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Hugelkulture for strawberries?

 
Clare Marmalejo
Posts: 12
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Hello, I am brand new here and fairly new to permaculture. I live in the Shenandoah valley of Virginia and my soil is super Rocky despite being nice and dark. We also have pockets of hard clay. I am digging out a bed for strawberries but it looks like it was someone's trash heap in the 70s. I have found cans, broken bottles, etc.

I am considering a wide, short (1-2' tall) Hugelkulture bed for strawberries. I have access to lots of oak and Apple and cherry branches. I also have aged horse manure, aged chicken poop (and old straw), compost and straw. I have a little bit of pine needles.

Is this a good idea? Or terrible? Has anyone tried this? I figured strawberries like good drainage and lots of water... So this might work well?
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 94
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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I have strawberries in a hugelish bed for the same reason you are thinking - moisture. It's kind of working but I'm having huge problems with mice and voles getting to the berries before I do. The hugels make great habitat for rodents. For the summer I'm going to try planting some castor beans in the bed. I read on another thread here that voles don't like castor bean.
 
Clare Marmalejo
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Thanks Jessica for that info! I will look for rodent repelling plants too. What about dafodils? I think they also repel rodents and deer. Do the plants seem to do okay otherwise?
 
Elijah Bowman
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Location: Adams County, Ohio, zone 6a
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I have observed Fragaria vesca (wild strawberry) often growing in a natural guild in the calcium, phosphorus and potassium rich dark soil under juglans nigra (black walnut) trees. A wonderful synergy can be obtained by growing a polyculture including these plants because the walnut's juglone secretions suppress competitive grasses and the tree also accumulates key nutrients that the strawberries require to thrive.
 
Ron Helwig
Posts: 107
Location: New Hampshire
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Jessica Padgham wrote:I have strawberries in a hugelish bed for the same reason you are thinking - moisture. It's kind of working but I'm having huge problems with mice and voles getting to the berries before I do. The hugels make great habitat for rodents. For the summer I'm going to try planting some castor beans in the bed. I read on another thread here that voles don't like castor bean.


We have a large hugel with over a hundred strawberry plants and it works great. We do have issues with the chickens getting to the berries before us, but not to the point that we are trying to keep them away. The bed does have mice/mole/vole problems, but we have a great mouser cat that brings them up to the house for us The "presents" from the cat are great for the ducks, who love to get rid of them for us.
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 94
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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My plants have done ok. They need less water than the ones I had planted in a regular bed. Those ones sort of faded away to nothing. These ones are not loving my alkaline soil but are putting out a few runners. I have two varieties now and I think I'm going to try adding one or two more this year and maybe even try growing some from seeds if I can get the berries before the rodents.
 
Erin Blegen
Posts: 21
Location: Minnesota, United States
food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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My strawberries did great last year in a hugel bed. I also had problems with rodents (chipmunks, squirrels, mice) but found putting netting over them helped quite a bit.
 
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