How to Plant a Strawberry Bed:
Growing your own strawberries is an easy and rewarding gardening venture. Strawberries are hardy perennial plants that if cared for properly will produce an abundance of berries for four to five years, after which they should be replaced. No matter how much space you have available you can grow your own strawberries. Strawberries are very versatile, and can be planted in a variety of ways including in patio containers, in hanging baskets, in vegetable gardens or in raised beds. Our favorite method of growing strawberries is in a raised bed. Regardless of where you grow your strawberries, locate your strawberry bed in a location that will receive full sun for the majority of the day and in an area that also has convenient access to water. If you have deer or rabbit problems, you will want to keep your strawberry bed protected.
There are two different types of strawberries; standard (June bearing) and everbearing. June bearing strawberries such as Allstar provide a large crop all at once and are ideal for jams or freezing, and tend to be the better quality berries. Everbearing strawberry varieties such as Ozark Beauty and Ft. Laramie will produce throughout the summer for desserts and snacking. For best results we recommend planting both types of strawberries.
Strawberries require good drainage and perform best in a sandy loam soil. If you are planting strawberries directly in the ground amend and prepare your soil properly to ensure good drainage and soil fertility. Stay clear of 'hot' manure such as fresh horse, cow or chicken manure that can burn and damage delicate strawberry plants. If you are using a raised bed, prepare your raised bed with a good quality potting soil that also contains perolite for good drainage. Incorporate a quality organic fertilizer such as Down to Earth All Purpose fertilizer in at a rate of 1lb per 100 sq ft.
Plant strawberry plants 18" apart in rows 3’ – 4’ apart. When planting strawberries make sure that the crown is above the soil level and that the uppermost roots are at least 1/4" below the soil level. As strawberries grow they will produce runners that will spread out and root to produce additional plants. Position the first runners with approximately 6” of spacing between them. Only allow a few runners per plant, after which remove additional runners to promote crown growth. A well established strawberry row should be approximately 24" wide.
Water you strawberries consistently throughout the growing season. Strawberry plants require 1"-2" of water per week. Fertilizer the strawberry plants with Maxi-crop liquid fertilizer at 3 week intervals during the growing season to promote growth and berries. Harvest your strawberries the same day that you will eat or use them; once picked strawberries will not continue to ripen.
Thin strawberry beds every year in the early fall by narrowing the rows to 6" -12" and mowing or cutting back the plants to 1" above the crowns. Thinning or renovating your strawberry bed will encourage productivity for years to come.
Applying a covering of mulch over the strawberry bed prior to winter is recommended for USDA gardening zone 6 or below. Mulching is the time honored way to help strawberries survive even the coldest of winters. When low temperatures drop below 28 degrees F. outside apply a covering mulch of several inches of straw or some similar material. Although early spring frosts can cause damage to strawberries you will want to remove the winter mulch early in the spring. If there is a threat of a late frost cover the bed with a tarp, frost cloth or row cover at night.
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