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Strawberries are delicious when they’re fresh off the plant and yes, you can grow them directly in the ground if you have enough space. But planting strawberries at ground level is like ringing the dinner bell for every pest in a 5-mile radius.
Aside from destruction from rats, mice, squirrels, slugs, birds, and just about every other fruit-loving pest you can think of, when you grow strawberries in the ground, you’ve got limited control of water and soil quality.
If you have a prolonged wet period after the fruit sets, for example, there’s a good chance that a large portion of your ripening fruit will rot where it touches the wet earth or the wet straw that you lovingly pack around the plants.
So we’ve put together some of our favorite ways to grow strawberries organically. Each method is low-cost and will help you maximize your fruit yield. Because you’ll also be repurposing or reusing common throw-away items, you’ll also be getting a little bit greener, too.
1. Grow Strawberries in Pallets
You can get hold of old (or new) wooden pallets easily. Often, shops or construction sites will allow you to take them away for free. And they make an awesome base for strawberries. There’s a couple of different methods. You can simply place the pallet on the ground, fill it with soil, and plant your strawberries, which helps keep the fruit raised off the wet earth. But it doesn’t help much with pests. So, take a pallet, cover the back and sides with landscape fabric (this is the fabric I use), then fill the pallet with soil. Plant your strawberries between the slats.
Let the pallet sit on the ground for a couple of weeks so that the soil settles and the strawberries start to root. Then stand the pallet upright and attach it to a wall, fence, or a couple of well-seated stakes. And bam, you’ve got your very own wall of strawberries.
It’s easy to net to keep birds off, and it’s a great way of getting a high yield of strawberries from a small space. What could be better than a vertical garden full of strawberries? You can add drip irrigation lines for even watering to make life easier, too.
2. Grow Strawberries in a Shopping Cart
This is a ridiculously easy way to grow strawberries organically. You frequently find those large shopping carts from the grocery store abandoned. They get dumped by the side of the street, in woodland, in wasteland, and all too often in rivers, lakes, and waterways. So they’re easy to get hold of. Plus you’ll be helping to clean up your local environment.
Growing strawberries in a shopping cart is a particularly good option if you experience harsh winters, as you can simply wheel the cart full of strawberries under cover for the winter months. If the cart is made from a fine mesh, you can simply fill it full of good quality topsoil and plant your strawberries on top and all around the sides.
If, however, the cart has larger holes in it, you’ll need some porous weed suppressant or hessian cloth. Line the cart with your fabric, then fill it up with soil. Plant the top of the trolley with strawberry plants, then use a sharp knife to carefully cut the fabric along the sides where you want to place more plants.
3. Grow Strawberries in Old Tires
Classed as environmental waste in many areas, old tires are always readily available. Because of the ever-tightening restrictions on how environmental waste is disposed of, many businesses have to pay a properly registered company to take away and destroy their old tires. So, if you turn up at a car repair shop or tire fitter’s, they’ll most likely jump for joy when you ask if you can take away some of their old, useless tires.
You can use tires of any size, from standard car tires to giant tractor tires. Make sure you give them a thorough wash with hot soapy water and a stiff brush (this one is easy to hold and it has very stiff bristles) to remove any chemicals and road debris – you don’t want any nasties leaching their way into your plants.
If you’re not too bothered by appearances, simply fill each tire with soil and plant your strawberries. You can go as simple or as elaborate as you like. If you want something a little prettier or want a fun outdoor project with the kids, once the tires are clean and dry, paint them. Create colorful murals and pretty patterns – whatever you like.
You can simply put a single tire on the ground and plant your strawberries directly in the middle, or, to maximize space, stack the tires, carefully anchoring each one to the one below. Then fill with soil, and cut holes at regular intervals around each tire in the stack, and plant your strawberries in each hole. Growing strawberries in tires is cheap and insanely easy.
4. Guttering or PVC Pipe
Quick, easy, and effective, guttering or PVC pipe doesn’t cost much and lets you maximize your strawberry crop while saving space and helping to deter pests. There’s lots of different configurations to choose from – you can attach the pipe to fencing to make use of otherwise wasted space, or you can get a bit more creative and rig up a chest-high frame constructed entirely of PVC, and full to the brim with strawberries.
Once you’ve decided where you want your plants and how big your structure will be, get the pipe or gutter in place. Then, if you’ve gone for full gutter or pipe, cut small round holes along the length, pack it with soil, and plant the strawberries. You can also install a drip line (we find this one easy to cut and very flexible) for easy, even watering.
5. Plastic Barrels
Grow strawberries in plastic barrels or old water butts by simply washing the barrel inside and out. Cut small holes at regular intervals, pack the barrel with topsoil, and plant. It’s that easy.
6. Vertical Gardens
Now, I’ve covered vertical gardens in detail right here, so there’s no need to repeat the information. However, I will just say that strawberries work exceptionally well in vertical gardens. The fruit hangs beautifully and you get a high yield from a very small footprint.
All of these options work well for a whole host of other plants. Anything that tumbles or trails is a particularly good choice – like tumbling tomatoes, for example. You can also grow salad vegetables using any of the above methods.
Tire stacks are an awesome way to grow potatoes. You get a big yield if you add more soil and additional tires as the leafy portion of the plant grows. The tubers just keep multiplying and quickly fill a stack of 6 to 8 tires.
They’re also super easy to harvest, as you simply lift off a tire each time you want to grab some fresh spuds. You can grow pretty much anything in a shopping cart – even root veg like carrots and beets – so it’s a useful option if you have problems with moles or ground squirrels.
There are so many different ways to grow strawberries – and almost any other edible plant with repurposed items – these are just a few of our favorites.
We’d love to hear how you guys grow strawberries – or anything else for that matter. Leave us a comment or send us a pic!
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