Growing Strawberries in a Raised Bed
Strawberries in a Raised Bed
A well planned strawberry patch can gives years of pleasure as well as tasty fruit. Putting in a raised bed, makes it easy to tend the plants and pick the berries. It also overcomes any problems with poor soil and drainage. Here's advice to set up your own raised strawberry patch.
Several of my sisters have raised strawberry beds also. One used landscape timbers and another used concrete blocks to construct the raised planting area.
We share our tips for setting up the raised planting area and taking care of it.
Choose a Sunny Location for a Strawberry Patch
Advice from my sister, Cindy
My sister, Cindy, lives in Kansas so she's working with an extreme climate. The summer days often reach the upper 90s or even go to 102 degrees or 104 degrees. That means you need to be sure the strawberry patch doesn't dry out too much.
It's windy there too which has a drying effect on the soil.
Here's her advice: "First give thought to the placement of the patch. A well drained area is the best. Soggy soil will cause the plants to rot. Partial shade is workable, but not full shade. Strawberries need a fair amount of sun.
For our strawberry patch, I chose the corner area of the yard where the back and side fence meet. Because the ground was hard with a cover of grass, I decided to underlay the raised bed with a barrier of plastic. The black plastic keeps the grass from coming up into the soil above.
(NOTE: I'd recommend a special weed barrier instead of the plastic. That would allow better drainage, allowing rain to get through to the plant's roots.)
Use Landscape Timbers or Concrete Blocks for the Raised Strawberry Bed
Video with Tips for Planting a Raised Strawberry Bed
Place landscape timbers to outline the patch and hold the plastic in place. The number you need depends how big a strawberry patch you want.
My other sister made her raised strawberry bed using stacked concrete blocks. She got a good deal on these at a yard sale where they were left over from someone's home project.
Railroad ties are not recommended as they have creosote to prevent rotting. This could be unhealthy.
Shortcut - Buy a Ready-to-Go Raised Bed
Grow strawberries and other fruits or vegetables in this ready-to-use planting bed.
More Choices of Raised Garden Beds - Available from Amazon
Sure you can make your own raised bed with some timbers from Home Depot or Lowe's, but I'm all for convenience which you will get from these raised beds that are ready to go.
Some are higher and save your back or knees if you have problems with those.
Prepare the Soil for a Raised Strawberry Bed
Bring in good top soil and place it over the plastic. Most garden shops or Wal-Mart sell soil in bags or can tell you where you can get it by the truck load. Make sure you fill the soil at least even with the sides of the bed. This will allow for settling after it is watered. Don't mound the soil higher or it will wash out and be wasted.
We found a place where we could get a pick-up load of topsoil. It was good exercise shoveling it out for the garden.
If you make your own compost that's the best of all.
Three Tier Bed for Strawberries
This one is made from long-lasting cedar which resists rotting. I like the way it has three levels and is small enough to reach in from all sides.
Enrich the Soil - More tips from my sister
To the soil I added a forty pound bag of cow manure. Rabbit manure is even better and easily transported from a local rabbit grower. Also the rabbit manure can usually be had for a small price if you do your own scooping, bagging, and hauling. An added benefit to the rabbit manure is the fact there will be little or no weed seed and it's high in nitrogen.
If you know someone with a pet rabbit, you're in luck. If you don't know anyone, ask around or call the county extension office or 4-H office.
Can You Use Railroad Ties to Make a Raised Strawberry Patch?
Creosote coated railroad ties can cause health problems when used in gardening.
What Are You Thinking to Use for the Raised Strawberry Bed?
Vote in the poll
Raised Garden Made of Cedar
Cedar repels insects without the use of chemicals in the wood.
You Can Even Order Dirt Online - Garden Soil available from Amazon
There's also a book about improving your garden soil. Look for topsoil or garden soil which are sufficient and less expensive than potting soil generally.
I've had very good luck with Miracle-Gro products in my garden. The plants really thrive with their forumla.
