There are many ways to grow strawberries, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Selecting the bed type that fits your budget, garden space and desired level of maintenance is a simple matter of reviewing the options.
Clear polyethylene sheets of 30- to 36-inch width are placed over rows of strawberry plants. A slit is made in the plastic over the crown plant, and the plant is gently guided through the opening. The plastic acts as a mini greenhouse, warming the temperature of the soil beneath it and causing the plants to produce fruit earlier in the season. Other benefits of covered beds are less fruit rot and cleaner-looking fruit. Black polyethylene and other colors do not provide the early production benefit, but do contribute to less fruit rot and cleaner fruit.
Matted-row beds are made up of mother plants and their daughters. Each mother plant, spaced 18 to 24 inches apart down the length of the row and in its center, sends out runners. These runners put down roots, and new strawberry plants will emerge at that location. Rows are kept 48 inches apart. This method is not recommended for rows with a bed width of 20 inches or less, as daughter plants will attempt to spread beyond that boundary. The large row between should be kept free of runners and wandering daughter plants. The benefit is the ease of picking fruit from a matted bed, where the plants fill in the bed, year after year.
A raised bed is made by building up the planting bed with soil and organic matter to a depth of 3 to 4 inches above the normal soil level. This is the preferred method in areas where the soil is poor or water drainage is an issue. Because the raised bed allows better drainage, plants may need to be watered more frequently.
This bed starts with mother plants spaced 6 to 12 inches apart. Very few daughter plants are allowed to take root. The benefit is that more of the plants are mature and will begin producing fruit more quickly than by waiting for daughter plants to mature. The drawback is that more mother plants are needed to fill the bed.
A strawberry pyramid is a space-saving type of bed for growers with limited room. It is a terraced bed with 12 inches of growing width and 6 to 8 inches of soil depth. Plants are spaced 12 inches apart on each level. Because of the pyramid-like structure, water drainage causes these beds to require more frequent watering. The plants must also be covered and protected in the winter because the roots do not benefit from the surrounding soil to keep them warm. Materials to construct a strawberry pyramid can be more costly than those for other types of beds.