Friday, August 5, 2011

You Don't Need An Acre to Grow Strawberries!


Here at Our Little Acre, we've grown strawberries in a patch in the garden for many years. It's one of my favorite fruits and I love to be able to just go to the garden in June and eat my way through the patch. But what if we didn't have an acre on which to grow them? Just how much space does one really need to grow strawberries, or any number of other edibles, for that matter?

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.

My first idea was to use ribbon to weave into the chains the baskets hang from, but then I remembered all the unused macrame cord that has been in a box in the basement for oh, let's see...30 years? (Don't say a word - I know you have skeletons in your closets, too.) The great thing about using the macrame cord is that this particular cord is appropriate for inside or outside use and is fade and rot resistant. I'll be able to re-use this planter for many years to come.

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.

This hasn't been the best year for growing anything in my part of the country except maybe cacti, but I've got a few berries coming on now and the two plants are now FOUR!

'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!


UPDATE!

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!




For more information about the "Strawberry Fields for Everyone" project, please visit Corona Tools' site dedicated to the project.



The three strawberry plants were provided to all entrants by Stark Bro's, and Corona Tools sent a trowel to help with the planting.






46 comments:

BackyardWisdom said...

Love the concept! I have been using this exact same container and lining method for the last several years. My 3 tier fruit basket cost 50 cents at a yard sale. This year I am growing 2 different colors of puslane in the 3 baskets. Never thought about trying something like strawberries in it. Will have to give that a try next year.

Julie said...

Very creative and so cute. I've been looking for ideas to grow more strawberries next year. This is perfect. I can hang them from the patio cover, dress up the space and keep the berries out of dog's reach. Thanks.

The Imperfect Gardener said...

This idea makes me want to use this idea to hang something useful, like strawberries, instead of the usual fern. Plus it looks WAY more interesting! Thanks!

Finding My Green Thumb said...

Great Idea indeed, I love the 3 tier basket idea, as well as the red ribbon. Not only does it play well with the green foliage, but im sure it will definitely help accent the red fruits as well (for as long as they can stick around before being eaten :-) ) Good luck on winning the prize!

Becky Weimer said...

What a great idea for a gardener who has little space or just a balcony! I really like your combining the red cord with the red plant and the foliage. Nice work!

Becky W.
Punxsutawney, PA

Allison said...

This is a great idea. I had planted my strawberries in two hanging wire baskets, this year, but they really didn't produce well at all. I had read that hanging them will deter garden pests from eating the fruit. The space issue is great, but that is what really sold me! However, I haven't had any good luck with the organic potting mix I used this year. Perhaps they needed more fertilizer than usual, but I haven't had time to get back to them with it again. I sort of gave up. Eating healthy and organic is far more important to me than being able to eat home-grown produce. Hope yours develop more though. Good luck! ~ Allison @ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Garden-Gossip/148287591910752

Lona said...

I am so glad you posted about this. I love strawberries and have very little land or good spots to grow them. This is not only a cleaver idea but a cute one also. I am now wondering if I could even grow them in my tipsy pots? Maybe.

Shawna Lee Coronado said...

Go! Go! Go! You can do it Kylee!

Shawna

Annie Haven | Authentic Haven Brand said...

clever planting idea love the share <|;-)

Betty819 said...

It sounds like it will work but will the red cord attract birds, especially hummingbirds even more? What a decorative idea..you go for it, gal! Good Luck in the contest.

Backyardwisdom..you were smart to plant purslane in the basket. I bought one plant last year and didn't know about its spreading habit and planted it in my flowerbed and you know the rest of the story. Yep, it became invasive and I dug it out and threw it in yard waste bag. It is in the succulent family and will grow anywhere I found out. It is such a pretty plant when it grows but the only way I'd buy it again is to plant it in a pot by itself. Gardening is all about trial and error. Boy did that hold true of that experience!

Anonymous said...

Wonder if portulaca would grow in those 3 tiered baskets? Hmm!

Kara said...

This is so clever! I love how you added subtle creativity to something so simple. Do you have any for sale? :)

Anonymous said...

What a clever idea. Beautiful to look and provides juicy berries as well.

Andrea G in Morgan Hill, CA said...

This is a great idea. We have the land, but we also have hoards [I mean HOARDS] of big slugs, snails and ground squirrels. A few of these hanging baskets might be enough for us as long as those HOARDS can't figure out how to get at them.

thanks Kylee!

Anonymous said...

Kylee--I should have taken a look at this cute planter today! I love the added red accents. Good luck with the strawberries and the contest. Maybe next time, I can have some "fresh strawberry pie" when I stop by! It was good talking to you today! Lois

Jenna said...

I love it! I really like the red accent. Goes perfectly with the strawberries! I would even let you make one of those for me and I could hang it on my front porch :) So creative!!

Jenniferkdesign said...

I really love this idea and plan on trying it out next year in my garden. It looks beautiful. And anything that will help cut down on weeding is a bonus! :)

urbanshopgirl said...

I love, love, love this! It's not only a great way to grow edibles, but any plant. Wonderful for any small area (patio, apartment balcony etc.) Did I mention I love it???????

Anonymous said...

Great idea! I have not had much luck growing strawberries on the ground. This may inspire me to try to grow them in containers. - NHGarden

Patty Craft said...

