By Megan Shoop
Topsy-turvy gardening offers gardeners with little ground space a way to grow vining fruits and veggies without the need for trellises and areas for large pots. The most popular fruit for topsy-turvy growing is the tomato, but you can also plant strawberries in these planters.
The idea behind an upside-down planter is to eliminate the need for a trellis. Vining plants like strawberries often require trellising or staking to prevent their runners from tangling and shading fruit. Shaded fruit may not ripen properly or may begin to rot on the vine if too much moisture accumulates. The topsy-turvy planters prevent this by providing a planter that allows the strawberries to grow straight down.
In a topsy-turvy planter, you gently feed the roots of a strawberry seedling up into the planter through the bottom hole. While holding the root ball in place, you fill the planter with soil. You can then hang the planter in the sun. You can water the planter from above while the strawberry plant grows out of the bottom of the planter. The plant will bend upward toward the sun until the weight of its fruit pulls it down into a straight line.
Though topsy-turvy planters are available commercially, you can make one from a household plastic planter pot. Simply drill a 2- or 3-inch hole through the bottom of the planter and plant your strawberries as you would in a commercial planter. Drill holes through the edge of the planter and hang it with small S-hooks and link chain from your local hardware store. Prevent dirt from coming out of the bottom of your planter by tacking a square of canvas over the hole inside the pot with a strong adhesive. Cut an X in the fabric to make room for the strawberries’ root balls.
Two problems that may arise with an upside-down planter are overheated roots and soil that dries too fast. Prevent the former by planting your strawberries in a light-colored container. The color will reflect sunlight and keep the roots relatively cool. To keep your planter soil moist, build your planter out of a container with a lid. Drill a few holes in the lid for air flow and snap it into place after watering. You may also plant some herbs or colorful flowers in the top of the planter. As long as your planter is 3 gallons or larger, the upper plants should not compete with your strawberries.