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Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

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Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  kristinz on 4/16/2016, 4:08 pm

This year I want to get some strawberries in, so I am considering what type of bed is best.  I see many people just use a flat 4x4 bed as opposed to the tiered or pyramid beds.  Is one better than the other?  I'm looking to put in on the outside corner of my patio, so it would be an odd shape, like a corner.  Was thinking of doing 2x2 or 3x3 boxes, a total of 3 boxes.  I want it to 'wrap around' the corner of my patio, if that makes sense.  Should I raise the bed in the middle (Corner)?  And if the middle bed is higher, what should I fill in with, I would hate to waste a bunch of MM.  I've looked through the archives and noticed someone used sand.  

Thanks for any advice or pics.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  gwennifer on 4/16/2016, 6:15 pm

I think a tiered system works fine if you're only using it one side (stair steps up against a wall or something like). The drawback of a tiered system that is planted on all sides is that the tiers themselves end up shading other parts of itself. Does that make sense? A flat bed has equal access to the sun. I have a strawberry pot for instance, and I rotate it every now and then, otherwise the plants on the back don't grow as well as the ones in the front.

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Tiered Strawberry bed in the making

Post  kristinz on 4/20/2016, 6:58 pm

Here is the start of my tiered bed....It will be three tall in the middle square, two tall in the other 2 squares and one around.  It's going to go right on the corner of my patio where the grass is already dug up.  The squares are all 2' x 2' and will plant strawberries in the 3 squares only - that's 48 plants.  Around the perimeter area I'm going to plant flowers this year, but will let the runners overflow into that area next year.  Pic was taken this evening, the area gets sun almost the whole day.  DH has been working on this every night after work for me...Hopefully we will get to plant this weekend - I already have my plants - wanted to get them before they sold out!  First time with strawberries - fingers crossed!  


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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 4/20/2016, 9:28 pm

I am putting in a strawberry triangle to fill in a hard to mow/angle near my back garden gate. It will be flat, and I debated about this. No square footage is gained by going up. And in my spot, it doesn't make it any easier to access.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  ralitaco on 4/21/2016, 1:20 am

@kristinz wrote:

Wow that will be really nice.
You could either fill it in with sand as you said earlier, or you can put a bottom on the raised boxes like you would a table top bed. Also, if you DH hasn't already thought of this, I would put legs on the raised sections to keep the boxes from sliding around.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  sanderson on 4/21/2016, 3:53 am

My husband toe nails in screws to keep layers together. At least he did when the boxes were on the ground. Maybe he doesn't do it now that they are table tops bolted to the legs, but he definitely did it when they were on the ground.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  kristinz on 4/21/2016, 7:50 am

DH and I talked about putting bottoms on the tiered levels as suggested by ralitaco...how well do they hold up to rot? I really like this idea and think it would be easier if we had to move or replace any components.  We might put some cheap gravel / rock in the bottom of the 3 squares just to give the bed some stability.  We used untreated cedar decking on this bed specifically because we wanted it to be more of a permanent bed and thought this would last longer.  It was a jaw-dropping shocker when we paid....but hopefully will be able to get some good years out of it.  

@sanderson - we were going to use metal plates to keep the levels together - we had to use some corner braces on a couple of spots as he couldn't screw it all together.  Just realized they are zinc, is this an issue for the bed - will it leach anything unhealthy into the soil?   Maybe the wooden legs are a better idea as suggested by ralitaco?

@Scorpio Rising - We considered a flat bed, but don't have much more 'sunny' space to put beds.  We currently have 2 4'x8' beds and I think we can possibly put in 2 more 4'x4' beds.  That being said, I have other plans for those. The only other sunny spot we had I planted 10 blueberry bushes in the ground last year...our regular soil is the perfect PH for them, just need to keep the deer away.  They ate a lot of the branches over the winter - never thought they'd come into our fenced yard, but there is no other explanation.   We went with a tiered bed so it would be visually more appealing and so no one walks on it since it's right off the patio.  DH will make some sort of cage / hoop system to cover the bed when they start to berry as we have too many squirrels that like to take a bite, then leave the fruit on the ground  , plus all the birds in the area.  Good luck with your bed - post pics!  I love seeing everyone's progress!

All suggestions are welcome and I'm loving the help from this community!  This is our first venture outside of standard beds...

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/11/2016, 6:48 pm

Thanks for starting this thread Kristinz! It's my first time with strawberries, too, and I hadn't quite planned the size/shape of the bed yet, and reading this thread helped.

Scorpio- thanks for this: "No square footage is gained by going up."  I'm glad I opted for flat, because my plan ended up too complicated even after I tossed the idea of risers.

Here's my finished bed:


It's a diamond, to echo the edge of the landscape bed. I wanted it to look nice since it's in the front yard. I used trigonometry to design it, but my lack of woodworking experience means it's not put together very well - turns out steep angles result in narrow wood that splits when you try to put screws through it, and can't really be clamped for gluing either... leastwise not with the random clamps I own. 

I'll be putting in Earliglow and Mara Des Bois, and some extra garlic chives. (I'm sure I had a planned location for those, but I can't figure out what it was...)
Any thoughts on interplanting with claytonia? I'd like to have some go to seed, for saving. 
Also - what should I use my terracotta strawberry jar for? I decided strawberries probably wouldn't successfully overwinter in it in my climate (and I don't know that anything else would either) - so - annual herbs or vegetables that take well to the strawberry jar lifestyle?

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/11/2016, 7:03 pm

FUN! So many ideas and great plans!

I have zero action on my plan....other things more pressing...graduation party? Yep.

Beetles, how about herbs in the terra cotta hens and chicks containers? Thyme, cilantro, basil, dill....whatever's you like? Or, succulents.




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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  kristinz on 5/11/2016, 8:18 pm

Hey Beetles...your bed looks great!  I tend to get carried away - hence my design, but am lucky the DH goes along with everything.  Posted are updated pics - I need to make up some more mix for the bottom tier - after doing some research, I found that bush beans are good companions for strawberries so I'm going to give them a try around the outside perimeter.  As you can see by my pic, I pot herbs in my terracotta strawberry pots - I attended a May market a couple of years ago and learned a great way to use them.  Let me know if you want the directions - makes a big difference in watering...

 

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/11/2016, 8:27 pm

Very nice! And a great visual end to the patio! Not for animals, however who gave no problem stomping/nibbling on our plants! People are much more manageable!

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  Kelejan on 5/11/2016, 8:38 pm

That looks so nice, kristinz. Looking forward to seeing it in full growth.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  ralitaco on 5/11/2016, 11:36 pm

KristinZ,
That looks great! What did your DH decide to do under the raised beds? did you put fill or make bottoms? Just curious

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/12/2016, 1:11 pm

Very nice, KristenZ! And easy to harvest...!

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  Mikesgardn on 5/12/2016, 7:54 pm

The tiered bed does look nice, but my strawberry patch is a single level 4x4 bed.  This will be its 4th year of harvest from the original plants.  I highly recommend strawberries as long as you can keep out the animals. I harvest about 1 pound per square foot each year, so 16 pounds from a 4x4 box.  Not bad for a fairly easy to maintain plant.

 

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/12/2016, 10:05 pm

Mike, my 2 year plan is a 4x4 each of strawberries and asparagus. They look great! What varieties did you plant?

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/12/2016, 10:38 pm

@kristinz wrote:Hey Beetles...your bed looks great!  I tend to get carried away - hence my design, but am lucky the DH goes along with everything.  Posted are updated pics - I need to make up some more mix for the bottom tier - after doing some research, I found that bush beans are good companions for strawberries so I'm going to give them a try around the outside perimeter.  As you can see by my pic, I pot herbs in my terracotta strawberry pots - I attended a May market a couple of years ago and learned a great way to use them.  Let me know if you want the directions - makes a big difference in watering...
Thanks, kristinz! I like yours, too! Thanks for posting the updated pic, I hadn't quite imagined it right from the unfinished version. Also - yours have leaves! Mine came as root squids with barely a leaf a piece. But those single leaves are looking pretty perky after a good watering and a cloudy day, and I trust the place I bought them from, so I hope they look like yours soon.

For strawberry jars, I think I've seen something about a pierced PVC pipe down the center for watering, is that what you're referring to? I was thinking of subbing a cardboard tube (folded closed), and filling it with vermiculite. Or I might just get PVC after all since I seem to have a growing shopping list for the home improvement store anyhow.

Scorpio - Thyme sounds fun! I already have squares designated for basil and cilantro. I have a oversized, lopsided rectangle (from my original pre-grid section of garden) of plain thyme, but my preferred greenhouse has had 'fun' thymes like lemon, lime, and golden in previous years. I didn't look this year, I was too busy snagging the pepper varieties on my list. I also have some extra dill seedlings I could throw in the top. Semi-random question: I've heard hens & chicks called house leeks; Do you know, are they edible?

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  kristinz on 5/13/2016, 8:24 am

Thank you everyone!  It was truly a labor of love!

Ralitaco - We filled the bottom with the cheapest gravel / rock we could find, then he put in wooden bottoms with weed blocker on top to stop the mix from coming out.  It makes for a nice, sturdy frame.  

Scorpio - I can't remember what variety we planted, but I didn't cut off the blooms like I should have and we have strawberries - I will at least cut off the runners this year.. Also DH is going to try to design a cage for it since something is already digging in it (probably those pesky squirrels) and we found an almost ripe berry a few feet away (most likely a squirrel again...we have lots).  You'd think they'd stay away as much as our little dogs love to chase them.  I'd love to do asparagus...hope to see some posts from you about how that goes!  

