Mulching with pine shavings
I was wondering if it's okay to mulch my strawberries and raspberries with pine shavings like I do on my blueberries. How about a mixture of manure and shavings?
Jackson County Oregon
Thank you for using Ask an Expert. We don't see a problem with mulching carefully with pine needles. Make sure the needles are dry, insect free (mites can be a problem) and deployed around but not touching the stem of the plants.If your plants are far enough apart, you can cover each (or a row) with a plastic bucket or planter and then place the mulch without getting any of the plants covered. Using manure is a trickier situation. First of all, pine needles, as you probably know, do not last long as mulch. They compost fairly quickly. Manure (or other rich fertilizer mixed with the needles) will only accelerate the decay. Better to fertilize first, give the nutrient time to work into the soil or work it in as you spread it, and then mulch once weather is warmer. Most strawberry varieties that are June-bearers like to be fertilized once in late summer or early fall in order to promote the fruit buds in spring. Everbearing and day-neutral types are fertilized in the fall and again after the first big harvest. Think of the ever-bearers like their relatives the roses: fertilize , bloom and produce berries, and then give a pat on the back with more fertilizer! Happy harvest!
Good informative answer, but my question was about pine shavings. Looking forward to your reply. I always find this service and all the Extension very useful. Thank you. Jim
Sorry! I goofed. I am very familiar with pine needles used as mulch, but guess I thought that is what you were referring to. As for pine shavings: none of the sources I have for mulching mention pine chips or shavings. Cedar shavings are frequently used as mulch, especially in widely spaced plantings, such as blackberry bushes or tomato bushes. Pine is more resinous, which might create problems used in thick plantings like strawberries. Wood mulches in general are used for pathways, decorative mulching, and weed control. The main difference in using the mixture for your blueberries (obviously with no harm) and using it for strawberries would be the resulting intrusion of pieces of mulch into the plants and the degree to which it would lower the soil temperature (strawberries need warmth) or retain too much moisture (strawberries are very subject to fungal diseases). We would not advise mixing the shavings with manure and placing it in proximity to strawberries that might suffer contamination from the manure. Keep in mind that blueberries are bushes and the fruit has little chance of contacting the mulched ground. Hope this is helpful for you and my apologies again for misreading the question.