By Anne Baley
With its cheerful little white flowers and its distinctive sweet taste, the strawberry is a perennial favorite in many home gardens. Strawberries are versatile plants that will often multiply whether you want them to or not, and can easily be grown using a variety of methods. Whether you have a traditional garden bed or a small container garden, you can make strawberries a successful part of your gardening plan.
The traditional way to grow strawberries is in matted rows. Plant rows of strawberry plants, leaving room between the rows for plants to spread. Pick off any flowers that the plants may produce the first year, so that all of the plant’s strength goes toward getting stronger for future crops. Tendrils and stems will sprout from the original plant and they will bury their own tips in the ground to create even more plants. This creates a mass of strawberry plants in your bed, resulting in a high yield of berries the second and subsequent years.
For container gardeners, the strawberry jar is a classic setup. This tall urn-shaped planter has multiple pockets in sides in which you can plant your strawberry plants. As the plants grow, the stems cascade down the sides of the jar and the bright red berries make an attractive accent to patios and balconies. Alternate with two or three kinds of strawberry to get the longest berry harvest. Cover the jars at the end of the season, but be prepared to replace at least some of your plants the next year.
Take a tip from all of the gardeners following the upside down tomato craze and grow your strawberries the same way. Use a woven plastic bag like those sold as grocery store bag substitutes. Fill the bag with soil and make X-shaped slits in rows around the perimeter of the bag. Plant a row of strawberries, add more dirt, then cut more X’s and plant more berries. The woven plastic bag will drain off excess water, but will allow you to water the entire bulk of the soil to get to all of the plants. Hang your shopping bag planter on a porch roof or from a plant hanger and turn it daily so that different plants will catch the sun.