Strawberries in raised beds

steseaqFebruary 27, 2009

Hi all,

I'm new to the site and new to growing strawberries. I've enjoyed reading the post's and I'm hoping to gain from the collective wisdom here! :)

My question is, will strawberry roots be damaged if planted in raised beds (suspended) and left to over-winter? I'm in northern Wisconsin and am subject to wicked winter cold. Any thoughts?



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mitanoff(Z4b Ontario)

Hey Steve:
Well, give me a another month (plz, let it be only one more month of the white stuff!) and I'll be able to tell you. I have a raised 8'x3'x8" bed which I planted half full of strawberries last year. I've had temps in the -30C range (today is -28C) so I think that would qualify as wicked cold. :>
Can't tell you what variety. I bought a 12 root pak at the hardware store on impulse last year. Said it would bear in the following year.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:56AM
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Thanks Mitanoff,

Ontario - more of the "wicked" stuff than we get. It got down to -10F last month.

Is your raised bed on legs? I have raised beds that I built up on legs to make it easier for my elderly father to continue gardening. 4'x8'x10" on 3' legs. My worry is that the root will not be protected (tough to mulch underneath) and subject to the wicked stuff. I'll be interested to know how your's turn out.

Thanks for writing!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 4:04PM
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don_brown(Zone 6A NS)

Here are a couple of tips for raised beds, which work well for beds that are sitting on the ground, as opposed to planters sitting above the ground on "legs". Make your raised bed larger than originally planned. The more ground-mass it has, the more stable (temperaturewise) it will be. Do not plant anything closer than 8 inches to the edges of the bed (more on this later), and if you really want to do the best job with it, line the raised sides of the bed with a layer of styrofoam insulation....even half inch is fine. The trick to all this is that it is not necessarily the cold, alone, that will damage plants in a raised bed in winter. In fact, what you want is for the bed to freeze and stay that way. That's why I recommend tha large bed with insulation. It keeps the temperature in the bed relatively stable. If you get brief warm periods followed by cold in the winter, it can cause the earth to freeze and thaw, and this cycle will break the roots of plants and cause them to die. The plants around the perimeter of the bed are most succeptible because the edges will thaw first. Covering the bed with a layer of straw or evergreen boughs is good because it protects the plants from the sun and again keeps the temperatures of the bed stable.

We've built rectangular planters out of landscape ties and insulated them. They are about 30 inches high, and we've been successfully growing grapes, lilacs, wysteria, ets for the last 4 years.

If you have planters that are above the ground and not connected to big pots, I suggest sinking then into the ground for the winter, or grouping them together and banking earth between and around them, followed by a thick layer of bark mulch.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 8:57AM
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cranberry15(Zone 5 WI)

Here's my experience (in Racine County, WI)... My raised beds are 8". Planted strawberries in one, meaning for this to be my permanent strawberry patch. Looking back (must be 3 years now), I think they should have had a drip irrigation hose or soaker hose. They never thrived. But you know what? The runners FLOURISHED in the paths around the raised bed. I leave them mostly alone (the bed is back to being annual veggies) and get a big handful every day through much of June and in to July. I'm guessing it's the moisture difference.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 6:45PM
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mitanoff(Z4b Ontario)

My raised bed is on the ground.
In the past I have had a 2'x4' bed full of garlic. I had read about planting on the edges of the bed and I had worried about my bed being so small. I cannot remember the weather patterns, but I do remember that almost all the garlic did come up.
I bought tulips this year and tried not to get to close to the edges of the raised bed for the same reason Mr.Brown suggested. Even though my garlic did survive in the past.
I have another raised bed, about 4' off the ground so it's pretty high. Nothing survived in it after my winter.
Do you think styrofoam on the underside would help? Heating cables? Just a thought.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 2:05PM
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Great ideas everyone, esp. Don. I will try using the styrofoam on the sides.

I don't think it will work on the bottom - hinder drainage. I made mine with heavy wire mesh on the bottom covered by landscape fabric with soil on top of that. Maybe styrofoam up underneath for the winter.

I do have one bed that I made esp. deep (15") that I think I'll use for the strawberries - should be deep enough to keep the cold/thaw off of the roots.

I'm planning to use compost and vermiculite to fill the bed - any suggested ammendments? Fertilizer from year to year? Any help is welcome!

Again, thanks for the ideas. Never thought of styrofoam.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:37PM
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don_brown(Zone 6A NS)

Simply drill some holes in the stryrofoam and drainage will be no problem. Add some good composted manure to the bedsand alittle coarse sand for drainage.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 8:43AM
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Quinault and Alpine Strawberries do well in northern climates, especially the Quinault. If you want a resource for COLD-hardy plants, google Georgeson Botanical Gardens, and go to their Publications section. They have lots of resources and the results of our Zones 1-2 testing stations.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 6:07PM
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mitanoff(Z4b Ontario)

Hello All:
Just to round off my experience with planting near the edges of my raised beds. As I said previously, I used 2x4's for the walls. I had garlic planted right to the edges and they all seem to be coming up . The winter here dropped to -30C on some days, yes, there was snow mounded over the beds. Where the mulch blew away at the center of the beds, the garlic came up first, but 2wks later the rest of the plants sprouted(at the edges).

My strawberries planted last year are coming up fine as well. At least I hope so. Really hoping I get some fresh fruit as I am eager to see my little girl hunting them!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 9:34AM
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jsoto(5--Southern WV)

We overwinter our strawberries in raised beds in zone 5, and we have no problems at all. This past year was absolutely frigid, and they still came up beautifully.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 7:51PM
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bestwitches(5a Peterborough, Ontario)

I've actually had runners root themselves in nearby flower pots and still come up the next year:)Depending on how large the bed is...planting bush beans in with them helps. Other than that, mine are growing well in pretty lousy sandy soil. Check online or with local greenhouses for the needs of your type.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 11:00PM
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The devil is in the details.....

I mulched my mounded raised bed of Honeye strawberries with compost. Last winter, the wind blew the compost off the strawberries and enough of the top soil at the top of the mound to expose the roots.

That will kill your strawberries, too.
This year, I am planting in landscape fabric at ground level and mulching with straw. Ground level is an option here as our soil drains well.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 11:39PM
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Wow. Been a couple of years and this is still going. I didn't have very good luck with my raised bed strawberries after all. I finally bought the agrotower stacked pot set up and replant every year. Took a while to get the right soil mix but I'm very pleased with the results. Some day I will figure out the picture upload part of this and will post pictures.
Thanks for everyone's imput.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 11:56AM
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