How to build & plant a raised bed for strawberries in one afternoon, Mother’s Day edition…with toddlers running around.
Strawberry jam, strawberry cobbler, strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, strawberry wine, strawberries and cream. 🍓🍓🍓 Never met a strawberry I didn’t like.
So for Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to plant my own strawberry bed. And since I ain’t getting any younger, I wanted it to be a tall, dedicated raised bed that we could build in a single afternoon.
One amazon delivery and a trip to town later, here we are:
Ahhhhhhhhhh cue golden beams and self-proclaimed strawberry satisfaction.
How to build a raised bed and plant it in one afternoon:
First watch this video and get all the feels:
Then keep reading for all the details.
I chose the Greens Fence Original Pine Raised Garden Bed. It’s on Amazon for $200 (and proudly Made in the USA). With the current price and scarcity of lumber, it was a great buy. This option is made with untreated American pine lumber, and measures 4’x8’x17.5″D.
They have other sizes and a cedar option as well! Check those out here.
All models come with corner posts that have dovetailed joints. The board sides of the bed literally slide in, no tools required.
Before we built my raised bed, we first prepped the ground.
How do you prep the ground for a raised bed?
First, remove as much grass and plant debris as possible. JR, (my husband), used a tiller to break up the sod. Rake away the grass and roots as best you can. You don’t want pesky weeds growing up through your bed.
He then leveled the ground to create a flat surface for the bed to sit on. (Farm-boy action in full force at this point 😆.) He made a little trench with a mattock and level. If your ground is already level, lucky you. Skip this step.
How to assemble the raised bed:
Starting with two posts, slip the boards into the slotted joints. Each side gets 5 boards on this particular bed. Remember I wanted it to be tall? Work your way around the perimeter of the bed and across the center to complete all walls. Note: My model uses double stacked posts to get the finished height. One board laps the two posts’ joint to secure them together. Shorter models have a single, solid post.
Once you get the walls up, use a tape measure to ensure the bed is square. Pull the tape from one corner to the other (like an x). Make sure the two measurements are the same. If the measurements do not match, the bed is not square. Simply adjust the bed until it is so…Wiggle wiggle.
Each post is finished with a flat decorative cap. Use the provided screws to attach them.
Preparing to plant the berries in your assembled bed:
First, line the bed with a weed barrier. I used landscaping fabric. Cardboard is another great, inexpensive option. Just be sure to add a layer to prevent weeds from entering your raised garden.
Add the soil. You will need to calculate how much garden soil your bed requires. Depending on the model you purchase, your needs will vary greatly.
Gardener’s Supply Company has a fantastic soil calculator for all my non-math people out there (like me). Simply enter your bed measurements, and it will figure the soil amount necessary for your project.
My bed required a ton of soil..ok, not a literal ton (roughly 22 cubic feet or 6 bales of soil). And of course, the garden center was sold out of actual garden soil during my visit. So I bought all-purpose soil instead. The all-purpose is more expensive and totally unnecessary. Buy the garden soil bags for this project. 👍🏻 Add compost if you’ve got it!
Now dump the soil into the bed. Fluff that black gold and make sure none is left compressed or clumped. Massage it; run your hands through it; act like you love your new soil.
Once it’s leveled you are ready to plant!
How to plant strawberries:
Strawberries are so unique. They are basically queens that wear crowns…Really they have actual crowns!
Each start is referred to as a mother plant. The mother plant has a crown in the center of the foliage. Everything grows from the crown. (And I got them for “Mother’s Day.” So fitting.)
When you plant these mothers, do not cover their crowns. Otherwise, the plant will rot and die. So be sure to keep the soil level at the proper height around each plant.
Each strawberry (mother) plant will produce daughter plants. (oh my, how cute is that?!) Those are the little runners that you see sprawling and vining from my plants. The runners are how the strawberry plants spread and reproduce.
Allot 18” around each plant to allow for daughter plants to take root and increase your berry production.
Ideally, keep each plant limited to 3 daughter vines for maximum production. Or judge the spread by your actual spacing and bed. Overtime, the bed will get overtaken by plants if you don’t cut back some of the daughter plants, (which results in less strawberry yields).
Add Protection for your strawberries:
After your berries are planted, mulch the soil with straw to keep the fruit clean and maintain even moisture levels.
I plan to hoop and net my bed this week too, as soon as the amazon truck comes again… I will update this post with photos once I complete those tasks. It’s vital you add a bird net, otherwise birds will devour your berries when they find them. Find my nets here.
More Important Info:
The variety of berry I chose is called ever-bearing, which means it will produce all summer long, likely providing 3 good harvests. One in late spring, one mid-summer, and one late summer/early fall. We live in Southern Ohio, Zone 6A for reference.
Strawberries are perennial plants, which means they will die out in the fall/winter and come back in the spring year after year. However, after 4-5 years, your plants will likely need to be replaced due to disease or low yields. Here’s hoping we can beat the odds!
Pick your berries in the early morning when the fruit is still cool, before the day gets hot. Berries should be fully red, no green tips when harvesting. Be sure to remove any spent berries from your plants to reduce your risk of mold and plant rot. Harvested strawberries will only last a few days at most in the refrigerator.
Stay tuned for how my crop goes this year.
Fast forward a couple months:
The strawberry plants are producing more berries than we can eat! I am harvesting roughly a 1/2-1 pint of berries every day.
It’s impressive to see the amount of growth in one season thus far. I expect we will be thinning our plants sooner than expected. The daughter plants are spreading rapidly.
We used left-over building materials to create a frame for the bird netting. This is PEX plumbing pipe; regular PVC pipe would be excellent to use in its place.
The berries have a very short shelf-life. My experience is you have 24-48 hours to eat, cook, or preserve the ripe berries. Our favorite uses so far have been: waffle & ice cream topping, strawberry shortcake, fruit pizza, strawberry bread, and simply eating them straight off the vine.
My family agrees, we have never tasted a sweeter berry. The Mother’s Day gift that keeps on giving!
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