Chose the Strawberry Plants
The type of strawberry you chose to plant will depend on your desired end product. If you hope to eat fresh strawberries from early spring through summer you should purchase everbearing plants. These will have a continuous growth of berries.
If you just plan to make jellies or jams and want a lot at one time, you should buy the spring only variety. They bear more heavily, but are done once the hot weather comes.
In my raised beds, I have some of both types and also a mixture of varieties so that I have strawberries in good number in the spring and then some throughout the summer.
Both kinds will winter over and return the next spring.
Everbearing Strawberry Plants - to order from Amazon
These are the kind that will bear strawberries throughout the summer.
Everbearing Ozark Beauty Plants
June Bearing Strawberry Plants - to buy from Amazon
These bear strawberries in June and produce more heavily all at once. I like to have some everbearing and some June bearing in my patch.
Chandler Strawberry Plants
If you want all the strawberry plants to bear at once so you can make jam or freeze them, then opt for June bearing plants.
Which Kind(s) of Strawberries Are You Planning to Plant?
Please answer the poll
More about Growing Strawberries
- How to Grow Strawberries in the Home Garden
My friend, Susan Golis, is a gardening guru, so I'm sharing the link to her article about raising strawberries.
Tips for Planting Strawberry Plants
Plant the strawberry with the soil up to, but not over, the center core of the leaves. That is called the crown. Planting too deeply will stunt plant growth and may even kill the plant. Keep all receipts from the store. Some stores give a two-year guarantee and will replace the strawberry plant that dies.
How Experienced Are You at Gardening?
Please vote in the poll
Mulching the Strawberry Patch
Mulch around the strawberry plants with good clean straw. It keeps moisture in the soil and weeds at bay. Straw keeps the berries off the ground, so they aren't as likely to attract slugs or to rot.
As your plants grow larger they will also multiply, filling the patch completely over three or four years. As the plants spread save the healthiest and weed out any weak plants. This will help keep your strawberry patch healthy and producing, with little work for years to come.
More about Mulching
I can't emphasize enough the importance of mulch. Don't just take my word for it, read a couple of books on the value of mulching. The first one I read was Ruth Stout's and it impressed me so that I've been mulching every since.
You can even buy the straw or alternate mulching material from Amazon, so I've included a few of those here.
No-Work Garden Book
This was the first book that really sold me on the importance of mulching. Maybe it was the words "No-Work" in the title that grabbed me, but I've been mulching ever since. This ones a classic.
Order Mulch Online or Get It Locally
This is clean straw, meaning you won't get weed seeds in with it.
Picking the Strawberries
The last and most enjoyable part is to pick the bright red, juicy, berries and eat them. Snip the stem with your fingers, being careful not to pull on the plant or break off unripe berries.
Photo by Virginia Allain
Here's the Refreshed Strawberry Bed
Every Few Years You'll Need to Renew the Patch.
Some years ago, I set out dozens of strawberry plants. The results this year disappointed me with small berries and not many at that.
Since some plants had died and others sent out runners, the strawberry patch was a mess. I didn't get around to fertilizing it in the spring, so the small berries are the result.
A few days ago I started on a total revamp of that garden. It's a raised bed but the soil was too high in there and it was mulched, so some of the rain would just run off.
First I dug up the remaining plants and set them aside. I removed enough soil to bring the bed down below the edges of the timbers outlining the patch. There were lots of tree roots running through the bed, and I removed as much as I could. That probably robs the plants of nutrients. I can't remove that beech tree, so the roots will probably continue to be a problem.
Down the middle of the planting area, I placed stepping stones (actually old firebricks) so it would be easier to pick without tiptoeing through the plants. I replanted half the bed adding cow manure as I worked, but then it started to rain.
Two days later, the rain has stopped. It settled the replanted section quite well but I need to finish planting the other half today if the soil isn't too muddy.
Once that is done and I mulch it, I'm finished. Here's hoping that next spring I have lots of big, juicy strawberries.