Wood Chips to Mulch Strawberry Plants
Wood chips offer an inexpensive source of mulch for a strawberry bed or for a single strawberry plant. They resist compaction and don’t blow away in the wind like leaf or straw mulch. Wood chips have a dark colour and natural appearance that complements the green leaves, white flowers and bright red berries of growing strawberry plants. Many communities provide free wood chips by the truckload or individual bags as part of their city masonry program.
Types of Wood Mulch
Commercial bark mulches are byproducts of milled fir, Douglas fir, pine, redwood and spruce trees. Wood chips mulches are made from different kinds of hardwood and soft wood species. Bark mulches are offered in three particle sizes: chunks, granules and shredded bark. Chunk bark most frequently becomes decorative mulch around tree beds or trees. In addition, it prevents water loss and weed development. Wood chips eliminate colour with time, but bark chips don’t. Bark granules and wood shavings protect the dirt around strawberry plants, vegetables, and perennial and yearly flower beds. Freshly milled wood chips or bark shreds might have toxic residue. Toxins leach from stockpiled wood chips by heavy watering or disappear through aeration. Bagged bark chip products have usually been allowed to weather for long periods to remove toxins.
Strawberries prosper in slightly acidic soil pH of 5.8 to 6.2. Soil pH measures the relative acidity and alkalinity of the soil, which influences the way that plants absorb nutrients. Strawberry plants won’t thrive in dirt outside the recommended pH range. Douglas and other fir tree mulches increase soil acidity, so it’s necessary that you understand the soil pH level prior to applying wood chip mulches. Home garden centres sell test kits. Mature compost balances soil pH. According to the Washington State University County Extension composting program, adding mature compost to soil buffers it, “bringing pH levels to the best range for mineral availability.”
New strawberries are planted in early spring for summer harvest in a hole 7 inches broad and deep enough to accommodate the plant’s root system. After dirt covers its origins and half of the crown, shaved wood chip mulch is placed loosely around every plant without undermining the crown or stems. Sensors should be placed 12 to 18 inches apart to leave room for runners to develop new plants. Mulch is added periodically throughout the growing season when it becomes sparse. Wood chip or shredded bark mulch reduces soil temperature by 8 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit during heat spells. Mulched dirt also protects tender roots from temperature extremes.
Strawberry Bed Renovation
Shredded wood chip mulch helps renovate a strawberry stain following harvest. Strawberry plants produce fruit for three to five decades or more when dirt and plants are well-maintained. Start by pulling up weeds that have grown through the mulch. Mow above the strawberry bed to remove the leaves but maintain the crown of the plant. Fertilize with mature compost or all-purpose synthetic fertilizer to encourage fresh green growth. Pull up plants growing 10 to 12 inches in a middle crown plant to allow new runners to develop next year. Irrigate the strawberry bed, and reapply shredded wood chip mulch to a depth of two to three inches across every plant.