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How to Grow Container Strawberries

Container Gardening: Strawberries

Tight on garden space? Plant strawberries in containers! Grow a crop of tasty strawberries even in limited space. Growing strawberries in containers is easy just about everywhere. Hanging baskets, flower boxes, shallow beds and vertical pots all make growing strawberries in tight spaces easy and rewarding (yum!)

Urban Farming

Container Strawberries

Container Strawberry Varieties:

Choosing a strawberry variety is easy because you can plant most any variety in a container. All strawberries like full sun but most will also tolerate partial shade.

June Bearing strawberries will produce large amounts of berries once a year in the spring. This strawberry variety will grow shoots and reproduce even more strawberry plants.

New transplants should be plucked of all blossoms the first year, and shoots should be removed as soon as possible allowing the plants to heartily establish themselves.

This type needs an overhaul at the end of it’s growing season.

Everbearing strawberries will produce berries at least twice a year. In the spring and in the fall. Remove all blossoms on new plants throughout the spring generally until the end of June even if these plants were planted in the fall. This will encourage strong strawberry plants.

Day Neutral strawberries will produce sweet little strawberries all growing season. To establish heartiness remove the first set of blossoms.

I like growing Day Neutrals & Everbearings because they require less attention and supply fruit throughout the season.

Buy the Right Strawberry Planter or Container:

Strawberry plants are shallow rooted plants that need more surface space than depth to grow.

Choose a container with a surface 13 – 14 inches wide and at least 6″ deep. Plant 4 to 5 plants per container.

Growing Conditions:

Drainage: Choose containers with good drainage. Strawberries love water but detest soppiness.

Soil: Strawberries love nutritious, aerated soil. A hearty mix of 1 part compost, 1 part sand and 2 parts soil please. An unpacked, aerated growing medium works best.

Light: Strawberries love sun. The best harvests come with the most sun but if tons of sunshine is unavailable hang or place the container in the sunniest location possible. Strawberry plants will produce strawberries well enough if they have at least six hours of sun.

Planting: Crowns, the middle of the plant, should be at soil level. Ideally 4 plants per pot. I grew 3 hanging baskets of strawberries with 5 strawberry plants in each. The yield was a steady, sufficient supply for myself. I used them as fruit for my daily yogurt and I don’t skimp on the fruit that I add.

Feeding: When flowering ceases. So for June Bearers this would be more evident than with the all season bearers. For Ever Bearers and Day Neutrals this would be at intervals between their most significant blooming periods.

Mulching: Even container strawberries can use some mulch. Mulching will keep the roots warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It will prevent the soil from drying out quickly. Mulching will also prevent the fruit from resting on the soil.

Avoid using leaf mulch on strawberry plants. Leaf mulch will pack down and prevent top of the soil aeration, cause rot, and prevent new growth.

To maintain top of the soil aeration, use hay, salt hay or straw mulch about an inch from the crowns and spread outward. Move the mulch away from the crowns of the plants in spring and during long periods of wet weather to avoid rot.

I used salt hay on my container strawberries and not only did it do all of the above but once applied it discouraged the local squirrel from destructively burrowing holes to stash his treasures.

Strawberry Maintenance: Depending on the strawberry variety it is wise to pluck the first flowers and / or shoots while the strawberry plant is adjusting to it’s new home. Different varieties require different plucking times and rates.

After season June Bearing strawberry plants require cropping and re-spacing. Everbearing Strawberries and Day Neutrals do not.

Protect your container strawberry plants by bringing them in in the winter and storing them in a cool dry place.

Harvesting: Harvest ripe berries right away. Un-harvested, ripe strawberries are an invitation to disease & pests. Cool quickly and wash just before using.

Winter Care: Mulch with at least 3 to 4 inches of straw or hay or bring them in for the winter and place them in a cool dry place.

I hung four hanging grass baskets with five strawberry plants in each. The grass baskets were easy enough to create small holes in for new strawberry runners to attach. The grass baskets allowed for good drainage, slugs didn’t climb in; but the birds and squirrels expected me to share.

A good carpet of salt hay deterred the squirrels from digging. As for the birds I was on my own but their curiosity was simply just that and they didn’t bother them.

I’m a third floor urban farmer. I hung the hanging planters outside my kitchen. This allowed me the luxury and simplicity of harvesting and eating my own fresh fruit in a peaceful morning atmosphere. A great way to begin my day!

May 30, 2011 Update: My hanging strawberries, the same ones from last year, 2010, are just beginning to emerge to date; well behind their cousins in the community garden. Stay tuned for more on this.

June 19, 2011 Update: The hanging strawberry plants emerged and are doing well. I simply moved them to a sunnier location. It seems that the sleeping phase needed more sun than the already grown transplants that did fine in the same location the year before. Once the plants are fully grown I will return them to their more convenient location.

How to Grow Red Raspberries

"Red Raspberry"

Red Raspberry - Latham

…urban style.

How to Grow Red Raspberries

Everbearing Red Raspberries, grow and produce fruit differently. Everbearing Raspberries grow crops on the tips of the canes during the autumn of their first year. During the second year, these same canes will grow another crop at the lower part of the same cane and during the summer.

Red Raspberries Canes
Summer berries. Bears fruit it’s 2nd year toward the bottom of the cane.
Fall berries. Bears fruit at the top of the cane

Blooms Mid-spring to late summer

When to Plant:
Early spring.

Find your planting zone:
United States


Raspberries love full sun.

