(For making the soil composition in your strawberry bed the best it can be, see the "What Is the Best Soil for Strawberry Plants?" page on this website.)
Strawberry plants like full sun, so the bed will do best on a southern slope in the northern hemisphere, or on a northern slope in the southern hemisphere. Also, the bed should be free of trees and other things that would shade the plants.
However, it would be good if the bed was made in an area sheltered from the wind. A bed surrounded by trees, but with those trees far enough from the bed to prevent shading, is a good option.
If possible, the land for the bed (as well as land next to it) should not have been used for farming or gardening for at least two years, and preferably longer. This is because recent gardening will likely have led to infection of the soil by various troublesome fungi and by infestation from pest worms and insects.
After choosing it's location, you need to know how to build a strawberry bed. Many people simply plow and till the ground and then plant their strawberry plants. This can work, but you don't really know how to plant strawberries properly until you know how to make a proper strawberry bed.
If possible, you should grow a good cover crop on the area for your strawberry bed before planting strawberries. Ideally you would plant a disease-resistant cover crop, such as alfalfa, two years before planting strawberries in the bed. This plant cover would be tilled into the soil after it reached maturity.
Whether you have time for that or not, the year before you start a strawberry bed you should till the soil of the bed weekly. This tilling should begin in early spring and continue as long as weather permits. Doing this will help to control weeds, soil pests, and diseases in the soil, as well as improving the decomposition of the plants that are tilled into the soil.
Once you've prepared the soil in your strawberry plot you'll be ready to plant the strawberries. How to plant strawberries at this point depends on how you want to maintain your strawberry bed. There are two basic designs, matted-row and hilled.
If you won't have much time to maintain your strawberry patch then you may want a matted-row strawberry bed. Plant your strawberries in flat rows about 18 inches (45 cm) apart--far enough apart to walk through easily. Also plant the strawberry plants in the rows at 18 inch (45 cm) intervals.
As the plants grow, you will leave any runners they form and allow them to produce daughter strawberry plants. If you have time, you may want to pull the runners back into the strawberry rows and out of the aisles between the rows.
The advantages of growing strawberry plants in matted-rows include the relative ease with which such beds can be maintained. Matted-rows also provide better protection for plants during cold winters as well as allowing the plants to runner, thus greatly reducing the need for buying replacement plants. The biggest disadvantage is that the plants are unlikely to produce as much as they would if they were grown in hills.
If you can spend more time on bed maintenance and want to get more production out of your strawberry bed then you might want to grow your strawberry plants in hills.
In hilled beds, the plants are set in rows 2 or 4 plants wide, with 18 inch (45 cm) aisles between the rows. The rows are raised into hills 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) high. The plants are often set 12 inches (30 cm) apart or less, which is much closer together than the 18 inch (45 cm) distances between plants in matted rows.
Because the strawberry plants are raised, there is better drainage of the soil. This is good for the plants, but it necessitates increased watering. Also, the raising of the soil into hills places the strawberry plants much more at risk of damage do to winter "heaving" (the freezing and cracking of soil, which is damaging to plant roots).
It is difficult to make plant runners stay out of the aisles in hilled row beds and the runners are typically cut off. Removing the runners will increase the energy available for making fruit, so the strawberries on hilled plants will be larger. However, it requires a substantial amount of time and effort to cut the runners.
The disadvantages of growing strawberries using hills include the need for increased watering, the higher plant replacement costs (especially in places with cold weather), and the greater amount of maintenance effort required (such as cutting runners). The greatest advantage of hilled beds is a larger harvest, due to more plants being grown in the same amount of space (since the plants are grown closer together) and the energy of the plants being directed into producing larger berries (by cutting the plants' runners).
(For more information on what is involved in caring for strawberry plants, see the "Strawberry Plant Care" page on this website.)
Once you have a bed for your strawberry plants, you are ready for the most obvious part of how to plant strawberries, the actual planting itself.
Make a hole in the strawberry bed just slightly larger than necessary to hold the plant's "rootball" (the plant's roots and the soil surrounding them). Gently remove your plant from it's container. You should be careful not to damage the roots any more than is necessary, as they break easily. Nevertheless, you should lift the plant by it's rootball, and not by it's stem.
Raise and lower the rootball in the hole, adding soil back into the bottom of the hole as necessary until the top of the rootball is level with the surface of the strawberry bed. After doing that, fill in the remaining gap between the side of the rootball and the side of the hole.
At this point, the top (and only the top) of the rootball should still be exposed. Give the plant a little water, and you're done!
Now you know how to build a strawberry bed, and how to plant strawberries in it! Please remember that you learned how to plant strawberry plants here at
StrawberriesForStrawberryLovers.Com, Home of the World's Happiest Fruit!
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