Strawberry beds in old cattle water troughs

Asked May 15, 2020, 10:49 AM EDT

Three years ago I planted new strawberry plants in 2 old corrugated troughs. Even though the plants thrived over the summer they died over winter. Last year i read that a 4 inch layer of pine needles was a good winter mulch so I did that, but again most of the plants died. My question, are the troughs not a good raised bed idea? Or are pine needles not a good mulch, even toxic to strawberries? I don't know what I am doing wrong, can you help me. ( I need a high raised bed as I can't get down on the ground anymore. I thought the troughs would be a great solution) Thank you, Barb Mensink, Rushford MN

Fillmore County Minnesota

1 Response

Sorry you keep losing your strawberry plants. There could be several reasons why they are not wintering over.

1) The type of strawberries. The U of M article list strawberries appropriate for Minnesota, so make sure you have one of the hardy varieties.

2) Soil. Strawberries like a sandy loam soil. Be sure you mix in compost each spring or at least top dress with compost to keep the soil healthy in nutrients.

3) Winter Mulch. Raised beds tend to get colder in the winter so the strawberries need a thick mulch, like 6-8 inches. Straw seems to be the preferred mulch. You might want to put a loose netting over the bed to help hold the straw in place.

4) Watering – Make sure the plants do not go dormant in dry soil.

Here is the U of M Extension take on strawberries: https://extension.umn.edu/fruit/growing-strawberries-home-garden

Also an article from Iowa: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/yard-and-garden-prepare-strawberry-plants-winter