Planting A Strawberry Patch

Is there anything better than a juicy, home grown, sun-warmed strawberry?

Kevy doesn't think so. He takes his strawberries very seriously and I think that after a couple of years of heavy strawberry planting we're ready to share how to make a strawberry patch that will keep you snacking on fresh berries ALL summer, and deep into the fall.

Ripe strawberries in a patch.

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Sweet Strawberries

Strawberries are herbaceous perennials, which means the plant dies back to the root each fall/winter and their life cycle lasts for several years. These fruit bearing plants are often cold hardy and adapable for your climate - even for us up here in chilly zone 3.

These ruby red berries are non-climacteric, which is fancy way of saying they will not ripen after picking, so make sure that when you're harvesting berries, you choose them at the perfect ripeness. I know what you're thinking, and yes, strawberries DO soften after picking, but that is not them ripening, which is defined as enzymes breaking down the starches and turning them into sugar, softening is actually the fruit rotting!

Ripe strawberries in a wicker basket.

Planning Your Patch

I will not lie, I learned a life-long lesson the year we got our OG chicken flock and that lesson was to embrace the planning stage. Since then, Kevy and I have really done our best to comprehensively plan any projects, including our food forests, pig pen, chicken brooder, chicken tractor, subsequent chicken acquisitions, and honey bees.

If I can impress anything on you as a gardener, homesteader, or strawberry lover, it's to take a bit to plan our your strawberry patch. There are many things that go into it, some that you may not have considered, and I'm here to help!

While it may seem to be a simple process; grab a couple of strawberry plants, fire them into the garden and reap the rewards forever, it's not!

Here are things you need to consider:

Strawberry plant.

Types Of Strawberry Plants

Before choosing your ideal plants, you'll want to make sure they are hardy to your climate. The varieties I've listed below are cold hardy to my zone 3 homestead, and they've been happily growing and thriving here for at least 2 full seasons.

There are 3 main types of strawberry plants, and we have plants from each type. This helps to ensure berries throughout the season. Don't be afraid to mix and match varieties from different types.

June Bearing

June bearing plants typically offer one large harvest over a 2-3 week span in late spring to early summer, hence June. Within this type there exists subtypes: early, mid, and late season, these denote when to expect the flush of berries within the harvest window. Though this can heavily depend on the weather and climate in your area.

The largest and juiciest of strawberries typically come from June bearing plants.

June bearing plants also tend to send out more runners than other varieties, making them great for harvesting daughter plants to replace mature crowns that have slowed in production or developing a new bed. This can also cause issues, as the runners can grow into nearby lawns, or create dense mats of plant material. They may require some clean out or runner trimming once in a while.

Choose June bearing if you're looking for a concentrated harvest as they are fantastic for preserving, either via jams, dehydrating, or freezing, due to the volume. The large berries also make excellent fresh eating and sales opportunities at farm stands and farmers markets.

Our favorite June bearing varieties:

  • Kent: produce bright red berries with intense flavor, and very cold hardy (zone 2a). We planted 150 Kent strawberries in the summer of 2022 and though they had a slow start, the plants are looking incredible this spring! Kents do have more prominent seeds than some of our other varieties, which I find can affect the fresh eating qualities.
Woman holding a basket filled with various berries.


These strawberry plants offer 2-3 harvests spread through the growing season, though the harvest is admittedly smaller than those of the June bearing varieties. With everbearing plants, you can expect an early summer, late summer, and fall flush of berries.

The berries on everbearing plants are smaller, as are the total harvests as compared to the June bearing plants, but when you have many plants, this makes the harvest more manageable. And don't let the smaller berry size fool you, they are irresistibly delicious - full of flavor and perfectly juicy.

Everbearing strawberry plants send out few runners, which makes them incredibly easy to maintain. I almost always just peg the runners from my everbearing plants in the same bed they came from, to keep the crowns fresh and young. This also helps to offset any winter losses.

Everbearing plants are great for anyone who likes a spread out harvest. Having the fruit ripen in multiple flushes makes it much easier to preserve with when you have a large volume of plants to harvest from. These berries also make great fresh eating and consistent harvests for sales if you're so inclined!

Our favorite everbearing varieties:

  • Fort Laramie: hands down, my favorite strawberry of all the varieties we've got. The large berries, great flavor, perfect texture, and consistent harvests have made it a winner here. We started with a few random plants we got at a greenhouse 3 years ago and spent the following years searching for more. We were very lucky to find more this year!
  • Charlotte: may actually be the sweetest strawberry we have on the property, flavor wise Charlottes best the Fort Laramie. Intensely bright red and sweet as candy. We planted 150 Charlottes in the summer of 2023 around the edge of the "far" food forest and believe it or not, got a harvest from them in their first season!
Strawberry patch.

Day Neutral

Day neutral berries are a newer introduction, and man, we are so lucky to have them! Like other day neutral plants, they are not sensitive to daylight hours. When it comes to strawberries, daylight hours help to trigger flower initiation and development, day neutral strawberries don't require a certain number of daylight hours to induce flowering, meaning they will flower and fruit as long as the growing season is warm enough.

Overall, day neutral berries are smaller, but they produce consistently through the season and more fruit than other varieties.

We love day neutral berries here in northern Alberta, because they are the reason we had berries from mid May to mid October last season! That is an incredible stat, but a real one - my kids were taking home grown strawberries in their school lunches at the end of the year and again at the beginning of the next year.

If you're looking to have delicious strawberries over the entire season, choosing day neutral berry plants is the way to go. Depending on your needs, these may be the only type of strawberries you need to plant in your patch.

Our favorite day neutral strawberries:

  • Seascape: these are a close second to Fort Laramie strawberries. They have a wonderful size and shape. Intensely sweet and delicious berry. But the absolute best part is the consistent harvesting, and if I'm perfectly honest, the ability to snag a handful from the patch to munch on while I'm doing my nightly yard walk <3
Seascape strawberry plant in mulch.

Bare Root vs Potted vs Seedlings

Bare Root

Strawberry plants are available in bare root form, which is a miracle of nature, if you ask me! You get what looks like a dried up root ball attached to a crown and with a little love, moisture, and good soil, you end up with a live plant!

Bare root plants are cost effective, and more mature than seedling started plants. The often produce fruit in their first season.

The best thing about bare root strawberries is the sheer number of varieties available. Because most strawberry varieties are a hybrid, they cannot be started from seed and must come from the originating stock. This makes it incredibly difficult to source high quality strawberry seeds!

On the flip side, bare root plants are time sensitive and must be planted soon after purchase. They require a bit of TLC before planting and for a short period afterwards. We soak our bare root strawberries for 20-60 minutes in cool water before planting to help them wake up and absorb a bit of water before the planting stage. We follow that up with a few really deep waterings over the next couple of weeks until they are established.

Purchasing dormant strawberry plants from reputable sources can help your success rate immensely. I have purchased bare root plants from hardware stores, box stores, greenhouses, and major forestry/ landscaping suppliers. Our best results (and prices) have always been bulk orders from

Planting bare root strawberries.

Potted Strawberry Plants

Potted strawberry plants offer a convenient and less stressful transplantation process as they are already growing in soil, but convenience comes at a higher cost compared to bare root plants.

The variety of potted plants may be limited to what local nurseries carry, which can restrict your options.

Setting aside the drawbacks, planting a live strawberry plant in the ground who's growth you can see from the get go has advantages, especially if you're a newer gardener or you're looking to hit the easy button in a smaller planting.

Seed-Started Strawberry Plants

Strawberry seeds are relatively inexpensive, making this an economical choice for adventurous gardeners. But the available seeds for strawberries is slim, as the plants that produce the large strawberries that we want are actually hybrids and genetically are unlikely to breed true.

I have had very little luck with growing strawberries from seed, the process is long (ahem, cold stratification), long germination times, weak seedlings, and I have better things to fritter with. Ha!

Seed-started plants are best suited for experienced gardeners who have the patience and dedication to nurture the plants from seeds to maturity.

Woman using her shirt as a basket for strawberry harvest.


Chose the location of your strawberry patch carefully, because although the berry plants can be moved, it's best to consider it a permanent planting and avoid doing the work more than once!

In order to produce large, juicy, and flavorful berries, your plants need plenty of space, sunlight, healthy soil, enough water, and quality companion plants.

If you're like me and live in the northern hemisphere, choosing a south or west facing bed, is the best bet. I have most of my strawberries planted in full sun locations but those that aren't are used as ground cover in the food forests and are thoughtfully planted to get sufficient sunlight as the taller plants are behind them.

Plan for a bed large enough for your plants to spread out. All strawberries send out runners, so allowing space for them to naturally expand is a great idea, and minimizes work when it comes to future pruning or runner harvesting.

Think about what is planted around where you intend to set up your strawberry bed or what you want to plant near there in the future! I try to choose strawberry beds and future companion plants based on which plants work best together. Some of my favorite companions for strawberries include asparagus, rhubarb, and ornamental onions.

Raised Beds

Many gardeners love planting strawberries in raised beds, but I have a totally different experience! One year we planted 100 strawberry plants along a freshly prepared retaining wall. That winter, we hit temperatures as low as - 45c, and ALL my plants winter killed.

