Soil Types for Growing Strawberries
Strawberry plants will produce fruit in almost any kind of soil. The amount, size and quality of the fruit however, may depend upon the soil type. Strawberries will do better in some types of soils than others, but that does not mean you are stuck with whatever soil you have. Most soil types can be augmented to enhance their nutrient composition, pH factor and water retention properties. In cases where adjusting the soil composition is too difficult or costly, raised beds and container plantings may be a viable solution.
Strawberries prefer acidic soil. Fortunately this is something that can be tested and then augmented if necessary. The desired pH for strawberries is 5.8 to 6.5. Soil supplements such as lime and fertilizers can be added as determined by the results of the soil test. A soil test can often be done at your local extension office. These should be worked into the soil prior to planting if possible.
Strawberries are fragile when it comes to water drainage. If the soil does not drain well, the roots can rot, literally drown. Clay soils are notorious for poor drainage and should be worked over at least a year before planting strawberries. Plant a green cover crop like oats, rye or sudan grass and till it under to introduce organic matter into the soil. Grass clippings, dried leaves and other organic matter can help break up the soil. An alternative to this would be to use raised beds or the hill method of planting strawberries.
Strawberries can grow in sandy soils but because the sandy soil provides great drainage, the amount of water and fertilizer given will need to be checked frequently. Sandy soil tends to let these drain away more quickly than other soil types. Close attention will have to be paid to the plants to maintain good health. Often adding organic matter will improve the soil.
Loam soil is the perfect blend of sand, clay and organic matter and strawberries thrive in it. Loam soil provides the proper balance of drainage and moisture retention. If the soil is not ideal, a soil test can reveal what is needed to improve the composition. Augmenting the soil based on the results of the test is the best way to go.