How to Grow Strawberries: Planting A Strawberry Bed

Uploaded by TheUniversityofMaine on 31.08.2011

  [music] David Handley:  Hello. My name is David Handley.
I'm with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. I am their vegetable and small
fruits specialist. In the next few minutes we are going to talk about planting a strawberry
bed. Now, the first thing you need to think about when you are going to plant a strawberry
bed in your garden is to have your soil tested. The soil pH should be around 6.2. Your soil
test will tell you what needs to be done. You can see a video on that on our website.
Once the soil is tested and you've got the fertilizer put in at the rates that the soil
test recommends, then you are ready to plant. Typically, in Maine, we are planting usually
in May. But we can go as late as June. After that it's hard to get good plant quality.
The soil temperatures are so high that the plants will be a little stressed.
So really, as soon as you can work the soil in the spring, that's the time to plant. The
plants themselves are very tolerant of cold soil temperatures. So you don't need to worry
about that. Now, when you buy your plants from a nursery,
order them from a nursery or buy them from a store, this is typically what you're going
to get. These are called dormant crowns. These are actually living strawberry plants.
They consist of this area here, which is called the crown, and then hopefully a nice healthy
root system underneath it. The crown itself is just a compressed stem. It has a terminal
bud, which is going to produce leaves and eventually some flowers and fruit for you
and then a bunch of axillary buds, which go down along the side.
These produce little branches, which in some cases are going to be runners. We are going
to use those runners to fill out the plant bed. Sometimes there will be branch crowns.
So it would just be like a mini crown on the side here. Those will produce more fruit for
you. So we want some of those too. But initially, what you should look for is
some green tissue or white tissue on the top. The crowns themselves should be firm, not
mushy. They should have a nice creamy, yellow look to the roots. They shouldn't be black
and they shouldn't have mold on them. If they do, there has been some problem in storage
or in transport. You should take those back and get some nice, healthy plants to start
off with. So as I say, these dormant crowns should be
planted in the soil as the spring gets started in May. Typically what we are going to use
is a matted row production system. This is a perennial system, where we plant the first
year and use the daughter plants or runners that come from these crowns to fill up the
space between them to give us a nice full bed for fruiting next year.
So, to plant them, we just take a crown and put them in the soil. Dig a nice hole with
a trench in your pre‑prepared soil. Place that in. You want to dig the hole deep enough
so that you're not compressing the roots. You don't want the roots to bend up like this.
You want them to stay straight out. Now, if there are some long, straggly roots
that make that job difficult, you can always take some scissors and just trim them. You
don't want cut off too much. Don't cut off more than 25% of the total length. But just
trim them up so they are nice and even. Then you can just put them in that whole. The depth
that you want to plant them is such that the soil comes to about halfway up that crown.
So when we plant the strawberries, you want the soil depth to be right about here. We
don't want to bury the growing point, because you will kill the plant. These aren't seeds.
They are not bulbs. They are growing plants. We don't want to bury them too shallow, because
if the roots are exposed the plant will dry out. So dig that hole deep enough to bring
them to about halfway up the crown. Then just firm the soil around them a little bit. You
don't have to leave a big pit there, because that will collect too much water. But firm
the soil around those, so that when the rain hits it, it won't wash it down and expose
those roots. Now, your spacing on planting in a matted
row should be about 18 inches apart, as you see here. What's going to happen is, as these
plants produce runners, we will root those runners between these mother plants and on
either side of them to fill out that bed. We can just go down the row.
The trowel works pretty well. But we've also come across a nice method of planting strawberries.
This is just a piece of eight inch flat bar that we put a little bend in. You can see
we have carved a little nook on it. These aren't sharp. But they are rounded.
One of the ways to plant strawberries that I think goes a lot faster ‑ I'll move to
my next 18 inch spot here and trim this root up ‑ is I just place my strawberry right
where I want it and I just grab about a half‑inch of the root here. I don't want to grab the
plant up here. I just want to get enough so that it will pull the plant down.
Then I hold this straight up and down and just apply pressure down into the soil and
push down. This method is really quick. It will move you along the soil really quickly.
We can plant a lot of strawberries. If you are only planting a few, a trowel works just
fine. But if you've got a lot of strawberries ahead, a little simple tool like this can
really speed the process up for you. Now, we have talked about how to plant in
the row. Between your rows, you can see behind me, I have already got a row planted here.
You need about four feet, because we are going to allow these rows to get out to about two
feet wide on each side. We want to maintain a nice aisle way to be able to walk through
here and be able to pick the berries next year on this side without standing in the
bed on that side. So, four feet between your rows. About 18
inches between your plants in the row. Once you know your varieties, if you have a variety
that you know is not going to produce very many runners ‑ these would be varieties
like All Star for example ‑ you can cheat them in a little bit. Maybe plant them as
close as a foot apart. If you are growing varieties that you know
produce an awful lot of runners, you can actually save money by buying fewer plants and spacing
them further apart. These would be varieties such as Sparkle. You can learn more about
varieties at the Cooperative Extension website. Now, after we get our strawberry bed planted,
we need to take care of them for the remainder of that season. One important thing to note
is that we are not going to pick a crop in the first year. These are some strawberries
that were planted about four weeks ago. The ones that we just planted will be looking
like this in about a month. You can see they've grown. They will kick out a few leaves. But
the other thing they will do is they will start kicking out these flower clusters.
Now, in the planting year, we want to remove these flower clusters. It's very simple. You
just follow the stalk back. Just pinch it off between your thumb and forefinger. Throw
it down there. You want to do this when the flowers are still
in the bud stage and are just starting to open, because this stem tissue will be nice
and tender and it pinches off really easily. If you wait until there is big, red fruit
hanging off here, this stem becomes very woody. Then you're going to have to go through there
with scissors or clippers. It's going to take you a lot longer.
But we just pinch that off. The reason we do that is because we want to encourage this
plant to develop daughter plants or runners. You can see that right here in the plant next
to it. These are already starting to kick out their daughter plants.
So we don't want fruit in the first year. We want to tell the plant to concentrate on
vegetative growth, because we are going to use these runners to fill all the spaces between
these plants and the top of the bed. We want the final bed to be about 18 inches to two
feet wide. We don't want to get any wider than that.
So if they start slipping off to the edge here, we just hold them back in place. You
can do that with just a clump of soil or use a little rock. Some people like to use the
old‑fashioned hairpins to hold them in place. But this will force them to root. Then we
will have a nice, solid bed. That will flower next spring and give us our fruit in June.
So pinch those flowers in the first year. Get those runners going. We'll take a look
a little later at some runner development and how to pin those in place.
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