By Lori Lapierre
Strawberries are an easy fruit to grow, whether in a garden or in containers. Because they require a large patch of ground for traditional gardening, many people look to containers as a space-saving way to grow the fruit, which spreads rapidly. Although they need full sun and good drainage, strawberry plants can thrive in a variety of containers. And when care is taken to plant starts correctly, the planter can be maintained with little work and provide a bounty of fruit during the growing season.
Drill several holes in the planter’s bottom for proper drainage if holes do not already exist, or if there are no spaces between the barrel slats through which water can properly drain.
Choose a spot for the wooden barrel planter that receives full sun, usually on the south side of your house or yard. Place the planter in the desired spot so that you do not have to move it after the strawberries are planted, as it may be heavy.
Place small stones in the bottom two inches of the planter to assist with proper drainage.
Fill the planter with good quality dirt or potting soil, leaving 3 to 4 inches of space at the top of the planter.
Mix the fertilizer into the dirt, following the manufacturer’s recommended directions on how to prepare it (if water mixing is required), and how much to use based on the amount of area you are covering with fertilizer.
Plant strawberry crowns into the fertilized dirt, keeping leaves level with the soil. It is recommended to use two to three plants per half-barrel, but you may plant a few more if plants seem small.
Apply water to barrel with hose or sprinkling can, making sure soil is saturated. Water again when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, but not dusty.
Choose an everbearing variety of strawberry, or a “day neutral;” these do better in containers than the June-bearing varieties.
It is best to start with strawberry “crowns” and plants that are certified to be disease-free.
Strawberries only bear well for three to four years. Container plants may need to be replaced every two to three years.