I would hesitate to recommend planting perennial plants like strawberries in any raised garden if you're in a cold growing zone like us, because the entire bed can freeze without the insulation from the surrounding ground.

Strawberry plants under an apple tree.

Site Preparation

Because strawberries are perennial performers, we want to ensure that the site is properly prepped before we plant because in theory, this is the last time we will be underneath the roots of these plants. And although the prep work can seem tedious, it's for sure worth the effort.

Here are some of the steps you can take to ensure a successful planting:

Prepare The Patch

This step is important whether you're reclaiming an established location in your yard or developing a new plot for your new strawberry patch.

Removing any existing sod and weeds is an essential step, as these unwanted plants will compete with your strawberries for moisture and nutrients that are crucial for their growth and fruit production. Starting with a clean slate gives your strawberry plants the best chance to establish themselves.

Throughout the growing season, it's important to keep the strawberry bed clean and well-maintained to ensure high yields. Regularly removing any emerging weeds will prevent them from stealing nutrients and water from your plants. Additionally, checking for and addressing any signs of pests or diseases early on can prevent potential issues from spreading and affecting your crop.

Improve Soil Structure

Strawberries prefer locations with good soil drainage, so if you're choosing to plant in an area with poor soil structure, it should be improved before planting. Poor soils can pretty much universally be improved with organic matter additions; namely high quality compost and rotted manure.

Mixing in organic matter to heavy or clay based soils can improve soil structure, drainage, and pore space. While sandy soils that don't hold enough moisture can also be amended with organic matter additions to improve their water holding capacity and structure.

It sounds really complicated, but it's not. Soil with small particles packs tightly together, reducing pore space and does not drain water well, and if it's not draining water, there is no room in the soil pore space for air, and all plant roots need air.

Soil with large sandy particles has large pore spaces that cannot hold water, or drain too rapidly and those empty pore spaces are filled with air, effectively drying out the plant.

Adding organic matter is the fix to both problems - so if you aren't composting yet, you should be!

Test PH

Strawberries prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil, with an ideal pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to test your soil pH and make necessary adjustments:

Testing Soil pH

  1. Collect soil samples from a few spots in your intended strawberry patch to ensure an accurate reading. Mix the samples together to create a composite sample.
  2. Follow the directions included with your soil pH tester - depending on the type, it may be required mix the soil with distilled water or another solution.
  3. Use the pH tester to measure the sample, then compare the results with the desired pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

Adjusting Soil pH

If your soil is outside of the desired range, it can be amended, but don't fret too much about getting exactly within the range, your soil has a memory and it's a lot harder to change the pH of the soil in an in ground patch than say a raised bed or plant pot.

  • Lowering Soil pH (if too alkaline):
  • Raising Soil pH (if too acidic):
    • Lime is a great addition to acidic soil to raise the pH.
    • Wood ash can also be used, but should be used in moderation.
Large ripe berry.


When To Plant

For most gardeners, the best time to plant new strawberry plants is early spring, and we have had the best luck planting in mid May, when most of the risk of frost has passed and the soil is workable. If you're in a much warmer climate zone with mild winters, the best time for you may be to plant in the fall or early winter.

Planting Method

There are two common methods for planting strawberries - we use the matted row system for our plantings.

The hill System

In this method, plants are organized into raised beds or hills about 8-10 inches high and 2-3 feet wide to improve drainage. Plants are spaced 12 inches apart in rows, and rows are 24-36 inches apart. To maintain, runners are cut regularly.

The hill method is best for day neutral and everbearing varieties as it encourages larger fruit production.

Ripe strawberries on a plant.

The matted row system

This method is a bit more chaotic, and that's totally ok!

When using the matted row system, strawberry plants are planted 18 inches apart in rows about 24 inches apart, and runners are pegged in to establish new plants and create a delicious, dense mat. To maintain the mat, runners must be pruned every once in a while o prevent overcrowding.

The photos below show the same strawberry bed, just one year apart!

Root Spreading

Strawberries are shallow rooted perennials, so it's important to gently spread the roots for your strawberry plant into a fan shape, this helps to ensure that the roots are strong, and encourages robust growth by increasing the area in which the roots can absorb water and nutrients.

Planting Depth

Strawberry crowns, like asparagus crowns, are very picky about how deep they are planted.

It is very important to plant the strawberries, potted or bare root, so that the crown (the central growing point) is level with the soil surface. If the crown is too deep or buried, the root can rot, and if the crown is too shallow, the roots may dry out and the plant may die.


Adding a layer of mulch can be highly beneficial both to the plants and to your workload.

