A bed of strawberries has been harvested and the bushes have been cut back to ground level. I'm thinking about breaking up approx. the top 10-15 cm of soil (with a spade), because it's very dry and packed right now. In the process I would undoubtedly cut and destroy many strawberry roots.

So here is my question: Is it correct to assume that the roots (and hence the bushes) will be able to recover until later this season or until next season. (There are still several months left in our growing season.)


3 Answers 3


Ditch the spade for garden work and get a spading fork.

Dampen the soil and use the spading fork to break up the soil between the plants. Spread a layer of quality compost, keep the area just damp enough and let the worms get to work.

It's what works in my bed which has a little too high clay content. I've been threatening to tear it up and deep spade in organic material for the last three years because they were doing poorly.

With what was described over two years, this year I had to fend off eating two gallons of strawberries in the last three weeks. Oh the horror!

Also, thin out the older plants and let the runners root. Strawberries getting too dense can be detrimental to crop production.

  • Thx. Do you think it's okay if I go 10-15 cm deep with a spading fork?
    – Drux
    Jun 16, 2015 at 15:35
  • 10cm (3.9") is probably about as deep as I'd go. Jun 16, 2015 at 15:39

I don't know that I'd tear it up, because you'll probably loose the plants. If you wanted to try and keep the plants healthy and loosen the soil, you could try a couple of things. I'd dig a few holes about 6" deep around the bed and bury kitchen scraps, like fruit peels and empty corn cobs. Then I'd put a layer of compost on top. Not enough to bury the plants, but a good amount. Then I'd water it once or twice a week.

A few things will happen here. One is that the worms will come to eat the food and will "till" up your garden bed. Another is that the compost will help put nutrients back into the ground, as well as helping to hold water in, like mulch.

Another option, is apparently something that works instead of tilling. It's a bunch of organisms I believe. I saw it on the youtube channel "Growing your greens". You could search 'no till' or something like that on his channel to get the actual brand, but it was an additive that added helpful bacteria to the soil that processed it and in some manner was supposed to help till the soil with out actually disturbing it with a manual tiller. He said it was beneficial, because a tiller disturbs the balance in the ground and making the beneficial bacteria reset everything. He gave examples of how a small operation farmer has been using it for a long time with excellent results.

  • Thx. I like your first method and may try that.
    – Drux
    Jun 16, 2015 at 13:43

Fiasco labs answer is great! To improve any soil, at any time there is ONLY ONE WAY...so simple! Throw DECOMPOSED organic matter on top of the soil! The micro and macro organisms come up to eat (they HAVE to have decomposed organic matter to eat and thrive)otherwise the decomposers wakeup, other soil organisms go to sleep or dormant and the decomposers decompose non-decomposed matter so there IS something for the soil organisms necessary for healthy plant life to wake up and eat!

These organisms burrow their way to the top (aeration), eat this decomposed organic matter then burrow back down into the soil profile...pooping this stuff out and doing all the mixing and aeration for you!!! At the same time this 'mulch' is keeping weeds from germinating, allowing moisture to stay in the soil longer.

The BEST mulch you either make yourself by composting which doesn't lend enough material for your landscape but is super for your vegey garden or...find a supplier of decomposed human poo and sawdust through your sewer/water company. This stuff is natural colored a dark taupe, is fine and consistent in texture, has ZERO weed seeds and ZERO pesticide residues...it does have heavy metals from medications we humans take so I wouldn't recommend using it on your vegey garden. And yes every other year one replaces this stuff on their planting beds. I won't use any other mulch...period. We should INSIST our sewage is turned into this stuff. Otherwise, WHERE are they dumping this great resource? I know in Washington they are taking Seattle's 'gold' and pumping it beneath agricultural land in the center of the state. Plants are not able to access this stuff but our ground water definitely gets contaminated...check your facility out..

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