Following the visit to P. Allen Smith's farm earlier this year, Chris Sabbarese from Corona Tools issued a challenge to the attendees. We were sent three 'Tribute' strawberry plants from Stark Bro's and were to come up with a creative way to grow them in a small space. Called "Strawberry Fields for Everyone," it was a contest and there would be a prize awarded to the gardener who tallied the most points, based on production, creativity, and whomever garnered the most comments and questions on our blog in regard to our method of growing.
When I received my berry plants, I immediately planted them up in a plain old clay pot until I could get the container I wanted, which would grow the strawberries in very little space. Before I could get the plants transferred to it though, one plant died. That one never really took off and grew like the other two, and I messaged Chris to say that I was already out of the contest. He said, "Not so fast...share your idea anyway."
But winning the contest isn't really the point, is it? Showing various ways in which gardeners can grow things that they don't think they have enough room for is a way of sharing and encouraging others - something that gardeners are known for and that bloggers have an opportunity to do every time they publish a post. And just think of how much tastier and healthier it would be if we could all grow even a little bit of our own food!
So here is my idea, in which I used an item some of you might already have, embellished with things I already had, and which takes up only a small amount of air space:
To do this yourself, you'll need:
- a tiered fruit basket (don't forget to check the thrift stores!)
- a package of dried sheet moss to line the baskets (coir will work, too)
- ribbon or cord in the color of your choice
- decorative beads
I got my tiered baskets at Sur La Table for $10, on sale. The silver mesh ones would work well too and are equally inexpensive. Sheet moss can be found at stores such as Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and Walmart and a package sells for around three dollars. The decorative beads were some that I had laying around, but they can be purchased inexpensively in the craft section of stores such as the ones I mentioned.
After weaving the cord through the chains, I left a foot of it hanging below, to which I attached glass beads. The beads look especially pretty when the sun shines on them.
Since we were only given three plants, I put those in the bottom basket and filled the other two baskets with other plants and a glass ball. I chose an angel-wing begonia because it flowers non-stop in a bright red, later adding Snow Princess® Lobularia by Proven Winners, another great performer. (In these photos, the Lobularia is new and hasn't yet matured into the drift of tiny white flowers for which it's known.) I used a general potting soil for planting.
In the top basket, I placed a glass ball that I had floating in one of our little ponds in the garden. It coordinates nicely with both the glass beads on the cord, as well as providing a beautiful look when the sun shines through it. By using this as well as the red cord, the red-flowering begonias, and the red beads, they compliment the deep green foliage of the strawberry plants and provide color even when they aren't fruiting or blooming.
'Tribute' is a day-neutral berry, meaning it will produce fruit for most of the summer, unlike the June-bearing ones that many of us are familiar with. Hung in a sunny window or outside, the three baskets would hold enough strawberry plants to provide enough berries for numerous servings throughout the season.
If you like my idea and would like to help me win the prize (which just happens to be an iPad2!), please leave a comment here and let me know what you think. Have you done something similar? Do you have an idea for growing edibles in small spaces that you'd like to share? I know I said earlier that it wasn't really about the contest, but who wouldn't want to win an iPad??
|Look who likes hanging out in the strawberries! Yay for natural pest control!|
The first ripe strawberry was picked today, August 10th. Yum! Very juicy and very sweet!
There are several more in various stages of growth. I might end up with
enough to put atop some shortcake!
The three strawberry plants were provided to all entrants by Stark Bro's, and Corona Tools sent a trowel to help with the planting.