Mulch helps retain vitally important soil moisture, which is essential for strawberries, especially during dry periods. It also acts as a barrier against weeds, preventing them from taking root and competing with your strawberries. Organic mulches, such as straw or wood chips, are particularly effective and can also contribute to improving soil quality as they decompose. We use local wood mulch from an arborist company in our town for all of our mulch.

As an added bonus, the mulch also helps to insulate the soil in the winter months from the extreme cold, reducing our workload when it comes to winter prep.

Matted row strawberry bed in a food forest.


Caring for your strawberry patch requires attention throughout the growing season to ensure healthy plants and a bountiful harvest.


Watering is crucial, as strawberries have shallow root systems and require a lot of moisture to produce big juicy berries! Strawberries produce the best yields when they receive about an inch of water per week.

If you live in a drier climate, a soaker hose or drip irrigation can help to water the plants without wetting the leaves. If you don't have targeted irrigation, try to water the plants earlier in the day, to allow them to dry during the day to prevent fungal issues.

Applying mulch can help retain soil moisture and reduce the need for watering in dry spells.


Weeding is another essential task; manually remove weeds regularly to prevent them from competing with your strawberries for nutrients and water.

Applying mulch around the plants can help suppress weed growth and retain soil moisture.


Fertilizing your strawberry plants can promote healthy growth and fruit production.

We do not use fertilizer here on the homestead, instead we attempt to build a healthy soil biome by using compost, natural soil amendments, native soil, and natural mulches which can help to unlock the nutrients within the soil.

Pest + Disease Management

Monitoring for pests and diseases is vital.

Regularly inspect your plants for signs of issues like spots, wilting, or unusual growths. Implement natural pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial insects or using organic sprays, and ensure good air circulation by spacing plants appropriately and removing debris to prevent fungal infections.

Strawberry plant.



Harvest strawberries when they are fully red and ripe with no signs of white or green.

Strawberries are non-climacteric, meaning they won't continue to ripen after being picked. So, when harvesting, be sure to select them at their optimal ripeness. While strawberries do soften after picking, this isn't due to ripening—which involves enzymes breaking down starches into sugars. Instead, the softening is actually a sign that the fruit is starting to rot.


I like to walk through the yard, usually in the morning when temperatures are cooler, and check my various strawberry patches daily, and harvest whatever is ready. Strawberries ripen incredibly quickly in hot weather!


Gently twist the berry off the stem, or use small garden snips to snip the stem which helps to avoid damaging the plant. If I know I'm walking out the door to collect berries, I bring my snips as I find the berries last a bit longer that way, but if I get caught on a yard walk without them and berries need to be harvested, I'll use the twist method.


Once the berries have been harvested, they do have a short shelf life, unfortunately.

Your best bet for lasting berries is to harvest in small batches and cool as soon as possible to remove field heat and slow degradation. Avoid washing your berries until right before using or eating, and they'll last even longer.

I like to collect my berries in a colander before spreading into an even layer on a large sheet pan and chilling in the garage fridge until completely cooled (usually a couple of hours) before I bring them into the house fridge.

Full basket of strawberries in a strawberry patch.


Although eating fresh strawberries is an unbeatable experience, having fresh strawberries to preserve is the second best part of having a productive strawberry patch.

We take our time to preserve strawberries every growing season because we know that once they stop producing for the season, it's going to be a long 6 months before we get another tasty berry from our patch!

My kids absolutely love dehydrated strawberry chips in their lunch kits - my daughter eats them like candy! We also wash and freeze strawberries by the ton in the summer months - they are perfect for baking into pies, whipping up in smoothies, and topping pancakes through the cold winter months.

And who can forget fresh strawberry jam? You literally cannot beat strawberry jam from home grown strawberries!


If you're googling "how to start a strawberry patch" trust me, you'll want to take the time to plan it properly. This includes choosing plants appropriate for your zone, as well as plants that meet your needs; whether that be one large flush, a couple smaller harvests, or continuous fresh berries through the growing season. Don't forget to plan HOW you'll plant them. Sometimes a matted row works best, and other times a hill planting works better.

Before planting, choose what plants you'd like to work with, bare root are easiest and most economical but rarely really hit their stride till the second season, while potted plants may have strong yields in the first season but are much more costly, seed started strawberries are a nightmare I want no part of, so you choose that one at your own risk.

Ensure that the desired location meets the needs of your berries both in terms of soil quality and access to sunlight and moisture. If not, take the time to amend it, as it's much easier to amen the soil when there aren't plants in it.

Once the plants are in, mulching the patch helps to keep maintenance and watering down by protecting soil moisture and suppressing weeds.

Here's to your bountiful strawberry patch!

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