we have both strawberries and raspberries together in our garden. They are...

Asked September 7, 2014, 6:44 PM EDT

we have both strawberries and raspberries together in our garden. They are not in rows. When we leave town, the weeds take over and it is hard to catch up. I am wondering if landscaping fabric would work? I see evidence this was used in the garden in the past. I am not sure how this fabric works with existing plants, especially with runners. Or would putting wood mulch around the plants be advised? There is quite a bit of dirt between plants that allow for ample weed production. Any ideas to decrease the amount of weeds is appreciated, we are organic gardeners.

Hennepin County Minnesota weed control mulching

3 Responses

Thank you for the question. According to the University of Minnesota's publication "Strawberries for the Home Garden", organic or inorganic mulches can be used but we advice against black plastic plastic as it may cause soil temperature to get too high for the berries. Black landscaping fabric will also raise the soil temperature but by placing mulch over the top of the fabric, this is avoided. It would be quite a job to put fabric down now but it could be done by removing as many weeds as possible, gently laying the fabric over the plants, cutting X's in the fabric over places where a plant is growing and then gently pulling the foliage and runners out, placing them on top of the fabric. Then place mulch on top of the landscape fabric, making sure to keep the plant and runners free once again. The fact that you have raspberry bushes in the garden too makes this method seem quite labor intensive. Next year, you could try wood mulch or placing layers of newspapers down and covered with weed free straw around the plants, making sure the runners are above the mulch. Of course, you will want to mulch over your plants once we have had 3-4 hard frosts this fall to help protect them through the winter. Read more here about growing raspberries and strawberries.

Is it advisable to put down wood mulch this fall after cleaning out the weeds? Or is there a reason to wait til next spring?

Mulch would be best applied next spring after the ground has warmed up enough for root growth. If you apply it this fall, the soil will warm slower in the spring, possibly delaying spring growth of your fruits. Read more about it: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-724/426-724.html