Bob and I decided to put strawberries on this slope in-between the garden beds and the raspberry beds. The problem? If we planted strawberries ALL over, how would we get to the ones in the middle? The top ones would be challenging too, since you'd have to lean over the edge of the slope to get them.
Solution: Put stairs from the raspberry beds up to the garden boxes, preferably having the stairs end at the top between two garden beds! Not only will this give us another way from the garden bed tier down, but it would make it very easy to pick strawberries. AND, we can more easily have strawberries growing through a medium like landscape fabric since the area is more contained. I'm not a huge fan of the fabric, but on a hillside with strawberries? I can be convinced. We'll plant the plants through decent holes in the fabric, tacking the fabric down at the edges of the staircases, and mounding up the area in-between (under the fabric). We'll then mulch over the fabric so you see the mulch and the strawberries, but not the fabric.
Our theory is that if the strawberries aren't putting energy into runners and aren't competing with weeds and have great dirt, then they'll put out some nice, juicy strawberries and become very large, nice plants. We've looked at successful growing operations and this seems to be a method that nicely produces good yields.
So today, I built the first staircase. It's all level (which was important), though it does have a teeny curve in the very bottom. I'm not worried by this. It looks great and I'm happy. It's a big messy right now, but I keep chugging towards what I know it will look like in the end!
Staircase #1 from a distance:
View of the top. I had to dig out the stairs a bit on the top three stairs, but in return, I got a staircase that has nice, deep treads and very reasonable rises. YES. I'll likely dig out the area a bit more (so dirt doesn't fall on the stairs easily), but the fabric will help with the dirt containing a bit.
View from the top-down. The stairs end with plenty of walking space at the raspberry beds.
Gaps between beds where the next two staircases will go:
Better view of where the next staircase will go (on the left) and the new staircase (on the right):
Best part? The staircase cost under $15 to make. Woo! AND, it's starting to rain, so here's hoping the rain will wash clean my new stairs!