Ask a Question forum: vegetable garden soil

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I am in Southeast Michigan, ab (Zone 5a)
katydid1155
Jul 4, 2016 1:06 PM CST
My veggie garden resides under a very large mulberry tree. Every year, more and more berries fall into the soil. Every year, my plants do less and less well. Could the fermentation of the dropped berries be altering my soil to the point that my plants aren't growing and producing well? Since I can't cut down the mulberry tree, what is an option to add to my soil to bring it back into a positive balance for my veggies?
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Jul 4, 2016 1:08 PM CST
Welcome! @katydid1155

Does the large mulberry tree shade the vegetable garden at all?
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Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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robynanne
Jul 4, 2016 2:29 PM CST
You're really going to have to test the soil to see. My veggies are under a huge pine tree. My neighbor's tree, so I can't cut it down either. There is a fence protecting them, but obviously the roots and the falling needles don't care about that. Every year, my garden is covered in fallen needles. I assumed when I set it up, that the soil would be ridiculously acidic. I was all set to add all kinds of base to my soil to make it better for the veggies. On a whim I tested it and boy I'm glad I did! It was about a 7 on the nose! So all this is to say, don't assume anything even from am educated guess. Test the soil.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Jul 4, 2016 2:53 PM CST
Mulberry trees produce a ton of shade.
I've gardened under mulberry trees too... But it's not my first choice for tomatoes.

Those berries should be adding nutrients to the soil... Same as those huge leaves.
Only problem.... Is those berries generally contain viable seed. I always had baby mulberry trees under the tree...
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Jul 4, 2016 3:04 PM CST
I agree The problem is that we don't know whether that tree provides shade and if so, how many hours of sun the garden gets.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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[Last edited by drdawg - Jul 4, 2016 3:06 PM (+)]
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jul 5, 2016 9:36 AM CST
I really doubt that the berries themselves are any problem. Shade and tree roots are the likely culprit.
I am in Southeast Michigan, ab (Zone 5a)
katydid1155
Jul 5, 2016 10:59 AM CST
The mulberry tress only provides very limited shade, and the garden area itself receives at least 6-8 hours of sunshine. The only shade it actually receives is from my shed (veggie garden backs up to my shed), but it only shades the morning sun.

I haven't had any volunteer mulberrys growing, have amended the soil, have dug up the old soil and put down all new soil. But nothing seems to really work. The only thing that HAS thrived are the herbs we have planted there. The only other thing I can say, at the height of "berry season", it smells like a wine brewery. LOL I swear, the birds even get drunk.

We had thought about putting up a screen to catch the berries as they drop, but I don't want it to impede with any shading.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Jul 5, 2016 11:17 AM CST
@katydid1155, if you don't mind, please update your "Profile", putting your location. City/state is most helpful along with your USDA zone.

I just don't know what's going on. Mulberry trees used to be frequently grown in the south but I seldom see one any more. I am sure it is because of the mess they make and the fact that their roots are so vigorous and dense. Perhaps as Rita surmised, it is the roots that are causing the problem. My raised garden is about 50' from the nearest oak, and every year I dig up the garden in the fall, to prepare it for planting garlic. I always encounter masses of fine, dense roots about 6" deep. I just cut them off as much as possible, then pull those root-masses out by hand, and toss them in the garbage. The garden soil, being so loose and so fertile, is a magnet for tree roots to invade and literally take over a garden's soil if not constantly battled. At least that's been my experience.
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Name: Thomas
Deep East Texas (Zone 8a)
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Thomas75
Jul 5, 2016 11:19 AM CST
Hi @katydid1155

I doubt that any fermentation can take place with berries on the ground, most likely they will either be eaten or decompose first. As Robyn has suggested, you really need to test the PH of your soil.
Thomas75
I am in Southeast Michigan, ab (Zone 5a)
katydid1155
Jul 5, 2016 11:46 AM CST
@drdawg--I am in Southeast Michigan (I finally entered that into my profile), Zone 5b. We have actually been able to dig down almost 2 feet, but have only encountered very small sucker roots from the mulberry, and those we clipped off. @Thomas75--I am going to take that into serious consideration, having my PH tested. I tried to upload an image to share, but it only gives me this "lightbox" thing, so not sure how to do that. But I will try again...It's an overcast day, so you really can't see that it's a very sunny spot.

Thumb of 2016-07-05/katydid1155/fcd3d6

[Last edited by katydid1155 - Jul 5, 2016 11:47 AM (+)]
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jul 5, 2016 12:05 PM CST
OK, apparently your problem is not mulberry tree root related. Roots 2' down would not present a problem. Get that soil test at your local extension office.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jul 5, 2016 2:29 PM CST
I would also suggest lots of compost and organic matter.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Jul 5, 2016 3:24 PM CST
katydid1155 said:
Thumb of 2016-07-05/katydid1155/fcd3d6

katydid1155 said:The only shade it actually receives is from my shed (veggie garden backs up to my shed), but it only shades the morning sun.

1) You aren't getting nearly as much sun as you think you are... Very glad that you posted the picture... very tiny garden spot with no air flow... I'm not surprised that you can't get much to grow in that tiny space.

2) At my house... morning sun is the most important sunlight of the entire day!
At my house... the hot afternoon sun is actually injurious to the garden, and I wouldn't plant anything in those conditions, except for the very toughest of plants...

Try finding a spot where you have lush growth... think the middle of the front lawn... A common practice is for people to attempt to put in a vegetable garden or perennials or something in the spots where the turf refuses to grow... it never works...
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jul 5, 2016 4:01 PM CST
If the tree belongs to your neighbor you may not be able to cut down the tree but you sure can prune the branches that are encroaching on your yard. The branches are too close to the house. Trim back as many branches as possible to allow more sunlight and more air flow.''

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Jul 5, 2016 4:16 PM CST
greene said:If the tree belongs to your neighbor you may not be able to cut down the tree but you sure can prune the branches that are encroaching on your yard. The branches are too close to the house. Trim back as many branches as possible to allow more sunlight and more air flow.''



I agree You'd be surprised how much better and more light once tree branches are pruned.

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