How to Plant Strawberries With Black Plastic
Strawberries thrive when grown in well-drained, sandy loam soil and full sunlight in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10. The short-day category of strawberries, including “Chandler,” “Tioga” and “Seascape,” bear fruit year long, while the day-neutral category, which includes “Aptos” and “Fern,” create fruit three months following planting. Mulch helps strawberry plants by inhibiting weed growth, maintaining soil moisture and increasing soil health through insulating material. Unlike organic mulches, which encourage the proliferation of snails, sowbugs and earwigs — all of pests that feed strawberries — black plastic sheeting provides all of the benefits of mulch in addition to superior weed management, better insulation and improved longevity.
Lay 4 to 6 inches of compost and one pounds of 5-10-10 fertilizer for each 100 square feet above the bed two weeks before planting. Mix the fluid and compost to a depth of 6 to 8 inches using a mechanized tiller or garden fork
Form raised beds measuring 10 inches tall and 2 feet wide in the garden, spaced 28 inches apart, with a scoop shovel. Although the lengths of the rows vary based on the number of fruit crops, each plant needs 8 to 14 inches of space between the next. Water the soil for 30 minutes and allow the soil to dry slightly, which takes approximately one week.
Position a piece of black plastic sheeting 5 inches longer and wider than each bed above each bed and temporarily anchor it at each end with wood stakes or rocks. Bury the edges of the plastic sheets 4 inches deep across the beds with a garden trowel. Tamp the soil down to the plastic edges of the ground to fasten it.
Cut two angled slashes using a utility knife at the sheeting to form an X. Each slash that forms the X should be 5 inches long. Space each X at the sheeting eight to 14 inches apart.
Dig a hole at the soil wide enough to accommodate each strawberry seedling’s root ball and deep enough so the crown of each plant is even with ground level. Dig the holes through each X at the plastic sheeting working with a garden trowel.