Strawberries do best in a well-drained loamy soil where water can't stand on top of the soil. In areas where heavy or poor soils exist, the best solution is to make a raised bed with the proper type of soil conditions for the strawberries. Beds should be raised a minimum of 6 to 8 inches to ensure good drainage, but don't need to be more than 10 inches high since strawberries have shallow roots.
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Things you need
- Garden soil
- Aged compost or manure
- Slow-release fertiliser
- Newspapers or thick black landscaping plastic
- Landscaping timbers (optional)
- 15-inch-long pieces of rebar (optional)
- Hammer (optional)
- Nails (optional)
- Wooden stakes (optional)
- 2-by-8 or 2-by-10 lumber, cut to needed sizes (optional)
- Non-compacting organic mulch (optional)
Locate a good area for the raised bed. In temperate climates, full sun is best. In hot summer climates, half-day sun or partial shade is good. Mark out the boundaries of the bed. Length depends on the space available. For width, one row of strawberries requires 18 inches; for two rows, plan on 28 to 36 inches.
Till the soil in the bed area to remove weeds and grass and then cover it with a thick layer of newspapers or with black landscaping plastic. Mix garden soil and compost or rotted manure in equal parts.
Construct the raised bed several ways. One is by simply mounding prepared mix in the bed's boundaries with a raised soil berm to contain the bed, which should be levelled in the middle. Pack the outside soil firmly in place. Or use landscaping timbers, alternating the joints of the timbers through the length and width of the bed. If timbers are used, short lengths of rebar can be hammered into the ground outside the timbers to keep them from shifting. A frame also can be built of 2-by-8 or 2-by-10 lumber reinforced at the top and bottom corners by crosspieces and by stakes driven into the ground inside and outside the corner boards.
If using the framed beds, fill them with the mix of soil and organic materials. Water and allow the soil to settle. Add more mix if needed to bring soil level to an inch below the frame top.
Mix the slow-release fertiliser into the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. Plant the strawberry plants in rows down the length of the bed, keeping the plant's crown level with the top of the soil. Water the plants in well.
Tips and warnings
- Grow strawberries in areas that have not had tomatoes, eggplants, peppers or other solanaceous plants growing in them for at least three years, to avoid soil diseases those plants may carry.
- Water as needed or put in soaker hoses or drip irrigation (better for the fruit) to keep plants evenly moist throughout the growing season. In hot, dry climates, a non-compacting organic mulch helps even out and retain soil moisture.
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