ATTENTION: I officially have one strawberry growing in my strawberry patch!
My strawberry patch was another "gift" left in my backyard by the former tenant of my apartment. I found it planted in a bucket hidden under the snow in February. Strawberries are cold hardy perennials, so they need a restful cold period before they can begin sprouting again every spring.
You, too, can grow strawberries! Even if you don't have a yard, or have never grown anything before, strawberries are great easy container plants. Listen up:
There are two basic types of strawberry plants: June-bearing and ever-bearing.
June-bearing strawberry plants grow in cute tangled masses with long runners. The plant can take a year to become established, but it will eventually produce one strong harvest of big fruit each year (in June, duh). If you want to get scientific about it, this is the type of strawberry patch that Strawberry Shortcake had outside her shortcake home in the town of Cakewalk, Strawberryland. You know, next door to Huckleberry Pie.*
I think the plant I discovered in my yard is of the ever-bearing variety. Ever-bearing strawberries are the kind usually sold for container gardening because they grow in more of a contained lump than a spread out patch. They bear fruit continually from spring through summer, though it's smaller than the June-bearing fruits. The ever-bearing strawberries are like the snack producers and June-bearing strawberries are the jam & shortcake producers!
Once you've figured out what kind of strawberry you want to grow, here's what you do:
- Pick a spot that is sunny for most, if not all, of the day. This could be a balcony, roof, window ledge, fire escape- any place with sun!
- Buy a well-drained container for your space: Strawberry pots, grow bags and hanging planters will fit well in a vertical space, and traditional pots are good for your window sill or patio.
- Buy a mini strawberry plant from a garden center, farmer's market, online plant store... anywhere! Start with an established plant first, and once you get the hang of it, you can start your own new plants from seed the next year.
- When you buy the plant, pick up some potting soil. Don't just use dirt that you dig up from the side of the road! You need living, fertile soil to feed your strawbabies.
- Put plant and soil into pot. Leave the soil loose so the roots can easily spread around.
- Ta-Da! Strawberry plant! Water regularly through the hot months and let it chill outside during the winter. When you see dead leaves, cut them off. When you see red strawberries, eat them. It's that simple.
Here's a photo of my strawberry patch in context so you can see how mini it is (in the blue and white plaid pot). Good luck with your very first strawberry plant!
*editor's note: You might want to read the Strawberry Shortcake Wikipedia page... it includes important research findings, such as "inconsistencies" and "criticism" of the cartoon series. I had no idea it was such a serious issue!