How to start a Strawberry Bed-Zone 4 Strawberries
I was out hunting mushrooms and came across some ripe wild strawberries. They are so good but also so small. They are no match for the present day strawberry plants we have available today.
If you have wanted to start a strawberry bed but missed your opportunity this past spring. Get your garden area for the strawberries planned out for next spring. You can usually get a very good price on plants during a fall sale. The nursery you order them from will ship them to you at the proper planting time early next spring.
A strawberry bed can take many forms. If you don’t have a lot of space available you can make a strawberry pyramid with as little as 6 feet of ground. Or you can plant them in rows or hills.
Plant your berries in an area that has good exposure to the sun. Try to avoid low spots. Strawberries need to be planted in well-drained soil. Low spots also encourage the chances of early frost damage.
If you have the room planting on raised beds is usually a good option.
Test your soil- strawberries require a ph of 5.8 to 6.5. If you need to change the soil ph this fall is a good time to do it.
In the spring when you are ready to plant add one bushel of organic matter and 4 cups of 5-10-10 fertilizer for every 25 feet of growing area.
Start your strawberry patch with good virus-free plants. These are usually sold in bundles of 25. One or 2 bundles will usually give you a very good start. Choose a variety that is good for your growing area. If you live in zone 4 you want to choose varieties that will avoid a late frost. Better to have berries a little later in the season then no berries at all.
Plant as early in the spring as you can. Preferably on a cloudy day to keep the sun from damaging your new plants. If that’s not possible plant them in the evening. Start soaking the roots in water a couple hours before you start planting them. The roots should be trimmed to 4 or 5 inches. I take a pair of scissors into the garden with me to do the trimming as I am planting. Space the plants about a foot apart with the crown base at ground level. Water them very well after planting.
Keep your new strawberry bed as weed free as possible. Mulching berries is always a good idea. It will help keep the weeds down and the moisture in. Pinch off most of the blossoms the 1st year. This will allow the plant to put most of its energy into developing a good root system and some runners to increase the bed size. I like to leave enough blossoms to at least get a taste.
In the fall cover your patch with a layer of mulch to give them winter protection. 6 inches of hay or straw works very well. If you live in an area that gets heavy snowfall like I do that helps even more. I hardly ever loose plants to winter damage. With the right care the following summer you will have that awesome berry patch you always wanted.