This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
It is customary for writers on small fruits to say that any good garden soil will grow strawberries. True to some extent; but if we want quantity it is useless to try sandy land. A cold, heavy clay bed is also to be avoided as the other undesirable extreme. On sandy land the berries will be early and usually sweet, but there will never be any heavy crops. On heavy land the crops will usually be late, the fruit will be large, and if the soil is moist or undrained, the berries will be watery and acid. A good soil is a deep, rich loam well drained, and even a sandy loam with considerable vegetable matter is very desirable, since it is warm and early. Let your plants stand not less than eighteen inches apart, and even two feet will be still better. We have tried the plan of three and a quarter by one foot, but became fully satisfied that it was too close, and the more room we gave our plant the increase in vigor and fruit would more than recompense for the difference in distance.
Use old well decomposed barn-yard manure every fall, and cover the bed over completely. Wood ashes, too, are excellent; they contain potash, which is one of the most invigorating of all species of nutriment for the strawberry vines. Fertilizers are occasionally worthy of trial as stimulants. Bone meal is always good. Superphosphates and bone flour are also efficient; scatter them broadcast over the field at the rate of ten pounds to the square rod. Just before winter cover the beds with a mulch of hay, cornstalk or straw; the last is the best, cleanest, and most free from weeds. If the mulching should happen to be omitted during the winter, put it in the rows between the plants early in the spring, just as the plants are blossoming. We have found the mulch to help forward the ripening very materially, and at the same time by supplying moisture it increases the size and color of the fruit.
Remove all dead leaves from the plants when they are to be planted out; and after every season of fruiting it is well to do the same thing. Many skillful growers cut all the leaves off, both living and dead after fruiting season, and permit new leaves to form. The plants often produce crops the next year far superior to the usual average. In planting use a small trowel or dibble, and give abundance of room to spread the roots out. These simple directions will enable any amateur to grow strawberries to perfection and keep his bed in good order the year through.