Ask a Question forum: Strawberry bed from scratch

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Name: Kathy
Arkansas (Zone 8b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Region: Arkansas Region: Louisiana Garden Ideas: Level 1
Jan 6, 2018 2:01 PM CST
I have ordered 6 bundles of 25 crowns per bundle (150) bareroot All-Star strawberry plants. They will be shipped to me mid to late March. I have 2 areas I'm looking at for them. I'm not sure if I'll build raised beds or plant in the ground & border somehow to keep the plants contained. I do plan to clear out all the brush & use a field trimmer to cut the grass & brush to the ground. Then wet the area & cover with plastic. When the plants arrive, I'll remove the plastic. This is to kill any seeds or roots.

I have compost to add plus I plan to use my riding mower to chop leaves & pine straw, & I will add soil, etc.

Is this plausible? Opinions, advice, etc. most welcomed!

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Jan 6, 2018 7:48 PM CST
I doubt you will kill the seeds and roots with black plastic this time of year - they will probably think spring has arrived early and sprout under your plastic.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Jan 7, 2018 7:56 AM CST
I agree, I don't think you have enough time for that to work. Planting the strawberries and having weeds and grass come up later would be a nightmare.
It all sounds great - except for the existing stuff coming backup.
I think you at least need to make good clear rows, and use row cover in between. Even then, if the grass is well established, it may creep out to the rows.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Kathy
Arkansas (Zone 8b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Region: Arkansas Region: Louisiana Garden Ideas: Level 1
Jan 7, 2018 3:20 PM CST
Here's one area
Thumb of 2018-01-07/Kathy547/266d8b

2nd area
Thumb of 2018-01-07/Kathy547/dfa3d5

Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
Jan 9, 2018 1:19 AM CST
@kathy547 When I bought a couple acres in WA many moons ago, I did what you want to do. What I did was - I left the plastic in place, and planted the strawberry plants in holes I cut into the plastic. It worked great. I cut holes big enough, so that they would get watered with a sprinkler, then dealt easily with any weeds that came up in the cut out hole where the strawberry lived.

I got a bunch of free plastic from a local dairy farmer. Don't know if you are in an area where you have access to a dairy farmer, or any other livestock owner who puts his manure in those giant white plastic tubes. But, that plastic is thick and white on one side and black on the other. They usually will have ends that they cut off and will give away or sell the end pieces. It's so tough, I actually wrapped a framed shed in it and it survived the winter easily.

You'll want something that won't disintegrate into a bunch of pieces you'll end up dealing with in your soil forever. Ask me how I know... Smiling

If dealing with weeding them on hot black plastic in the summer won't be comfortable, you could put straw or mulch down on top of the black plastic to create a walkway in-between the rows.

Where I live in CA now, there are massive fields of strawberries covered in plastic, like these in Watsonville:

Thumb of 2018-01-09/Zuni/467214

From this webpage:

That's actually a really interesting article about CA strawberry growers and how they manage disease, etc. And the photo is from a research field in Watsonville, where they are growing the strawberries in coco coir fibers instead of soil, because fungi don't live in it, so it avoids those types of diseases. Interesting. Also, a little disturbing to learn that most of the CA strawberries are actually grown in fumigated soil - kinda making me rethink eating non-organic strawberries...

[Last edited by Zuni - Jan 9, 2018 1:50 AM (+)]
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