Loam, sandy, organic rich.
Avoid soils that have housed eggplant, peppers, potatoes or tomatoes within a few years prior to a raspberry’s occupancy.

It’s nothing personal; they simply fear any leftover root rot causing fungus, ‘Verticillium’, that may be lingering in the soil.

Soil Prep & Maintenance:
Raspberries enjoy a soil with a pH of 5.6 upwards to 6.2. The raspberry farmer can test the fertility and pH levels of the soil with a pH test kit. Scientifically speaking: 2 lbs of each of the following per 1,000 square feet: potassium, nitrogen & phosphorus.
Adjusting pH levels in soils with more acidic character can be accomplished by adding ground limestone. Planting a couple of cover crops per season, tilling them into the soil before they go to seed will insure healthy soil and deter weeds.. Millet, rye, buckwheat or oats make good cover crops. Otherwise compost and manure can be continuously tilled into the soil all season.

Good irrigation equals good fruit size and good yield.
Raspberries don’t like sitting in soppiness for long periods of time.

How to Plant:
Plant as deep as it was in the growing pot and at least twice the size of the root ball. Allow roots to spread comfortably without cramming.

Healthy red raspberry plants require constant air circulation at the base to prevent any rot, fungus or disease. Pruning the raspberry plant back to grow within a 12″ to 18″ width, (smaller urban farmers may want to adjust accordingly), will insure adequate, disease preventing air flow and sunlight.

Japanese Beetle, Raspberry Fruitworm, Red-Necked Borer, Raspberry Cane Borer

Verticillium, Cane Blight, Cane Gall, Orange Rust, Mosaic Virus, Anthracnose, Spur Blight

Raspberries have a special place in my memories and my taste buds. The raspberries I knew throughout my childhood grew along the edge of the road, and well into the forests.

"Red Raspberry"

Red Raspberries

These tasty little fruits established themselves quite regularly on my what-to-do weekend list of adventures. It was always a challenge to pick a berry from the bush and put it into the pail. The detour to my taste buds was most often traveled.

Urban Farming – Sustainable – Grow Red Raspberries

Mulch as a Splash Guard

So, if you read my page about mulch, you should have discovered the basic description and idea behind its use. Here is yet another way to use mulch just like I did this morning.
Yesterday I placed planters on the patio of my apartment building. Some spinach, spearmint, and lemon thyme. Usually I cover the soil with salt hay. It prevents the soil from splashing out and coating the siding and floors with muck. It also deters my visiting squirrel from burying his treasures in my planter. I was very busy and went about my other chores, never considering the rain that was due to fall overnight.
When I woke up this morning to check on my crops there was mud yuck splashed here and there. Unfortunately my salt hay stash was empty. Not wanting to create dismay with my landlord or neighbors I rushed to my stash of dried mulched leaves from the previous autumn’s harvest. I like to cover the worm community with these from time to time. Needless to say I stood in the pouring rain covering the soil with the leaf mulch and all is good. As for my little squirrel buddy, I think he may also enjoy the leaf mulch…..

Urban Farming? Any splash guard recommendations?

Gnats In My Worm Bin

So I’ve been worm composting inside for a while now. I noticed that all the Red wigglers and I were happiest when I added a good balance of wet mushy left overs from the kitchen; topped with dry coffee grinds, toast crumbs, etc. topped with dead plant material mainly crushed, dried & crumbled plants from the previous year’s harvest and some of my unfortunate unattended to dead house plants.
Once I screwed up…things changed. Gnats; tiny little insects that enjoy laying larvae in damp compost loved the worm bin as much as the wigglers and I did.

Things were going well until several schedule changes in my personal life occurred. This created a domino effect on everything else that depended on me and my time. I rushed to feed the worms their sure-to-eat baby like wet and mushy worm food and ran out the door to work. I didn’t place the usual dry plant material on top of the damp food nor did I replace the newspaper on top.

Gnats welcomed this idea. They loved my schedule and moved right into the worm community. Each time I lifted the cover they’d fly out in adult form.

I learned that gnats love dampness and fungus. I realized that I cannot allow wet compost to rule the worm bin without topping it securely with the added dry plant mulch and newspaper.

It’s been pure hell trying to get rid of them but I did.

I got rid of the escapees by way of light. Flying gnats gathered on the window because it was the most lit area of the room at dusk. I’m a “sap” for living creatures. Even the annoying ones. I felt guilty but I also felt invaded & urgent. I decided to clean my window with window cleaner and wipe them and the window down with paper towel. I did this twice in one week while maintaining the dry plant material and newspaper to securely top off the worm community and have now rid them from my kitchen where my worm bin has been quiet and nonchalant since it arrived about a year ago.

So gnat’s in my worm bin have been one drawback so far to my worm composting experience. My solution wasn’t planned but it did work. However I’ll be hanging a sticky fly paper or two in the area just in case.

For even more worm composting tips and ideas to rid gnats from your worm bin check out this website. Red Worm Composting – Fungus Gnats in Worm Compost Bins It’s full of worm farming ideas, information & problem prevention techniques that may work for you.

I conclude that whatever type of compost method I choose there will always be some type of drawback. I certainly have experienced mine. Maybe scheduling a spin of the back porch tumbler that I chose not to use would have been easier. Still, I enjoy my wigglers and they do unite me every day with nature as I’m hustling out the door to catch that smoggy, crammed city bus. They provide a consistent amount of worm castings year round as well. Thank-you Red wigglers!

Do You Use Worms to Compost?