Soil Requirements: A loamy blend of pH neutral(8) soil
Ideal Temperature: 68-82 f
Light Requirements: High (Full Sun)
Watering Needs: Daily
Time to Mature: 9 months to a year
Harvest: Annually (varying amounts based on size of plants/patch)
To start out with complete honesty I need to inform you that as of right now I am planting all my new Strawberry plants in an outdoor raised bed garden at my house. I am doing this more because I like the idea of having a strawberry patch on the side of my house than anything grow related. So now to really begin growing strawberries in pots – a simple grow guide. This is both the title and what I intend to explain herein.
There are three main ways in which you can begin growing strawberries in pots. The first and obviously simplest is to buy a seedling or seedlings and transplanting them into a more permanent Container. This method while simplest it is the most expensive and in my opinion the least satisfying.
The second method for starting a strawberry plant is by getting a live bare root crowns. These root balls are easily plantable and give your plant a couple month head start vs growing from seed. Starting with a local bare root plant is also a surefire way to ensure you are getting a varietal that is acclimated to your climate zone and taste preference.
The final way and in my opinion the only way is to start from a seed. The newly germinated seeds only take a week or so to sprout. From there they can be transferred to smaller temporary pots to mature a bit more before being transferred to a permanent planter. I personally transplant my Strawberry saplings three times. First I germinate the seeds using “The Wet Paper Towel Method” just to ensure that the seeds are viable before the first planting. Then transfer them in groups of 3-6 into small 6oz plastic cups with potting soil. Once you can see roots along the side of the cup I transplant the sapling into a small self-watering container. Then finally I transfer them into larger self watering containers to mature for the year and allow maximum yeild.
One of the reasons why Strawberries are the first fruit/berries gardeners will grow is that they are extremely easy to care for. As long as you have the correct soil, light, and watering regiment there’s little that can go wrong with strawbs.
Be sure to use a light loamy soil that will absorb water while also allowing the extra water to runoff. If you plan on mixing your own soil; my hat goes off to you. You should use a mixture of around 49% sand, 29% Silt and 22% Clay for optimal water retention and root conditions.
Strawberries thrive in full sunlight. The sunnier the location the more strawberries stretch and grow. If you want your strawberries to grow in a tighter more compact fashion you can clip the runner shoots that grow as soon as you identify them. This will cause your plant to send more of it’s energy where you want it to go; creating delicious red berries. If you let them run (and they will) you will end up with a wide spread array of smaller plants developing separately from your mother plant. I am currently letting the runners in my proposed strawberry patch run as I am trying to create a large bed of plants. However, I am also clipping the runners from all of my plants in pots and containers so that the plant focuses it’s energy on root development and maturing it’s own self vs. expansion.
The last and by far most commonly messed up element of care for your little baby strawbs is going to be the watering regiment. Strawberries, like any other berry, enjoy a large amount of water. The tricky part is that they also like brief periods of dry soil in between watering. This brief period helps to prevent root rot. If you let your plant go too long without water it will begin to wilt and it’s overall growth will be stunted. The flip side to that coin is that, If you water your plant to often the roots will begin to rot and the plants growth will again be stunted. I generally just stick me index finger into the soil around the plant to check moisture levels. The soil should be moist but not wet and you should have regular planned fluctuations of moisture. This fluctuation mimics the natural rainfall patterns that occurs and encourages maximum growth.
Harvesting and Uses
The best berry is one you have grown and harvested yourself. Ripe strawberries are extremely easy to identify. Look for the classic dark crimson red that is the telltale sign of a ripe strawberry. I personally can not wait for a large number of them to ripen all at once for larger more periodic harvests. I like to peek in on my plants two to three times a week plucking the ripe berries as they individually ripen. I have found that this does create a longer harvesting period as some of the earliest berry shoots have time to put out another berry. On the other hand if you can resist the daily picking of ripe berries you can get larger batches which will allow you more versatility in your uses. Depending on your time schedule both methods have their advantages.
When harvesting the berries themselves you will want to use one hand to hold and stabilize the stem of the plant. We stabilize the plant so that when you pull off the berry you only get the berry and nothing else. If you just pull the berries there is a high probability you will damage another part of the plant. You will then use your other hand to twist the berry while pulling to get a clean separation between your desired berry and the rest of the plant.
When constantly taking smaller harvests your recipe list is a bit more limited. However, if you treat them like a semi-daily snack you can really enjoy each berry as it ripens. One of the simplest recipes that I regularly enjoy is simple washed and chilled strawberries with a touch of whipped cream. My personal method is to cut the very tip of the berry off so it can stand on it’s own. Then, cut out the top green leafy area so that there is a small bowlish hole. I then refrigerate the berries from harvest time (midday) till just after dinner (2-4 hours). Finally, I simply fill each strawberry with a bit of whipped cream and place then standing up on a plate. This may sound to simple but trust me it’s delicious.
When harvesting more infrequently your harvests will be larger and you may need to preserve some of your harvest for later use. My Number one favorite thing to do with my excess berries it’s to make fresh strawberry jam. Strawberry jam is a quick and easy recipe that can be used in a ton of different secondary recipes or just eaten by itself on a slice of buttered toast. When dealing with large quantity harvests this is my go to storing method which doubles as great homemade gifts for family and friends.
Please leave me a comment below with your own experiences or questions.