Growing strawberries in raised beds
A homegrown strawberry is hard to top for a taste of British summer. Raised beds are a great way of growing strawberries, especially as it makes harvesting so much easier. Plus, it is great alternative if your garden soil is poor and heavy.
Growing strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) is a great way of introducing children to the delights of gardening since who can resist a fresh juicy strawberry on a hot summer’s day? Growing strawberries in raised beds has many advantages, including improved drainage, a more workable height, easy picking and it helps prevent them from spreading everywhere. Read on to find out more about how to plant and care for strawberries in raised beds.
- Can strawberries grow in a raised bed?
- Planting strawberries in raised beds
- How to care for raised bed strawberries
- Winterising strawberries in raised beds
Can strawberries grow in a raised bed?
Raised strawberry planters or beds can be made or purchased in a range of sizes and whether your raised bed is small and low or large and high, it is a great way to grow strawberries. What strawberries are ideal for growing in your raised bed depends on where it is located.
The most commonly grown strawberries here in the UK are summer fruiting varieties that crop from early to late summer depending on whether they are early, mid or late season cultivars. These varieties grow best in full sun. Perpetual, or everbearing strawberries also grow well in raised beds and like summer fruiting strawberries, they grow best in full sun.
If your raised bed is in the shade, the smaller alpine strawberry (Fragaria vesca) is a better choice as they can tolerate shade far better than the sun loving varieties, which may struggle to produce a good harvest in the shade.
Planting strawberries in raised beds
Planting strawberries in raised beds is no different to planting them directly in the ground with potted and bare root varieties available from spring until autumn.
What is the best soil for strawberries in raised beds?
Strawberry plants prefer a fertile, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. When it comes to filling a raised bed for growing strawberries, use a good quality and peat free multi-purpose compost or a specialised compost mix such as our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, which is nutrient rich to get your strawberry plants off to a great start.
- Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables such as chillies, courgettes & more
- For strong & healthy plant growth as well as an abundant vegetable harvest
- Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition
Strawberry plant spacing
When growing strawberries in raised beds or troughs, one common mistake is trying to cram in too many young plants, which, in time, will become overcrowded. Strawberry plants are typically grown in rows and grow best when spaced 30 – 40 cm apart with 75 cm between rows.
What to plant with strawberries in raised beds
Many gardeners have practised companion planting or growing specific plants alongside other crops for their mutual benefit for years. Growing companion plants together not only naturally deters pests and encourages pollinators, but it also boosts the soil. Beneficial companion plants for strawberries include:
Dwarf bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): Dwarf beans are good partners to grow with strawberries. As they are legumes, they can deposit nitrogen back into the soil, helping the strawberries to thrive and because they are short, they will not cast shade over the strawberry plants.
Borage (Borago officinalis): The herb borage is a great companion plant for growing with strawberries as its beautiful blue flowers are loved by beneficial pollinators. Borage is even said to enhance the strawberry’s flavour.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Chives and other alliums are commonly grown as companion plants for strawberries as not only does their allium aroma help deter pests that can attack strawberries, but once cut back after flowering, their foliage can be used to mulch the strawberries.
Not all plants are good companions for strawberries though. So, do not plant the following together:
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata): Cabbages and most other brassicas should not be planted with strawberries as they compete for soil moisture and nutrients, impairing the strawberry’s growth and fruit production.
Potato (Solanum tuberosum): Strawberry plants are susceptible to verticillium wilt, a fungal disease caused by Verticillium dahliae and alboatrum fungi. Potatoes and some other Solanum family members can be infected by this fungal disease and may actually encourage verticillium wilt to grow, which is why is best not to grow these plants together and to also avoid growing them one after another.
How to care for raised bed strawberries
Strawberry plants grown in raised beds, like those grown in pots and containers, will require more frequent watering and feeding than those grown in the ground.
Strawberries prefer a moist, well-drained soil and will need frequent watering when getting established and during hot, dry spells. When watering, it is critical to water at the base of the plants to prevent wetting the foliage and fruit, which could lead to fungal disease if they constantly wetted.
When the strawberry plants begin to flower, spread straw mulch or lay a fabric mat between them to help conserve moisture and suppress weeds with the added bonus of keeping the fruit clean.
Strawberry plants are hungry feeders, requiring high levels of potassium and nitrogen to encourage strong growth and flavoursome fruits. It is best to apply a slow-release and balanced fertiliser in spring or at the time of planting, and especially when grown in a raised bed. Use a high potassium liquid feed every fortnight when the plants are actively growing and producing fruit. Our plant-based Plantura Liquid Tomato Food is ideal as it provides the necessary nutrients and is easy to apply when watering. For more detailed information on how to feed strawberry plants, check out our other article.
- Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables
- Liquid fertiliser for healthy plant growth & an abundant harvest
- Quick & easy application - child & pet friendly
How to protect your strawberries from birds
As with all strawberries, the plants may need some protection from pests, especially birds and squirrels, who may nibble on your prized fruits before you do. It is best to drape netting over the plants, plus it is pretty easy to do with a raised bed.
Strawberry plants, despite their small size, do require some pruning at the end of the season. In early autumn, cut off any old leaves using a clean and sharp pair of secateurs, which will not only tidy up the raised bed but also remove any dead parts that could harbour disease.
Winterising strawberries in raised beds
Strawberry plants are fairly hardy and should be able to withstand our UK winters due to their H6 rating. However, they may struggle with cold wet soils and severe frosts. So, you may need to winterise strawberries in raised beds by providing some protection, especially if you live in a frost pocket.
If grown in a well-drained raised bed, waterlogged soils should not be a problem, but in winter when frost is forecasted, place a temporary layer of fleece over your strawberries plants to protect them.
Raised beds are ideal for growing strawberries in and hopefully you will have a bumper harvest to look forward to. Read our article for tips on how to harvest, store and preserve strawberries.