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help with berry guild and underplanting

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i live in zone 4/5, and have established a baby berry garden and am planning on underplanting it. As most of the berries are brambles i will need plants that do not require workinig in much..and that can withstand acid soil in most areas..near the compost area the soile is alkaline from previous use as a burn area. I have been building up acid mulches on the lower garden esp. for the blueberries and they are doing well.

This is an abandoned garden area with hardpan and overused in the 1920s through 1970's when we bought the property..we have allowed it to go basically unused other than some herbs, asparagus, rhubarb and horseradish plants.

We have been building up the soil with manure, compost and sheet mulch as able..but it still needs a lot of weed control and care.

here is a sketch i made of the area that is about 40 x 40 or a little larger on the NE side..not necessarily to scale esp the cirular garden which is farther to the NE but moved it down to fit into the map..actually the path behind the compost pile is in line with the paths across the cirular lawn..so it is much farther North.
http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa5/ronbre/BerrygardenasofendofAugust2009.jpg
In the front there is a full row of blueberries, then wild plums and apples, then a long row of raspberries, then an open row, then a row of blackberries.

There are a few herbs and spring bulbs growing in this area between the plants but I really need to be thinking about what kinds of living ground cover i can have between the brambles and the blueberries especially, that won't overtake or damage them but that will actually help them. Generally i just put down a heavy mulch, but i'm having a lot of problems with weeds.. There is also a lot of  yarrow that grows in this area, I'm wondering what benefit or disadvantages there might be to the yarrow. Have pulled up a ton of queen annes lace as well, and there is wild oregano abounding in this area.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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trying another link to the diagram

Ok this link worked but it is very small. Beginning at the front, south end.
front row left to right, sweet chestnut, blueberries, rhubarb
second row left to right, 2 wild plum, antique apple, 2 wild plum,
third row left to right, golden raspberries, red raspberries, black raspberries
fourth row is annuals right now and some herbs
fifth row is another sweet chestnut tree and prime Jim blackberries, more coming in spring.
then there is a burning area and a compost pile on the left and an area that has  corn,
potatos, beans and onions on the right..

the circular garden is surrounde by planting beds that have dwarf trees, shrubs and perennials and herbs in them..and the south of that on both sides of the walk is asparagus, rhubarb and some baby hard pecan trees..north of the cirular garden are 6 hazelnut trees..

 
Leah Sattler
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would strawberries be happy there?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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Leah they might work with the blueberries..i don't think i'd want to be trying to pick apples under thorney brambles, like blackberries and raspberries though..

i did look up some of the plants that are growing "wild" in the area and i did find that some of them are really helpful medically, like yarrow, oregano and motherwort...so i'll be leaving a few of those plants in.

I also have catnip that i could put under the fruit trees and nut trees. I did plant some jerusalem artichokes around the hazelnut bushes..and they are doing well.

i know i need to keep things in this area that will draw in  pollinators..there is oregano growing among the asparagus but i am pulling the queen annes lace that grows there as it seems to overtake the asparagus..i used to have chives back in this area, but they evidentally all died out, not sure why...i may replant them as they do well around fruit trees and draw in pollinators.

but honestly i want some things around the brambles that will not overtake, or rob from them, that can weave in and out of the sharp thorney canes without my having to reach in there and pick things..that is why i used melons and squashes this year..they bear toward the ends of the vines..which extend out away from the brambles, and still help to mulch the soil under the brambles..this is the type of plants i'm considering i guess..things that will mulch the soil..but can be harvested one time and not reaching inside the brambles..

so ideas along this loine is whear i'm heading...and lookng for more suggestions there..honestly, melons don't so well here in the far north..i have 2 small melons on my vines is all.
 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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HI! I did plant a few strawberries under my raspberries this year, they did alright, however, raspberries or blackberries taste better when they can dry out a bit in the last half of summer(at least here in PNW). The strawberries like more water. So I will plant mint and sage next year, they do better in dry soil(the leaves wont' be as big, but they can tolerate drier soil).

Blueberries/huckleberries like it wetter, so strawberries would be good under them I think.

 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i think you may have hit on something..i think i'll move some of my strawberries to the blueberry row next spring..when they send out babies..put some of the new runners out there..i really hadn't thought about strawberries under the blueberries..i do have creeping wintergreen under some of them now and i did think about highbush cranberries too..as they also prefer the acid soil that the blueberries require.

as for the brambles (rasp and black berries) i am thinking along the line that you are as well..herbs and creeping plants that don't require a lot of harvesting among the  canes..i have oregano and melons and squash growing there now..and they are doing well..but i have a LOT of bare ground that needs to be covered and used..

i have my main herb garden up closer to the house by the kitchen/greenhouse area..where the herbs are quick to grab..this berry garden is about 200' north of our house back by my woods..where it doesn't get visited daily unless i'm picking berries...so the plants that go in here need to be things that don't need easy to house access too.

 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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duh...was just thinking, out here in the woods, the wild strawberries grow under the huckleberries/blueberries best.  A few do grow under the blackberries, but they are scraggly. There ya go!
 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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that is great information, thanks WT..i'll make sure to put some of my "suckers" back there as soon as they form roots..maybe i'll do some transplanting during the wet weather of this fall..right now where my strawberries are..i'm lucky to get any of them before the birds eat them..of course i do on purpose drawn in the birds..so i shouldn't complain..but it would be a real blessing to get some of the berries myself..

we also have wild strawberries here that tend to grow everywhere..we are more likely to get a harvest from them..for some reason I'm not sure of..Ron loves to pick the wild strawberries when they are ready..our property has always had a huge supply of them..

i did notice some baby runners on my strazzberries yesterday..they were new plants and didn't bring me any berries..but those runners might be a good start on the transplanting..they are supposed to taste somewhat like raspberries..but are strawberries.

i could also move some of my baby herb plants out there..as ihave some really crowded herbs that i put in from seed this past year..and some of my herbs i did allow to go to seed so that they would produce more..i like having herbs there..as they draw in the pollinators..
 
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