Beetles - these were the cheapest plants I could find out our local nurseries - saw some for $1.99 a plant  Sad, then at another nursery was able to buy flats for $18 or so, and since they came in packs of 4, 8 packs to a flat I think, it was a much better deal!  As far as the strawberry pot, here are the directions I used:

Cover the drain hole with drywall tape (in and x over the hole), coffee filter, newspaper or nylon screening (I used drywall tape).
Take a 1 1/2' - 2' piece of PVC cut to length - a bit taller than the pot, and pre-drill with 6-8 small holes down the length of the pipe.
Using moisture resistant tape, tape off bottom of PVC pipe.
Insert pipe in strawberry pot, and start to fill pot, planting as you go up each layer.
I filled the PVC about once a day with water, twice when it was really hot.  This was a very efficient and effective way to water all the plants. Bonus- reusing every thing from year to year!  I empty the pot at the end of the growing season - compost the plants and put the mix back in a bucket for next year.  This can also be used for salad greens - per the paperwork I was given - I haven't tried that though.

Will post more pics of the strawberry bed once we make more progress!

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  Mikesgardn on 5/13/2016, 6:06 pm

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Mike, my 2 year plan is a 4x4 each of strawberries and asparagus.  They look great!  What varieties did you plant?  
I planted two varieties, Early Glow and All Star.  They ripen at different times which is nice.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/13/2016, 7:02 pm

@Mikesgardn wrote:
@Scorpio Rising wrote:Mike, my 2 year plan is a 4x4 each of strawberries and asparagus.  They look great!  What varieties did you plant?  
I planted two varieties, Early Glow and All Star.  They ripen at different times which is nice.

Thanks! I have heard of both around here.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  sanderson on 5/13/2016, 8:36 pm

kristenz and mike, both of your strawberry beds are beautiful.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  FeedMeSeeMore on 5/14/2016, 1:25 pm

Here is a tip: We had a fantastic strawberry crop this year. It took 2 years for the plants to really start producing. We did it in raised beds.
However, DH did not lay some hay down to mulch them.  That allowed some of the strawberries to touch the damp dirt and wherever that happened the strawberries got moldy or mushy, so a lot were lost like that. Just a heads up in case you do a flat raised bed.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  kristinz on 5/14/2016, 4:24 pm

@FeedMeSeeMore wrote:Here is a tip: We had a fantastic strawberry crop this year. It took 2 years for the plants to really start producing. We did it in raised beds.
However, DH did not lay some hay down to mulch them.  That allowed some of the strawberries to touch the damp dirt and wherever that happened the strawberries got moldy or mushy, so a lot were lost like that. Just a heads up in case you do a flat raised bed.
Thanks for the tip!  Will do that soon!  I didn't realize that could happen...

Here is an updated pic - beautiful berries I'm trying to save from the critters - had to get the netting on ASAP - so until we come up with a better plan, this is it...


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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 7/24/2016, 11:56 am

@kristinz wrote:As far as the strawberry pot, here are the directions I used:

Cover the drain hole with drywall tape (in and x over the hole), coffee filter, newspaper or nylon screening (I used drywall tape).
Take a 1 1/2' - 2' piece of PVC cut to length - a bit taller than the pot, and pre-drill with 6-8 small holes down the length of the pipe.
Using moisture resistant tape, tape off bottom of PVC pipe.
Insert pipe in strawberry pot, and start to fill pot, planting as you go up each layer.
I filled the PVC about once a day with water, twice when it was really hot.  This was a very efficient and effective way to water all the plants. Bonus- reusing every thing from year to year!  I empty the pot at the end of the growing season - compost the plants and put the mix back in a bucket for next year.  This can also be used for salad greens - per the paperwork I was given - I haven't tried that though.

Will post more pics of the strawberry bed once we make more progress!
Thanks, kristinz! I finally got to this, just before vacation, so that my garden-sitter could water one strawberry jar instead of a dozen little pots of herbs.


There was some paper stuffed in the (small) drain hole in the bottom of the jar already, so I left that. I found a scrap piece of the right size PVC pipe on the curb during spring Riff Raff week, cut it down to a nice length, drilled holes, capped it with a "test cap" that was cheap at the home improvement store, and filled the jar with moistened potting mix as I transplanted. (I'm out of MM, and closest store that sells vermiculite has been out for weeks... and customer service regarding this has been poor.)

Per Scorpio Rising's suggestion I planted thymes. For the 10 holes I got 4 different kinds of thyme (I tore each root bound potting in half), and my two pots of marjoram plantlings. For the top I got some sad-looking herbs for half-price -- just pot-bound, and ready to re-bound: Thai basil, columnar basil and "celery leaf". And I threw in my extra dill seedlings. Photo is about 1 week after planting; everything took well -- except the dills because they are trying to bolt.

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Re: Strawberries: Tiered / shelf bed or flat?

Post  sanderson on 7/25/2016, 2:23 pm

Sweet!

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