I LOVE the fact that you're willing to admit to the skeletons in your basement ;-). Macrame cord! I've been cleaning and purging my closets this week and am amazed at the stuff I thought I needed to keep. The planter/planting idea is brilliant, too! Next year I'm growing strawberries. Strawberry Fields for Everyone indeed!

Chris Tidrick (@ fromthesoil.com) said...

Love the container Kylee. Especially mixing the edibles and ornamentals. Great work!

Kristin said...

Love this way of growing strawberries. I grow mine in a large container but they are not as productive as in the ground.it's nice to be able to just eat them as you garden.

Melinda said...

Fantastic idea! I've used these baskets for storing all manner of things in and outside the house, but never thought of planting fruit or flowers in them. Currently have three unused baskets tucked into the attic. Know how they'll be used next year ;)

Louise said...

Not only very functional but a cleaver concept. I love the clever things people do. You are very creative.

personalgardencoach said...

Very cute idea Kylee! Until I saw the close up shot of the cording, I thought it was colored elbow macaroni. I don't have my glasses on though either! :-)

Caro Webster said...

Kylee, I just love this idea! I'm going to have a go with my 8 year old. You've really inspired me. I think though that we'll add some fairies into the mix. Thanks for sharing. x

Anonymous said...

I love your idea Kylie....you are always so creative and fun with your plants :) and yummmooo for strawberries !!! Brennie :)

Erin @ The Impatient Gardener said...

Honestly, I love this idea. In fact something like this is the ONLY way I would grow strawberries. I'm just too stingy with my garden space to dedicate a lot to something like strawberries. This is beautiful (I don't find strawberries to be a particularly attractive plant) and highly functional, not to mention a space saver. Very creative!

Debbie TOpe said...

What a cute idea !!....and I love the colors. I really think I'm going to use this idea for myself....if you don't mind....!!!

Kylee said...

Backyard Wisdom ~ It's all in thinking outside the box, isn't it? We grow hanging flowers, so why not hanging veggies and fruits? Although I'm not a big fan of the hanging tomato thing.

Julie ~ I don't have a dog, but you're right - this would keep him/her out of them!

Carol ~ Have fun with it! :-)

Finding My Green Thumb ~ Thanks! That's why I added the red ribbon and used the red ball and red begonias. That touch of color when they're not "with berries."

Becky ~ Thanks, Becky! Yes, definitely an idea that works for a balcony garden!

Kerrie and Carol said...

Very special idea. Going to the basement to dig out unused tiered basket. You inspire us. WE have potato barrels overflowing because of your earlier post about growing potatoes.
Thanks, Kylee. When we share ideas we all become better gardeners. :)

Reid said...

Very creative Kylee! Someone mentioned it being a good way to keep pets from getting into it. That made me think it would help keep my boys from reaching it and devouring all the berries before I got a sample!!

barbara wise said...

Great idea!! can't wait to pass it on.

Connie LaBounty said...

I think you are a wonderful gardener and I am anxious to try this next year! Who would have thought to put strawberries in a hanging pot? Brillant idea.....almost no weeding! Once again, Kylee, you gently taught me something new to try!

Claire Benson said...

I love this post. I garden in a small garden and am ways looking for ideas to save on space and this year grew strawberries in hanging baskets. It worked great for several reasons. In the UK we haven't had too much sunshine so guarantees the strawberries more access to the sun when it's shining. Another benefit was the usual pests didn't find them! And finally the strawberries didn't rot from sitting on the ground as they were dangling in the air. Would love to hear anymore space saving ideas you may have.

Claire

Sarah said...

Why couldn't I think of this?! This is really cool, Kylee!

Wasco said...

Mmmmmm, now you can grow lots of strawberries and serve me strawberry shortcake when I come to visit. :)

ATMouse said...

I really do like this idea - it is open and airy. Lord knows I've seen enough moldy berries from being down and smothered!

And it has the virtue of being lovely and gracious to the eye as well. Nicely done, Kylee, nicely done.

Joseph Whidbey said...

Cute idea! I love anything that makes it easier to grow strawberries!

But what are you going to use for macrame now? :)

Allison M. said...

Amazing idea! I take all my cues from your success!

Jason said...

We've had moderate success growing them in our raised beds in Texas, but occasionally a critter gets to them before we do. This looks like an idea worth trying!

C. Washington said...

I tried one of those strawberry pyramids once. It didn't hold as many berries as I thought it would, and it sure took up a lot of space. I like your idea a whole lot more!

Bob said...

Even if you have acres, which we do, this sounds like the perfect way to get started... Thank, Kylee!!!

Jayme said...

I love this idea Kylie! I'm always looking for ways to grow hanging strawberries, the slugs are relentless up here in the Northwest, not to mention my little frenchie and the four chickens!

S. Kargoe said...

Kylee, you keep coming up with the cutest - but most practical - ideas! This is great, I'll have to give it a try next Spring.

Kylee said...

Thank you for all your kind comments! The winner will be announced this weekend at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium. I think there are several others that have great ideas, too, and that had good success with their berries. We all end up being winning gardeners though, because we spread our gardening wings and learned how to grow berries in almost no space at all!

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