So I will be planting some strawberry plants this evening.  I have been reading a few books on berry growing to get ready. However, they don’t agree with each other on planting method.

There are two main methods of planting strawberries. The hill method calls for laying out the strawberries at about one per square foot, and cutting off all runners. The matted row method calls for planting 18 to 24 inches apart, in rows 36 inches apart, and allowing them to set runners at will. You then annually ‘renovate’ the strawberry bed by narrowing the rows to 6-12 inches (often with a tiller) and thinning the plants to one plant per 4 or 5 inches, choosing the strongest daughter plants and removing the mother plants after 3 or 4 years.

‘Fruits and Berries for the Home Garden’ by Lewis Hill states that the hill method of planting strawberries is superior because the plants don’t waste energy on setting out runners, and they could produce up to 6 years and beyond.

‘The Berry Growers Companion’ by Barbara L. Bowling states that the matted row method is preferable. You allow the plants to renew themselves every year, and keep them within space restraints by renovating annually. (Mr. Hill ignored renovation in his book.)She also states that by using this method one can harvest from the same bed for 5-8 years.

I’m not sure which method I want to use. To be frank, I would like to experiment with both. It seems that so long as care is given to the strawberries, either through annual renovation, or removing all runners, the plants can have a reasonably long and productive life. But I don’t have enough room, this year at least, to experiment with both. Next year I will be lengthening my strawberry bed.

I’m inclined to use the matted row method, particularly because Mr. Hill ignored entirely renovating the strawberry bed in his discussion of the matted row system, saying instead that one must alternate planting year to year, and till them under and replant on alternate years. However, I am also drawn to the hill method, as it looks like it will work well in raised boxes with heavy mulch.

What do you think I should do?