Creating a new strawberry bed

You can plant strawberries in lots of different places, in pots, window boxes or special strawberry planters, in hanging baskets where they are kept well away from slugs and snails (though they do need lots of water, I tried it once), you can use a raised bed, or if like me you are the lucky caretaker of a rare, sacred allotment plot, then you can create a strawberry bed. Here’s my technique:

Step 1: Select your site and remove all the weeds, either with a hoe, if they’re not too bad, or dig the whole bed over with a fork if it’s very weedy. Then rake and level the ground out as much as possible.

Step 2: Decide on the overall size of the bed you want (in my case, just less than 1m wide by about 4m long). Use a spade to define the edges, by digging a shallow trench around each side. The earth can be piled up in the middle of the bed to raise it slightly. Dig in some good stuff, I added some blood, fish and bonemeal. You could use some manure, or anything slightly acid, as is the preference of strawberries, such as coffee grounds or pine needles.

Step 3: Use some weed suppressing fabric to cover your bed. This will save you a lot of weeding time, and also act as a mulch to hold in the water, and once the strawberries fruit it means they won’t be sitting on damp soil where they are prone to rot, or just get covered with mud when it rains. Tuck the edges into the trench and backfill in order to hold it in place.

Step 4: Place your strawberries out on top of the fabric, so you can work out an even spacing.

Step 5: Once you are happy with their places, cut a cross into the fabric and plant the strawberry through the hole. Be sure not to cover the crown (the base of the main stem, where the new shoots are sprouting from) with earth, they should be planted at the same depth as they were in their pots.

Step 6: Water each strawberry thoroughly. Then stand back and admire your work.

They may seem a bit widely spaced, but I plan to propagate them over the next 3 years. Strawberries are very easy to propagate from the small baby ‘runners’ that they send out. However, in the first year, you should really cut most of these off in order to build up the plants energies. I might only take a few in the first year. Year 2 is when strawberry plants are at their most productive, and then you can allow them to reproduce a bit more. In year 3 strawberries are in their twilight years, and become less productive, and should therefore be replaced, after they’ve fruited, with the new kids on the block (or in the bed). So I will use the spaces in between these plants, for the newbies.

I will also be putting some chicken wire frames over the bed once they start flowering, to keep off the birds. And I may also need to put down some organic slug pellets, just around each plant, as the fabric does seem to act as a perfect hiding place for those slugs! Little devils, they can’t fool me.

As for the varieties I have planted, it’s a real mixture. Some Alice babies from my previous plants, and then some Honeoye, Hapil, Emily, and Pegasus. I will see which ones perform best (and taste good) and only take the runners from the ones I like. I’ll let you know the outcome.

3 comments

  1. I love strawberries. I’d love a proper strawberry bed but due to space constraints I grow all mine in pots and containers. but it works and I’ve had them all through the winter. My strawberry plants dont seem to give off many runners.

    I like the idea of using the black cover. I’ve been using the plastic net onion bags (don’t laugh) to put on the ground to keep the earth of the strawberries.

    Good luck with your strawberry bed and look forward to following your progress!

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    • Using onion bags sounds like a great idea! Anything that does the job is fine, and the thriftier the better in my view. Maybe if you give them a bit of tomato feed when they’re fruiting, they may produce more runners? Though you may find they produce more in their second year if they’re only 1 year old. I should have said to make sure to pot them and get them rooting before you cut the stem that attaches them to the mother plant. You probably knew that already! Can’t wait for strawberries.

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      • The tomato feed sounds a good idea. I’m worried about some of my litle strawberry plants because they are now in second year and have been bearing fruit continually since last summer without a rest. I have some root barrier left over so think will experiment using this as well as the onion bags. See which works best.

        I have successfuly planted up some runners of the biggest, sweetest and best fruiting strawberries. Strange I only have had a few runners. However I had to throw a lot of plants away last year as they got mealy bug.

        I need to buy some tomato feed so good suggestion 🙂

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