How To Make The Best Compost For Growing Strawberries

How To Make The Best Compost For Growing Strawberries

The Best Compost for Strawberries

The best compost for strawberries is one that is rich in organic matter, provides good drainage, and has a slightly acidic pH. A compost made from a combination of well-rotted manure, leaf mold, and garden waste is ideal.

(Featured Image: Strawberry Picking by D. Krebs)

The Best Ingredients for Strawberry Compost

To create a good compost for strawberries, start with the right materials. The best ingredients for making compost for strawberries are:

  • Green materials: include things like fresh grass clippings and kitchen scraps
  • Brown materials: include dry leaves, pine needles, and branches
  • Aged cow manure or poultry manure
  • Bone meal or blood meal

Avoid Adding These Materials To Your Compost

  • Meat and dairy products: These can attract pests and create unpleasant odors in your compost pile.
  • Oily foods: Oily foods like salad dressing, cooking oil, and butter can slow down the decomposition process and create an unfavorable environment for beneficial microorganisms.
  • Pet waste: Pet waste can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can survive in your compost pile and contaminate your finished compost.
  • Diseased plants: Plants that have been infected with diseases or pests can pass those problems on to your compost pile and spread them to other plants in your garden.
  • Weed seeds: Seeds from weeds and invasive plants can survive the composting process and sprout in your garden, causing problems later on.
  • Charcoal or coal ash: Charcoal and coal ash can contain harmful chemicals that can be harmful to your plants.
  • Synthetic chemicals: Chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can kill beneficial microorganisms in your compost pile and contaminate your finished compost.

By avoiding these items and sticking to a mix of brown and green organic materials, you can create a healthy, nutrient-rich garden compost that will benefit your strawberries and vegetable garden.

How To Make Compost For Strawberry Plants

1. Collect Organic Materials

Collect a mix of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) organic materials. Raw kitchen scraps are a good option for green material, while dead leaves are a great option for brown material. Be careful not to add too many pine needles, as these can introduce too much nitrogen into your compost mix.

2. Choose A Compost Bin

You’ll want to choose a compost bin that allows you to turn the compost. We prefer dual chamber tumblers for all of our composting. We love these bins because it takes up little space and makes turning our compost very easy!

3. Add Water

Moisten your compost pile as you build it, aiming for a damp but not waterlogged consistency. Water your pile regularly to keep it moist, especially during hot or dry weather.

4. Turn Your Compost

Turn your compost pile regularly, using a pitchfork or compost aerator to mix the materials and aerate the pile. Turning your compost will help to speed up the decomposition process and create a more uniform finished product.

5. Wait For Compost To Mature

Depending on the conditions in your compost pile, your compost may take several months to a year to mature. Once it has turned into a dark, crumbly material that smells earthy, it is ready to use.

Many people who use a lot of compost choose to have 2-3 separate bins at various levels of composting. Using a dual chamber compost bin can also enable you to have two piles of compost at the same time. This allows you to continuously add scraps to your newest compost pile, while still allowing you to use the compost in your most established pile.

A vegetable garden framed by a wooden frame with a black composting bin in the middle.

Is Compost Necessary For Growing Strawberries?

While it is not strictly necessary to use compost when planting strawberries, it can be highly beneficial for the health and productivity of your plants. Compost is rich in organic matter, which can help to improve soil structure and fertility, retain moisture, and promote beneficial soil organisms.

Incorporating compost into the soil before planting strawberries can help to create a healthy and nutrient-rich growing environment. Additionally, applying compost around the base of established strawberry plants as a top dressing can help to provide ongoing nourishment throughout the growing season.

If you don’t have access to compost or prefer not to use it, you can still plant strawberries successfully by ensuring that your soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter. Adding other organic materials like aged manure, leaf mold, or peat moss to the soil can also help to improve soil quality and provide some of the benefits of compost.

How To Apply Compost To Strawberry Plants

To apply compost to strawberry plants, follow these steps:

  1. Wait until the soil has warmed up: Wait until the soil temperature has reached at least 50°F (10°C) before applying compost to your strawberry plants. Applying compost to cold soil can slow down the decomposition process and prevent your plants from absorbing nutrients.
  2. Prepare the soil: Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil surface around the base of your strawberry plants. Be careful not to damage the strawberry roots.
  3. Apply the compost: Sprinkle a layer of compost around the base of your strawberry plants, taking care not to bury the crown of the plant. Aim for a layer that is 1-2 inches thick.
  4. Water the plants: Water your strawberry plants well after applying the compost. This will help to settle the compost and provide your plants with the moisture they need to absorb nutrients.
  5. Repeat as needed: Depending on the quality of your soil and the needs of your plants, you may need to apply compost several times throughout the growing season. For best results, apply compost once in early spring, again in early summer, and once more in late fall.

By applying compost to your strawberry plants, you can improve soil quality, increase yields, and promote healthier, more productive plants.

What Varieties Of Strawberry Plants Are Best For Home Gardeners?

The best variety of strawberry to grow will depend on your climate, soil type, and personal preferences. Here are a few popular varieties to consider:

  • Chandler: This is a popular variety that is known for its large, sweet fruit and high yield. It is a June-bearing variety, which means it produces one large crop in late spring or early summer.
  • Seascape: This is one of the best day-neutral varieties, which means it will produce fruit throughout the growing season, rather than producing one large crop. It is known for its large, firm fruit and resistance to disease.
  • Albion: This is another day-neutral variety that produces large, sweet fruit throughout the growing season. It is known for its high yield and disease resistance.
  • Ozark Beauty: This is one of the most popular June-bearing varieties that produces sweet, juicy fruit in mid-season. It is known for its disease resistance and easy maintenance.
  • Alpine Strawberry: This is a native variety of strawberry to North America. It is a slow-growing strawberry but is hardy to many conditions. Alpine strawberries are one of the main types of strawberries that grow naturally in the northern hemisphere!

These are just a few of the many strawberry varieties available. When choosing a variety to grow, consider factors like climate, soil type, fruit size and flavor, and disease resistance, and choose a variety that is well-suited to your needs.

Tips For Growing The Best Strawberries:

  • Choose the right variety: There are many different varieties of strawberries, each with its own flavor, size, and texture. Choose a variety that is well-suited to your climate and soil type, and that produces fruit that is the size and flavor you prefer.
  • Plant in the right location: Strawberries need plenty of sunlight to produce fruit, so choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Make sure the soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter.
  • Plant at the right time: Plant strawberries in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. This will give the plants plenty of time to establish before the hot summer months.
  • Plant properly: Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots of your strawberry plant, and set the plant in the hole so that the crown (the point where the roots meet the stem) is level with the soil surface. Water the plant well after planting.
  • Water and fertilize regularly: Keep the soil around your strawberry plants consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Apply a balanced fertilizer to the base of the plant following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Mulch your plants: Mulch your strawberry plants with straw or another organic material to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Control pests and diseases: Monitor your plants regularly for pests and diseases, like powdery mildew. Bird netting can be a helpful tool in protecting your plants from birds and other small mammals. Make sure you are using organic and natural methods of pest control so you are not adding chemicals to your fruit.
  • Harvest at the right time: Wait until the berries are fully ripe before picking them. This will ensure that they are at their peak flavor and sweetness.

By following these tips, you can grow the best strawberries possible and enjoy a delicious harvest of fresh, juicy fruit.

Several bright red strawberries hang from a plant ready to be picked!

Strawberry Plant by Julie Magro

What Are The Best Containers For Growing Strawberries?

When it comes to choosing containers for growing strawberries, there are several options to consider. Here are a few of the best containers for growing strawberries:

  • Hanging basket: Hanging baskets are a great option for growing strawberries, as they allow you to make use of vertical space and can be hung from a balcony, porch, or other structure. Look for baskets that are at least 12 inches in diameter and 8-10 inches deep.
  • Window box: Window boxes are another good option for growing strawberries, especially if you have limited outdoor space. Look for boxes that are at least 6-8 inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the size of the plant you are growing.
  • Strawberry towers: these unique planters can hold many strawberry plants with a small footprint. Mother plants can be planted in each slot, allowing runners to cascade down over the edge of the planter. We recommend tower strawberry planters if you are growing with limited space!
  • Grow bags: Grow bags are lightweight and portable, making them a good option for growing strawberries on a balcony, patio, or other small space. Look for bags that are at least 12 inches in diameter and 8-10 inches deep.

No matter what type of container you choose, be sure to select one that is made of a durable material, such as plastic or ceramic, and that has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

Interested In Learning More About Growing Your Own Fruit?

Strawberries are one of the fastest growing and most rewarding fruits to grow, but there are many other fruits that can make a fantastic addition to your strawberry patch! If you’re interested in learning how to grow more fruit, check out some of our other growing guides: