By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Everyone that can go outside can grow fruit of some sort.
Strawberries are an easy fruit to start with if you are a beginning gardener and/or apartment dweller.
This project requires more planning then what is needed when using a strawberry container, but it is well worth the effort, especially if space is limited.
To begin the process, first decide if you want to start your strawberries from seed or just buy the plants. Growing strawberries from seed is not difficult to do but you will need to do a little homework. If seeds are your passion, count 12 weeks back from the local frost-free date. This will give you the best date to plant your seeds.
When planting strawberry seeds, it is important to use clean equipment. This includes the flats and hand tools that will be used. To clean the tools or propagation, place them in a bucket of bleach water and let soak. Once clean remove the equipment from the bucket and thoroughly rinse off. