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Growing Strawberries with living mulch ??  RSS feed

 
Miguel Laroche
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I have a few questions regarding growing strawberries.

I have a small strawberry patch, it's on its second year. The previous owner were farming conventionally, then the new owners switched to organic for over 5 years ( the patch has been moving around ) And the way they do it is mid summer when the season is over they till between the row, fertilize it and in the fall or spring they narrow down the rows.

I would like to manage this patch without the use of heavy equipment, is it at all possible? Has anyone ever used white dutch clover in between rows? My friend has tilled between the rows yesterday and I am thinking of spreading clover seeds in the pathways, any thoughts?
 
Paul Cereghino
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I have found everbearing strawberries do poorly without work compared to june bearing. In general I think ecologically of strawberry in a natural system as a plant that creeps around filling cracks opportunistically, but cannot compete with competitors, so it does well with frequent patchy disturbance in winter, rebounding to fill space in spring. We do the work of introducing it to bare sites periodically and weeding to push up the yield. I think of white clover as having a similar habit... thriving when more robust competitors are knocked back. I suspect they would mix and share nitch, and you'd get a lower strawberry yield over time. I know that in continuous intensive strawberry cultivation there are soil fungus issues, particularly on less sandy sites, so you are looking at some kind of rotation for intensive cultivation anyway. Just some random thoughts.. only fragments of experience... no one else was taking the bait.
 
Miguel Laroche
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Thanks for the reply.

I spread the clover seeds, I hope it wasnt a big mistake! I plan to mow it down every now and then and feed the runners back in the row. I plan to move the patch 2 years from now as the plants are already 2 years old. I heard strawberry plants only last about 5 years, is this true for conventional farming or just true>? I find it odd that a plant that consistently rejuvenate itself (runners) would ever go bad.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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How did it go? Did the clover crowd out the strawberries, vice versa, or did they get along fine?
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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My personal experience with growing strawberries with a white clover living mulch resulted in severely stunted strawberry plants and very few berries. I ended up killing all of the clover (chop and drop combined with a heavy mulch) and most of the strawberries didn't make it through to the next season. I think they occupy to similar a niche in the ecosystem to coexist very well.
 
Miguel Laroche
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Haha! I find it funny to read myself 2 years later. There are things I didnt know then... luckily, the chickens ducks and geeze ate the clover seeds. White dutch clover is probably the last thing you would want to grow with strawberries. White dutch clover creates habitat for weevils, and you dont want weevils in your strawberry field .

I am experimenting with new ways to manage a strawberry field with a no-till approach but things are working out so well so far I am keeping it a bit of a secret for now. If you are a strawberry farmer and do not live in my area feel free to PM me
 
Russell Olson
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Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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I had an unintended strawberry/creeping charlie living mulch situation this year. I let it play out, figuring the strawberries could possibly run over the top of the creeping charlie mat. I now have a creeping charlie living mulch situation if you catch me.

What I have found and will continue to proliferate is that alpine strawberries when grown in good conditions create their own living mulch. I transplanted a few varieties here and there this past summer and they out competed grass and weeds quite well. I'm going to start an entire 72 cell tray of them next spring and plop them along the borders of my paths with hopes they contain any weeds trying to get into or out of my orchard. Plus they are nice to snack on though if you are looking for a large scale market crop they would be tough to count on since they have pretty small yields and small but tasty berries.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I think Dave nailed it here:

I think they occupy to similar a niche in the ecosystem to coexist very well.


When I read this thread, this is the first thing that came to mind. Strawberries and clover occupy a very similar root zone (though I believe clover will go deeper), as well as a spreading nature. Strawberries, as far as I know, are not intensive nitrogen users, and so would not necessarily benefit much from the association, besides living mulch (but this ends up quickly becoming too much of a good thing).

I have been trying to brainstorm a possible strawberry guild.

Here's what I thought might work, but I have not tried it anywhere.

Garlic, strawberries (June bearing), asparagus (seems to do alright in the acidic soils preferred by strawberries), and cabbage (will do well enough given enough moisture, and drainage, in almost any soil). My thoughts are a staggering of harvests, where one part of the guild bears then another, then another. The cabbages and the garlic would have similar harvest times. Cabbage provides nutrients (leaf mass) to the system. Dry garlic stalks, after curing, could be tossed back on the beds. New garlic cloves could be planted where the cabbage was, and also where strawberry plants have been moved from when they need to be cycled to new places. Asparagus, of course, comes up early in the spring, and is done it's prime production when the strawberries start kicking in.

Johnny Jump Up Violets might be a good cover crop. I don't know. They occupy a similar root zone, but I don't think they are quite as spreading as clover. I was thinking of the violets because they seem to enjoy nutrient rich but acid soil, just like strawberries.

 
Ken W Wilson
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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My everbearing strawberries and my musk strawberries have a lot of henbit in them this winter. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. The strawberry plants aren't dormant yet but don't really need to be growing now. The musk strawberries haven't covered the ground yet and are on a slope so the henbit should prevent erosion. I think I'll leave the henbit until early spring when it's big enough to pull grab on to to pull. I think my chickens will like it.
 
Pamela Smith
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Location: BC Canada Zone 5&6
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This year I went to move my everybearing strawberries because they were simply not growing. Where they were we decided to put in some raspberries. So I took out all the strawberries where the raspberries were going to go. I got busy with other things in the garden and left the rest of the strawberries. Well to my amazement for the first time in 3 years the strawberries are growing. What I have is strawberries on both sides of the raspberry row. I also have onions growing in with my strawberries. I am looking forward to a wonderful crop this year.

As for the idea of a cover crop or something in the rows another option besides raspberries is flax or amaranth?

Still new to this. Please pm of what you are doing that is working so well. Thanks
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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I was recently removing some faux strawberries from a flower bed that is mostly spring bulbs. I noticed that the Glory of the Snow leaves had basically laid themselves flat to the ground already. I pondered spring bulbs as an early, short lived, living mulch for strawberries. That bed is right next to the driveway leading into the garage so I don't plant edibles there but I might add some Glory of the Snow to the strawberry bed that currently has a problem with violets. I think the standard violets are too tall to make a good ground cover for strawberries.
 
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