Soil and Moisture Considerations for Growing Strawberries
If you have your heart set on growing strawberries, then it is best to learn about the soil conditions required for a perfect growth.
In the temperate climates, strawberries are a late-spring crop planting. Though they should be started off in a cold-frame (a semi-greenhouse device that is actually on the ground, but also covers the ground with a glass cover and wooden walls) and “hardened” against sudden frosts (some frosts can still happen late into May in some areas), if you start your strawberry plants from a seed in a peat cup or pack you should soon see very good results once you have removed them from the cold frame.
Strawberries like a good mixture of mulch, sand, peat and decent soil to get a good start. They also prefer warm days and cool nights after their first ventures outside the cold frame. Indeed, they also like to be grown in raised beds where their suckers can run along the ground.
That’s one of the secrets to successful strawberry-growing, letting their side shoots or suckers, run along the bed, pinning and pinning them gently at intervals so that new plants can take root.
They Like Moisture (but Not too Much)
Strawberries can tolerate a good bit of dryness, if there are grown in a well-mixed mulch-based soil that retains its moisture well. Indeed, some have had great success with covering the ground with black plastic and poking holes through the plastic for the plants. This is only for the central plant bed as the suckers need room to run and spread. The black plastic, by the way, keeps the earth warm even if there is the occasional cold evening.
Strawberries like their moisture, but not in huge quantities; a simple seeping hose that puts down a measured amount of water seems to work best with strawberries. They are not like, say melons that require large amounts of water to be successful. Large amount of water will only lead to a failed strawberry crop.
So, if you are thinking of strawberries, the best advice would be:
- A good soil mix based on peat, sand, mulch and some loam
- A raised bed with central black plastic ground cover to help provide early warmth
- An early start in a cold frame to harden them off
- Encouraging runners or suckers to take root to help your strawberry patch grow
- A gentle amount of water, nothing overpowering, but enough to keep things somewhat moist
If you follow these steps, even with a new strawberry bed, you will find your results are surprisingly good. If you are lucky and the weather cooperates by providing a gentle warming through their blooming and picking period (end of June/ early July) you will be rewarded with a surplus of strawberries that are quite tasty and sweet.