See how to plant herbs in the easiest-ever container garden! The Editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac gives advice on gardening and shares some herbal folklore.
See more about container gardening.
I've planted an herb garden very much like this; only I used a cracked kiddie pool instead. It was fabulous last year! There was no need to dig or till. I wrapped some black garden fabric around the soil bags (I used silver duck tape to secure it to the bags) to discourage the squirrels and weeds. Those pesky dandelion seeds can lodge anywhere they try. Where there was room from time to time; I planted extra lettuces in between the emptied spaces.
Growing strawberries answers to your questions specifically.
Most strawberries prefer a lighter soil environment with compost on top of the soil. The lighter soil allows the baby runners from the mother plant to easily root near the mother without much work by the mother plant. If the baby lands on a rock, you will note that over the course of a day, the mother plant will twist the stem to redirect the baby to another more likely spot. The mother plant knows when the baby has rooted due to two factor: the baby doesn't need as much nutrition from the mother and there is some nutrition linked back to the mother through the runner.
Many people advise putting pine needles on the strawberry plants to help them winter over. There is no way that the plants don't get some of that high acid nutrition during the winter but they dont need it during the summer months so sweep the pine needles off in the spring.
On big strawberry farms you wont see anything but black plastic mulch to keep the weeds down and to heat the soil early in the spring. I would assume that those big farms know what they are doing since having a large harvest is the financial mainstay of their business. Many of those big farms replace their strawbawberry plants with new ones due to the characteristics of those plants being prolific in their first year while tapering off in the second and third yeares. This is true for homegrown as well. You can solve that problem yearly by transplanting strawberry babys to a newly developed patch. The most beds you will need is three and you can transplant the babies into a rotating system as they grow during the year. This will guarentee your success every year with one bed producing like new, the second bed being two year old and the third bed with the three year old plants. The third year bed is the one that you will transplant to every season.
Some gardeners give their strawberries ammoninium sulfate or ammonium nitrate to fertilize and to lower the ph of the soil. his can also be done with urea or gypsum. If you soil is on the sweet side you will have to pull out all the stops by adding pine needles and ammonium's to get the soil ready for your plants. You might even have to wait a year to make sure the soil is ready. Your soil should test between 5.0 and 7.0 on the ph scale.
Personnally I have used wood chips in the form of bark mulch as a mulch for the s. beds. It has worked splendidly but I am adding pine needles this winter just for good measure.
You don't necessarily need fertilizer, but mulch is always good. Look at our strawberry page for tips on planting and caring for strawberries: