry tree that was planted last Fall and is in its first year of growth.

It has a lot of fast growing new shoots and is growing really well here so far!

 
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I bought my trees from dept of ag, their description says "red". I kid you not.

But I have at least two varieties based on leaves and timing differences and the price was right. These are two year old specimens.

The trees adjacent to wood chip piles are less sweet. The ones dry grown are sweeter.
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Dan Allen
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Here is the kentucky rest stop mulberry grafted onto a white mulberry seedling, probably the smallest graft I've done.
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Dan Allen
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J Davis wrote:I bought my trees from dept of ag, their description says "red". I kid you not.

But I have at least two varieties based on leaves and timing differences and the price was right. These are two year old specimens.

The trees adjacent to wood chip piles are less sweet. The ones dry grown are sweeter.



Nice mulberries!
 
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J Davis wrote:I bought my trees from dept of ag, their description says "red". I kid you not.



That's funny

But I have at least two varieties based on leaves and timing differences and the price was right. These are two year old specimens.

The trees adjacent to wood chip piles are less sweet. The ones dry grown are sweeter.



Really neat J, that mulberry tree looks great, and tasty too!
 
Steve Thorn
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Dan Allen wrote:Here is the kentucky rest stop mulberry grafted onto a white mulberry seedling, probably the smallest graft I've done.



Very cool Dan, I want to graft some mulberries soon.

If that mulberry is really good, I vote for the variety name "Kentucky rest stop", it's got a good ring to it.
 
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While you guys are talking mulberries:  I picked up a weeping mulberry last year and put it in a corner.  It's about 5 feet tall at the peak of the arches.  Will it grow as huge as a normal one?  This would be bad as in its current location it would cause impolite shade to my neighbors.  If I need to move it, is that even feasible at this point?  Thanks!
 
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Morfydd St. Clair wrote:While you guys are talking mulberries:  I picked up a weeping mulberry last year and put it in a corner.  It's about 5 feet tall at the peak of the arches.  Will it grow as huge as a normal one?  This would be bad as in its current location it would cause impolite shade to my neighbors.  If I need to move it, is that even feasible at this point?  Thanks!



Not if it's a true weeping. They have a mutation for negative gravitropy and will always send branches down toward the roots, rather than up like a normal mulberry. It could still grow quite large but could be easily managed. If you move it I would do it while it's dormant, I moved one right after bud break and it died.
 
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Ok, that's great to hear, thank you!
 
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Dan Allen wrote:Here is the kentucky rest stop mulberry grafted onto a white mulberry seedling, probably the smallest graft I've done.[/quote

Sad to report that the graft portion froze off on the 3rd when we had a 4 hour late freeze. I do have rooted cuttings as a backup in my nursery. However, the Kentucky mulberry turned out to be a male. I think I will grow it out anyway if the cuttings survive.

 
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Last fall I did a bunch of seed preparation and ordered some tiny rooted cutting from Akiva Silver at Twisted Tree Farms in upstate New York.    In Early fall I prepped a bed last minute, which is to say I yanked sod and did no amendments.  A day late and a dollar short.

Here are some shots of Mulberries from Akiva, pear trees direct-seeded from a mother tree and the a bush cherry.  The mulberries were just tiny sticks but I think every one of them survived.  I plan on digging these up and replanting after a couple of years.  Also, a shot of bush cherry that got hammered by something and still bore fruit.

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mulberry 1
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Mulberry 2
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Baby Pears
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mulberry 3
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Bush Cherry
 
Steve Thorn
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Those baby pears look good Scott. I've got just a few seeds I'm going to try to plant to get some seedlings hopefully next year.

I'm also excited to plant some mulberries from seed eventually and sample the fruit!
 
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This mulberry has grown from 1 foot tall to 7 feet tall just this year, and it's still got two months left in the growing season!

Since mulberries can grow so fast and produce fruit quickly, I'm going to use these extensively to fill in my food forest to get a quicker harvest while waiting for other fruit trees that may take a little longer to start bearing.

