New Strawberry Patch

Last year my wife tried to grow some strawberries in one of those upside-down hanging things that we got from the hardware store on a whim.  We got some plants, filled it with soil and waited.  What did we get out of it?  Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.  I used good potting soil, but after about a week the soil compacted to the point where water barely penetrated so the plants died off after that.  Not to mention this spring when I pulled it out to see if I could try again with it, the whole thing ripped in half.  Oh well it probably better that way.  Why? Cause it made me actually plan out and build a strawberry bed.  From what Ive read strawberries are pretty much like any other fruit or vegetable.  They want full sun, fertile well draining soil.  Also they shouldn’t be planted in a spot where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplants have been in for the last four years as strawberries are susceptible to verticillium wilt.  I chose a small area next to my backyard fence.  I also wanted to have raised beds, as that area is susceptible to a little water build up sometimes.  The raised beds also help keep the strawberries contained, as the runners can get out of hand if not regularly pruned.

The fence is about 40 feet long and I wanted the bed to be two feet wide.  I’ll only have access to the bed from one side (because the fence makes up one side of the raised bed framework) so it need to be thinner than most.  Also, once I realized how much soil it would take to fill a 40ft raised bed, I modified that idea.  I made the raised bed only 20 feet and I plan on extending it next year.  Last week I picked up 25 bare root Ozark beauty strawberry plants from the Backyard Abundance plant sale.  They are ever-bearing, meaning they  bear fruit all through the summer.  When I extend the bed I’ll probably put in some June bearing, which have one large harvest.  That way I’ll have some all through the summer while still having a larger harvest to make jams and for freezing.  So off to Menards I went and got a whole bunch of soil and lumber.  I used 4-10ft 1X6s, 4 2ft 1x6s (cut from an 8ft board), black plastic sheeting, wooden garden stakes, landscape stakes and a staple gun.  I built the frame by nailing the the 10ft boards to some garden stakes that I then pounded into the ground.  Then I dug a trench for the side boards and nailed them in place.  I probably should also add some brackets at the junctions to make sure everything stays together.  Then I laid down a layer of cardboard over top of the grass and added a layer of homemade compost.  All that was left to do was to fill it the rest of the way with bagged topsoil and compost and then plant the strawberries.  There is also the raspberry bush I bought a couple of months ago.  I’ll have to be careful not to let it get out of control, because if would eventually take over the whole bed if I let it.  I plan on pinching the first few rounds of flowers off so that the plants get established.  After that though I should be able to get a handful of strawberries this year.

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