We won't have Strawberry fields. We have tried that method of cultivation. It didn't work for us. Even raising the level of a row in a hump didn't help. The beds were always to wet. We have a built in water retention "pond". Just an inch or two under our soil is solid yellow clay. We are on a hill but that doesn't help because we have underground water which surfaces where ever it wants, especially when it is raining. Then there is the opposite problem when a dry spell hits the area dries up and looks like salt lake with in twenty four hours of sun and wind. I get cracks so big you can stick your thumb in them.
In 2008 we started a strawberry bed. This wasn't our first try but it was the one we changed planting strategies on. Previously we had tried the strawberry field row method. Twice it was a failure. We considered that we were the inept planters. The picture on the left is a young plant from the 2008 planting.
The plants had arrived before we were ready for them and we had to put them into pots or we'd loose them (we had never potted them before this). After potting we worked feverishly to make an area in the garden for them. We had a terrace we needed to grade to keep the water from washing down it into the green house. While working on the terrace I commented this was looking like a raised bed. I wondered if we could amend it and plant the Strawberries on the ridge.
That evening we went and re read everything we had on Strawberry culture. We googled even more. The next day armed with information both old and new we set out converting the terrace into a strawberry bed. Hauling buckets of sand, chips, peat and more peat, and great dirt from an abandoned compost area. For the next two months I tilled the area once a week regardless of whether it needed it or not. We wanted the area totally weed free. Weeds are the strawberry bed's worst nightmare (besides slugs).
The picture on the right is our first harvest in 2009. That planting not only survived two years it was still producing heavily for 5 years. We diligently weeded and mulched the bed and it paid us back for our efforts.
Fast forward to 2010. The bed is still producing and growing great. The bed is only 10 x 3 feet. We were picking a minimum of 6 quarts a day from it. The left picture is about 6 feet of that bed when it started blooming in 2010. The picture on the right is the first 6 boxes we picked off the bed in 2010.
This is our dessert plate that night. The next few weeks we were picking morning and night. I was making strawberry shakes, strawberry pies, freezing berries, and making preserves.
I can't tell you how much preserves I made because I was giving it away.
I did put back 48 jars for ourselves.
I have mentioned in 2011 we didn't garden. The rain never stopped and the heat kept getting hotter. It wasn't a good scene for strawberries. Each day we could see the bed dwindling. All sorts of fuguses were showing up rotting a plant here and another one there. Our terraced bed did not save them from being too wet. They never were able to dry off. We lost the whole bed, and any chance of starting a new bed from runners off the old plants.
We are now in the same desparate place as you are. We need to make a new bed. I have the plants, They are cozy in their pots. The following blog is about these plants:
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