It produced a handful of fruit this year when it was only two feet tall, and it looks like it's going to produce a whole lot more berries next year!

 
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Steve Thorn wrote:This mulberry has grown from 1 foot tall to 7 feet tall just this year, and it's still got two months left in the growing season!



I've got three potted, thriving native mulberry cuttings (Morus rubra, I'm pretty sure) that I'm really excited about planting out this fall. Seeing this growth rate thrills me. The person I got these cuttings from said to wait until November to put them in the ground (I'm in Athens, zone 8a), but I can hardly wait. What my friend did with cuttings like these is pollard them at about 6' when they were well established; the crown then spreads out all around in a circle, and we just stood under hers and picked yummy mulberries.

How do the deer take to young mulberry trees? Any tips other than a deer fence?
 
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Diane Kistner wrote:I've got three potted, thriving native mulberry cuttings (Morus rubra, I'm pretty sure) that I'm really excited about planting out this fall. Seeing this growth rate thrills me. The person I got these cuttings from said to wait until November to put them in the ground (I'm in Athens, zone 8a), but I can hardly wait. What my friend did with cuttings like these is pollard them at about 6' when they were well established; the crown then spreads out all around in a circle, and we just stood under hers and picked yummy mulberries.



They sound tasty Diane!

I planted mine around November last year, and they really started exploding with growth in the middle of summer this year.

How do the deer take to young mulberry trees? Any tips other than a deer fence?



I've heard deer really like mulberry leaves, but thankfully they haven't tasted mine yet.

I'm trying to move towards using a combination of thorny plants and twiggy branches stuck in the ground to discourage the deer. I saw where a deer had taken a bite out of my young thorny black locust tree the other day that had some thorns on the end. It looks like that was the only bite they took. I'm hoping they'll tell all their deer friends that my plants don't taste very good.

Looking forward to hearing how your mulberries turn out!
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:I planted mine around November last year, and they really started exploding with growth in the middle of summer this year [...]

I've heard deer really like mulberry leaves, but thankfully they haven't tasted mine yet.



Thanks for this info, Steve. I'll force myself to wait until November. I like your idea of sticking sticky things around to protect plantings from deer. I'm also trying to figure out precisely how deer are moving through our neighborhood to try to plant things in a way that will encourage them to have a nibble, then move on to somebody else's yard!

 
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Diane Kistner wrote:I'm also trying to figure out precisely how deer are moving through our neighborhood to try to plant things in a way that will encourage them to have a nibble, then move on to somebody else's yard!



I've noticed that if I'm able to protect the plants closest to the woods where the highest deer pressure is, so far they seem to just keep moving and not venture further to my other plants.

Maybe they'll eventually just bypass us altogether.
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:I've noticed that if I'm able to protect the plants closest to the woods where the highest deer pressure is, so far they seem to just keep moving and not venture further to my other plants.

Maybe they'll eventually just bypass us altogether.



My neighbor has started getting deer in her back yard a lot more ever since I put in my big brush pile against our mutual chainlink fence along the back third and put my potting/rooting area inside an old umbrella/screen house setup. (The blackberries, figs, and grapes are recovering....) In the strip of land on the outside of our back fence I've thrown similar brush but I haven't gotten all the area covered so they still jump over when they're running away from me.

On the other side of the yard, I've got a chicken paddock and long sheet-mulched strip on the outside of it (where I'm slowly eating the yard up from the outer edges) that I'm thinking about putting a berry/grape arbor, about 3.5' from the paddock fence. I'm hoping being so close to the paddock fence the deer won't jump it to get to them.

I've caught a deer inside the paddock nibbling on the sunchokes I started this year, and I'm thinking I may actually encourage a bunch of sunchokes there so they'll screen the neighbors' yard and also give the deer something they might eat instead when they do jump into the yard. I need to keep my eyes peeled for sticky stuff to stick up on the length of fence between the front and back yards, because that's where they come in; their little deer corridor is across the street through my other neighbors' yard. I'm trying to think of something quick and decorative I can weave through/put on the fence viewable from the street to deter deer that the neighbors would not think looks "junky."


