Favorite Plants: Illinois Everbearing Mulberry

Posted on May 16, 2012 | 4 comments

Illinois Everbearing Mulberry - Berries Still Green

 

Of all the types of trees planted at Larrapin, the Illinois Everbearing Mulberry is one of the favorites. About three autumns back, I ordered two from Starkes Brothers Nursery in Missouri and planted them in the far chicken paddock. It was one of those permaculture “stacking”  ideas: shade in the pasture, snacks for the chickens who *love* the wine-colored berries that fall easily when ripe, valuable food for songbirds and potential distraction from other fruit, possible future pies for the farmers, and the clean-up services of the chickens for the same berries which stain wildly if tracked in the house.  The trees have accomplished all this already—except the pies—and it looks like this year could even be the pie year.

They grew quickly that first year they were planted. But when the garden had to be relocated to the middle paddock to escape the deer invasion, the two bushy trees were in a bad spot to cast too much shade. So against all tree growing wisdom, Mendy and I dug them up the following fall, cut them back drastically, and replanted in the northern chicken paddock where they would provide shade, but to the chickens, not the garden.  Truth be told, I didn’t expect them to live and planned to reorder their replacements that next year. But with faithful and attentive watering to make up for their abrupt relocation, they made it.

This third spring, they are covered far and wide with green berries (above). There is just no comparison with the amount and size of the named mulberry cultivars and the wild ones, though the latter are still important to wildlife. On this tree  a few berries are getting ripe already. I can’t show you those because I ate them. 🙂

Really, I take breaks from gardening, so sit on the folding chair in their shade while leisurely scanning for ripe berries and snack away. Any I drop, or accidentally knock off, are instantly devoured by the hens hanging about for just that possibility. Last summer, in the mornings I’d let out the hen girls and they would jog, chicken-run style and bloomers a-waving, to the trees to eat the berries that fell overnight. Needless to say, there aren’t any left to get tracked in the house…which normally is a major consideration when planning where to plant a mulberry tree. I can’t think of a better tree for a chicken yard.

When many berries get ripe, I hope to use the trick I learned from the blog over at Midwest Permaculture and put out a few clean sheets on the ground under the trees and shake.  (Obviously, the chickens will be locked up during this event or else quite a rodeo would ensue…) Until then, the chickens lounge in the deep shade of the bushy trees—which also keep their water buckets cool…and then I dump the water buckets to give the trees some extra water (more stacking!!), snack on a few more berries and get back to gardening.

Illinois Everbearing Mulberries - 3rd spring

 

What are the favorite trees you have planted or want to plant?  Please share your thoughts on the Facebook page!

—A Larrapin Garden.  Please  subscribe to get the posts by email most Wednesdays. You can also get bonus links, giveaways and recipes by “liking” the Facebook page or following on Twitter.  And if you are in the Fayetteville, Arkansas area, you can share the herb garden’s bounty via Green Fork Farmers Market—an online & drop-by market on Wednesdays featuring all naturally-grown products.

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4 Comments

  1. It’s hard for me to get too excited about Mullberries when they come up as weeds in my yard. Too much bird poop! ha! However, I’m looking forward to doing some preserving of mullberries this year. Perhaps after a good harvest I won’t mind them so much.

    • I’ve heard this! Since I got to plant mine in a safe spot and since they don’t re-seed or spread, it’s easier to get along with this variety! If you find any good mulberry recipes please share sometime. Thanks so much for commenting and dropping by A Larrapin Garden blog!

  2. I picked wild mulberries over a week ago just to eat on. We went on vacation 7 I haven’t had time to go back & get enough to make a pie – I hope to this weekend. We have tons of mulberry trees in our woods – no chickens though so the local birds get whet we don’t eat.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. I would LOVE that pie recipe if you ever want to share!