The best soil for strawberries is high in organic matter and drains well. Sandy loam soils are ideal for strawberries. Clay soils are also great for strawberries if they are improved first with aged cow manure and compost. Mix through some pelleted chicken manure to feed new plants for rapid growth.
Plant new strawberry plants in spring or fall in improved soil. This article will explore the best soil types for strawberries, how to prepare beds for new plants and the best soil improvers.
Check out the best soil types for strawberries below.
Sandy loam soil and improved clay soil
Sandy loam soil is best for strawberries as it drains well but also holds enough moisture to support good plant growth. Mixing through some additional organic matter to lift the soil level and prevent the roots and crown rotting.
Clay based soils are also fantastic for growing strawberries if extra organic matter is added to help with drainage. Clay contains lots of nutrients and holds water for good strawberry growth. Read through the next list of tips for improving clay or sandy soil for good strawberry growth.
Create well-draining soil to prevent rot
Make sure that any soil including potting mix drains well. Strawberries love regular water but too much can cause the crown to rot, the leaves to droop and turn yellow. All soil will benefit from added organic matter, even potting mix.
Before planting strawberry plants into potting mix, add some extra compost and aged cow manure. This will help to feed the plant.
Soil high in organic matter
Soil that is high in organic matter is essential for good strawberry plant growth. I always like to mix through compost and aged cow manure before planting new strawberry seedlings or runners. You can also mix through other aged manures including chicken manure.
Never add fresh manure to the ground soil or garden beds as it can burn strawberry plant roots.
Pile up soil to lift crowns up from the ground
After improving the soil to add extra organic matter, take the time to make a mound to plant new strawberry runners. This will lift the crown up above the soil level, allowing water to drain away quickly and prevent it from rotting.
How to improve soil before planting strawberries
Here are the top ingredients to add to your soil before planting strawberries. This will increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, allowing it to drain well. It will also add nutrients and feed soil bacteria which will break down the matter and make the nutrients available to the plants.
Compost is the best ingredient to add to ground soil, raised garden beds and potting soil before planting strawberries. Use home made compost if you have it or buy it in bags from hardware stores or garden centers.
Mix up to 1/3 of the soil with compost to increase drainage. This is very important if you are growing strawberries in clay soils.
2. Aged cow manure
Aged cow manure is another great organic ingredient to mix through soil before planting strawberries. Make sure you use aged manure so that it broken down and will not burn new plant roots. Aged cow manure can be bought in bags from garden centers.
You can also break down cow manure in your compost heap at home. Wait until it has broken down for at least 6 months so that it resembles soil. Mix it through with brown materials including fall leaves and straw.
3. Pelleted chicken manure
When mixing through aged cow manure and compost, throw in a handful of pelleted chicken manure. This will boost the range of nutrients in the soil and new plants to establish. This is great in fall where plants will quickly add new leaves and can grow runners. These can grow into new plants before spring to increase your crop.
4. Worm castings
Worm castings are a great additive to soil before you plant strawberries. If you have a worm farm at home, take a small trowel and scrape off a small amount of castings. A little goes a long way when it comes to worm castings. A small trowel full is enough for each new plant.
For more on how to remove worm castings from a worm farm without hurting worms, check out my previous article here: How to Harvest Worm Castings | 10 Easy Steps
How to prepare soil for new strawberries
To prepare soil for new strawberries, mix through compost, aged cow manure and a handful of pelleted chicken manure. Add some small worm castings if you have them and mix them through with a garden fork. Add up to 1/3 organic matter to the ground or potting soil.
Make a small mount to plant your strawberry plants into. This will help with drainage.
Wait for 2-4 weeks if you have time to let the soil settle. This will allow time for the ingredients to incorporate, for soil bacteria to start to break down the organic matter and allow it to start to break down.
Best Soil for Strawberries | Summary
The best soil for strawberries is a sandy loam improved with organic matter. The perfect ingredients to improve soil for strawberry plants are aged cow manure and compost. If you have worm castings on hand, mix through a small amount. Mix through pelleted chicken manure if you are planting in fall.
Clay soil is also great for growing strawberries as long as you take the time to add some organic matter. This will help with drainage. Take care when watering strawberries in clay soil as it will not dry out as quickly those with a higher sand content.
For more on watering strawberry plants, check out my previous article here: How to Water Strawberry Plants | 3 Easy Methods to Avoid Fungal Growth
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.