 
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Diane Kistner wrote:I'm trying to think of something quick and decorative I can weave through/put on the fence viewable from the street to deter deer that the neighbors would not think looks "junky."



That's a neat idea!

I used to have a 4 foot fence around my main garden area in my backyard that I think the deer used to jump for fun.

I put a strand of thin string above the fence at a height of 6 or maybe 7 feet tall, and I haven't noticed one jump it since. I think the visual barrier keeps them from wanting to jump it.

I've thought about using the string to create an entire woven fence without any fencing, with strands every foot, and designs could be made on it to make smaller gaps on the lower sections. I'm not very artistic though, so mine would probably be more functional than beautiful.
 
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It occurs to me now that I might even put a cattle panel arbor, with the panel side flush against the fence, and a few tall colored-glass-bottle-capped stakes made of electrical conduit on either side poking up high enough to prevent them from jumping; or bird houses....

I look at these fences, and a combination of the two ideas would fit right in here, if I could get them high (and cheap) enough!





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Steve Thorn
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Is that a birdhouse fence? Such a cool idea!
 
Steve Thorn
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I've thought about using mulberries as a perimeter living fence. They grow fast, deer like to munch their leaves, and they can make a ton of fruit to fill up critters' bellies and possibly keep them off the other fruit.

Combined with some thorny bushes on the inner side, I bet this could be an effective combination, will have to try it out!
 
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Steve,

I just noticed in your very first post that your young mulberry was pushing out fruit.   What the heck?  I thought I read that they take years to fruit?  It would be so cool to have fruit within the first 3 years.  

Do you know how long it typically takes them to fruit?

Regards, Scott
 
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Hey Scott,

Yeah this particular one put out a fruit from about every bud its first year in the ground. I could tell it was struggling to both ripen the fruit and get adjusted to growing its first year, so I clipped off all of the other fruit after I tasted one.

I think that really helped, and then it really started to explode with new growth. I had slightly mounded the soil around it when I first planted it, as it was in a moist location.

My other variety of mulberry I have didn't produce fruit yet, so it seems to depend on the variety from what I've seen.

I hope the birds and other critters leave me a good crop next year so I can really get a good taste of it.
 
Diane Kistner
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Steve Thorn wrote:I've thought about using mulberries as a perimeter living fence. They grow fast, deer like to munch their leaves, and they can make a ton of fruit to fill up critters' bellies and possibly keep them off the other fruit.

Combined with some thorny bushes on the inner side, I bet this could be an effective combination, will have to try it out!



I think you're onto something there, Steve! What kind of thorny bushes would you recommend as mulberry companions?

I may try that on my fence in question. Only problem is, it's partial shade with some pines nearby. Do you have mulberries doing well in partial shade?

I've been knocked out at how quickly the few extra sticks of mulberry I got from my friend leafed out when I stuck them into a pot. And now that I've got my little screen-house cuttings setup, the deer have not been bothering themI could get a ton of them going....

 
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Diane Kistner wrote:What kind of thorny bushes would you recommend as mulberry companions?



I'm looking into possibly black locust, jujube, and roses in a combination with lilac, agastache, and hyssop for strong smelling plants to hopefully deter them.

I may try that on my fence in question. Only problem is, it's partial shade with some pines nearby. Do you have mulberries doing well in partial shade?



I have one growing with maybe 5 or 6 hours of sun that has done ok, but has been a slower grower.

I've been knocked out at how quickly the few extra sticks of mulberry I got from my friend leafed out when I stuck them into a pot. And now that I've got my little screen-house cuttings setup, the deer have not been bothering themI could get a ton of them going....



That's awesome Diane! Hope you have lots of little mulberry trees to plant soon!
 
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