Mulberry Care Guide
Mulberries are among the first fruits of the season
Congratulations on selecting some of the best trees we offer. Mulberries have many advantages over other popular fruit trees. They fit into busy people's schedules since the time spent with them is taken up largely by eating their fruit. There's no spraying because the mulberry is disease and insect resistant. An excellent permaculture choice, mulberries thrive with neglect.
Placement & Spacing
Darker mulberries can "dot" non grassy areas when they ripen and fall. Plant a mulberry tree away from a house, sidewalk or driveway. The exceptions, Geraldi Hybrid because of its size 6-10' and the Weeping 8 - 12' tall. Their spacing can be about the same respectively. Both varieties are very ornamental, so do not hesitate honoring them with a prestigious place in the yard. Other varieties need to be spaced 15' to 30' apart depending if they are summer pruned. Shangri La is a smaller trees requiring a 15' spacing.
Training Weeping Mulberry
Weeping in Landscape
The glossy leafed weeper as a young tree will shoot new growth from ground level and everywhere on up the young trunk. If left on its own, most of its growth will be running along the ground. When growth starts in the spring, select an uppermost bud and train it to grow up a stake to a height of @ 6'. Keep all other lower growth pinched back or completely off. This will encourage the plant to put its energies into getting taller. At 6' the weeper can weep, and it will, all the way to the ground. As the weeper matures, new growth cascades from the top and the tree grows wider, creating a "fort" that one can crawl into and enjoy the unique privacy. People have ingeniously arbored weeping mulberries resulting in a room of weeping walls.
Geraldi Hybrid Dwarf
Geraldi is the smallest mulberry tree I've seen. The fruit is as large as Illinois Everbearing which it also resembles in leaf. Large dark green foliage and very short wood growth between the leaf buds. Our 14 year old tree is only 7' tall with the same spread and has fruited yearly, so it should fit into the smallest spaces.
Soil and Planting
Mulberries are not fussy about the soil they are planted in. North, East, South & West, they are adaptable. Freshly planted mulberries need water. When the roots of the potted plant take hold in the surrounding soil, the plant can take some neglect, but a little care goes a long way. Our customer in Sedona, AZ once wrote that a quart potted plant when planted in his irrigated orchard grew 12' in one season. When you pull your plant from the pot, if any roots are starting to grow in a circular fashion and showing outside the root mass, gingerly spread them from the root mass. These can be covered with your soil. No need to add fertilizers, manures etc. to the planting hole. These things can go on after the tree is growing. When scattered on top of the ground nature, will incorporate them.
Ilinois Everbearing, Collier, Weeping, Beautiful Day, and Geraldi Hybrid are wise to late frosts, generally leafing later to avoid them. Fruiting can be depended upon every year. Shangri La in rare years (once in 25 years at Edible) can have a large percentage of its fruit wiped out by late frost. The original trees in Naples, FL. is very adaptable and the earliest to ripen its fat delicious fruit.Pakistan is a "low chill" variety. That means they only stay dormant a short time and are ready to grow when warm weather comes. If warm weather comes to early, a frost can damage the early green growth.Pakistan is adaptable to coastal areas and mild winter areas where temperature fluctuations is uncommon in the winter.
To keep the more vigorous trees at picking size we cut the summer growth in @ July back by half. then the tree bushes out for the remainder of the growing season. Most of our trees are more round than upright and easier to pick. If the tree is crowding the space it's allotted, look for a root that's showing at ground level and root prune a 4" section and remove the piece of root. This method dwarfs the tree.
Picking & Storage
Mulberries can be black but not fully ripe. After a few days of "mature black" they will "dull" a little and be their sweetest. Rain plumps them up, but to much and they won't be sweet. Additives like minerals and fertilizers will also sweeten them up. Hot dry weather after a rain will also sweeten them up. The sweetest fruit will also sink in a bucket of water while unripe fruit will float.
Picking is usually done with the hands, but for most of us - hand and mouth. Unusually large crops are gathered from a tarp or some kind of sheet spread under the tree. A slight knock on the trunk will bring many ripe fruits to the sheet. These can be transferred to a bucket. To separate "frass" from the fruit just add water and the ripest sweet fruit will sink. I still remember the treat of scooping out the Beautiful Day white mulberries from the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket. My plan was to dry them for winter use, but they rivaled fresh Barhi dates for flavor and they never found their way to the pantry. At mulberry time I graze from one variety to the next usually settling with the tree whose time has come. I don't strip the tree because there's usually too much fruit; enough for visitors, children, employees, and me to enjoy daily.
Mulberries can be used in cobbler recipes, made into fruit leathers, quick frozen or dried. Dried Illinois Everbearing fruit compare to raisins are highly comparable.
Hopefully you will enjoy your mulberry as much as we do at Edible. Our trees have ripe fruit May-June so stop by if you can.
There may be wild seedlings growing and producing in your area. Learn to know the better tasting ones and protect them as a useful community food. Mulberries are powerful antioxidants. Their cancer preventive life extension qualities cleans the blood, strengthens kidneys, hearing, vision. Helps constipation, anemia, and graying hair.