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Growing Strawberries in a Raised Bed

Updated on May 31, 2016
There's nothing prettier than seeing the first strawberries ready to pick in the spring.
There's nothing prettier than seeing the first strawberries ready to pick in the spring. | Source

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.


Cynthia Ross
Cynthia Ross

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

Source

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

Greenes 4 Ft. X 4 Ft. X 21 In. Tiered Cedar Raised Garden Bed
Greenes 4 Ft. X 4 Ft. X 21 In. Tiered Cedar Raised Garden 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.

pick-up load of dirt
pick-up load of dirt

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

3-Tier Strawberry Bed
3-Tier Strawberry Bed

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

We raised rabbits as a 4-H project and consequently had one of the best gardens around.
We raised rabbits as a 4-H project and consequently had one of the best gardens around. | Source

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.

This strawberry bed is slightly raised using landscape timbers. It's in New Hampshire and is mulched with red cedar mulch.
This strawberry bed is slightly raised using landscape timbers. It's in New Hampshire and is mulched with red cedar mulch. | Source

Can You Use Railroad Ties to Make a Raised Strawberry Patch?

Warning!

Creosote coated railroad ties can cause health problems when used in gardening.

What Are You Thinking to Use for the Raised Strawberry Bed?

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Raised Garden Made of Cedar

Greenes Fence 48-Inch x 96-Inch Cedar Raised Garden Bed
Greenes Fence 48-Inch x 96-Inch Cedar Raised Garden Bed

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.

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

Junebearing Strawberries Chandler 10 plants
Junebearing Strawberries Chandler 10 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?

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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.

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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

The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book: Secrets of the Famous Year-Round Mulch Method
The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book: Secrets of the Famous Year-Round Mulch Method

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

Ultra Nu-Straw Mulch
Ultra Nu-Straw Mulch

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

My bed is raised (single landscape rail) and with stepping stones so I can easily pick the berries. I've mulched with red shredded mulch.
My bed is raised (single landscape rail) and with stepping stones so I can easily pick the berries. I've mulched with red shredded mulch. | Source

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.

Are You a Strawberry Lover?

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    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 2 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      I don't have a garden any longer but I grow strawberries in hanging baskets and in patio containers and they do really well. thanks for sharing this

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 2 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Your sister has given me ideas! I have a few concrete blocks which would go very well as raised strawberry beds

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @CrossCreations: I tried the topsy turvy tomato plants and could see right away that there wasn't sufficient space for the roots. Total failure for me. Took the plants and put them in other containers with more root space.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Love the way you linked to Pinterest here, really looks great and the photos of different ways to grow strawberries are perfect. I've tried several ways including those topsy turvy upside down planters - a clever idea but one that requires A LOT of watering. Miss even one day of watering and plant can die.

    • kislanyk profile image

      Marika 4 years ago from Cyprus

      I love strawberries and I think this is a great guide for growing them.

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 4 years ago

      I love fresh strawberries and I have planted quite a lot in my garden. I like the idea to use raised beds.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @gottaloveit2: Ah-Ha, I have a page for that, called What Is Eating My Strawberries.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 4 years ago

      There's nothing like fresh strawberries but, here in MD, either the deer or my dogs get the ripest ones before I do.

    • Mamabyrd profile image

      Mamabyrd 4 years ago

      I planted strawberries with my girls this summer for the first time. I really hope we get some berries!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Australia

      I don't think I live in a happy climate for strawberries, but would love to implement your ideas for other herbs and vegetables.

    • profile image

      marsha32 4 years ago

      Well gosh...here I am again....still dreaming about a raised bed for the strawberries too!

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @rattie lm: If I have too many runners, I just snip them off and toss them in the compost. If I plan to use them elsewhere, I move them as soon as they seem well-rooted.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Thanks for all these great tips. I have a perfect spot for a strawberry patch, and some concrete blocks to make the raised bed. I think I can put a copper barrier around the blocks to keep the snails out--they ate my plants in a regular bed 2 years ago. (Love your strawberry angels at the bottom)

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @rattie lm: I transplant the runners once they have any roots at all. Sometimes I don't let them root in the ground. I put a small pot or peat pot where the runner is and pin the top to the soil in the pot. Then it roots there. Snip it from the parent plant once you think it has enough roots to sustain it.

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      @Steph Tietjen: Just pick the snails out on a daily basis. it works.

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      I'm wondering when the best time to dig strawberry runners from the garden is,. It's autumn here in the antipodes. Is that the correct time? If I don't do something soon we will be overrun with the plants.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      Strawberries are the one berry I've had problems with... which is a bummer, since they're sooo delicious. Perhaps a raised bed is the answer!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Well, another lens that taught me something I didn't know...love this idea. thanks.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      @Grandma-Marilyn: Sounds like you need a hanging planter for your strawberry plants. I gardened for 3 years in central Australia and we had shade cloth that we could roll out mid-day to protect our garden from the scorching sun.

    • Grandma-Marilyn profile image

      Grandma-Marilyn 6 years ago

      I would love to have one of these but we are so arid down here that the ants eat anything that has moisture in it.

    • profile image

      maerysgarden 6 years ago

      I like the idea of using concert blocks to make a raised bed. Nice lens

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 6 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      We have a raised strawberry bed at the side of our house. It has partial shade in the afternoon and does well when it's a hot summer.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I to Love Strawberries and I am about to start a new garden! I did't even think about growing Strawberries to the mix until just now and I will have Plenty of space for them!! But now I can create a Unique area just for them, thanks vallain!!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      If I still gardened, I'd be sure to use the information in this lens because my family loves strawberries. Excellent as usual, Virginia. Hope your sister sees the wisdom in writing on Squidoo quicker than I did.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      I might have strawberries on the patio, not sure what I'll plant yet as its the first time I'll be doing a 'patio garden'. I love fresh strawberries to eat .. -:)

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      look good enough to eat Virginia - I have strawberry plants in hanging baskets, works really well. Angel blessed and featured on my Angel blessed in May lens. (whispers - pssst - you have an empty new link list - but I won't tell anyone.) :0)