Friday, March 06, 2009

My Strawberry Tower

On a recent sunny afternoon I stopped at the little local nursery. This isn't the type of nursery where you can count on getting what you want or's a small business that I imagine must make more money from landscape jobs than sales. More than once I've left without the item I'd hoped to find and this day was no exception. I had decided to plant a few potatoes and stopped by to see what varieties they had. The answer was none. All sold out and they weren't really sure if they'd get more in or not. And here I was, needing a nursery-purchase fix. The succulents tempted me as they have a nice selection but this time there wasn't anything I didn't already have. That's when I saw the strawberries and realized that I really should buy some...I could just picture those perfectly fresh berries in my morning yogurt. So I bought two 6 packs of everbearing "Fern" and went elsewhere on my potato search. Elsewhere ended up being the local Ace Hardware store where I did find some red potatoes and somehow managed to buy another 6 pack, this time June-bearing 'Chandler'. Of course when I got home I realized I had no available space in which to plant them. Not only that but my soil is quite alkaline which is not tolerated well by strawberries and to top it off the snail-slug-earwig season is just around the corner. The answer to my dilemma came to me later that night...I needed to put together some sort of container planter that would minimize garden space use, allow me to use potting soil better suited to strawberries, and keep those sweet berries off the ground so I had at least a chance of eating some before they were full of holes.
Today I headed out to find pots that I could stack to make a strawberry tower. I finally found plastic terra cotta-like pots in three sizes and headed home to see what I could do with them. I began by clearing a spot in the garlic-onion patch. It is close enough to the edge of the bed to be convenient and yet out of reach of little hands that might pick green berries. I put a layer of broken concrete left over from the patio demolition two years ago into the bottom of the biggest pot. Strawberries don't need deep soil, only about 6-8 inches, and I didn't want to waste the good potting soil. I filled the pot to the top with soil and put the next smallest pot on top. More concrete, more soil and then the smallest pot on top. I planted the strawberries around the edges, leaving me with the hardest job to come.
Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings and Carol at May Dreams Gardens tell me I will need to pick the blossoms off the first year to assure strong plants. I'm not sure I'll be able to do it. Maybe just some of the blossoms?


Meems said...

Looks like you are well on your way to some juicy berries in your yogurt. Strawberries farms are a huge money maker here. they start harvesting in early February. This year they are sweeter than usual due to the cooler climate we had this winter.
I know how you feel about those difficult pruning lessons... it's a tough thing but better in the end.
Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

Cindy, MCOK said...

What a cool idea! Maybe I should try that ... now where could I put it?

CiNdEe's GaRdEn said...

I bet I have been to the nursery in Davis. Is it the Redwood Barn? My brother sells some of his metal creations there.
My strawberries get eaten by the birds etc. I gave up trying to get any for myself!(-:
You guys have the greatest farmers market down there too!

EAL said...

Wow, I have never seen that method before. I really like it. It looks great. Good for you!

Unknown said...

Okay, this pretty strawberry tower makes me wish I hadn't devoted bed space to using strawberries as a groundcover! I love it and want one... :)

Oooh, now that I think about it, the ones that I do have planted in the ground are everbearing strawberries. Wonder if I could do a tower of June-bearing ones around here, and maybe enjoy some larger berries as a result? Do you think I could dolly the tower into the garage for the winter--or that the plastic pots would hold up here? (I feel comfortable asking you that, since you probably know the climate here better than I do!) :)

Annie in Austin said...

Looks very cool, Leslie! I haven't tried it here, but other Austin bloggers have grown strawberries. If they took off the first fruits there would be no fruits. It's so hard to get the plants to live through summer that the extension website says to plant in fall and treat them like annuals.
If I can remember your graduated-pots idea next fall I might try it -good luck!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

growingagardenindavis said...

I've got a few flowers on the plants already, Meems. I'm thinking about picking them off...! was easy to put together and the whole point is is doesn't take much space!
Yes guessed it. I like them and stop by often but don't always get to buy something. I'll have to check out the metal creations next time I'm there!
Truth be told, EAL, I saw something on line that gave me the germ of the idea. Then I downgraded to what I could afford!
Kim...I actually left there when I was 16...I never gardened on my own there! But I'm sure you could move the pots for the winter and they would do wonderfully! That's a great idea! could do the opposite of Kim...move the tower somewhere cooler for the dead of summer! If such a place exists???

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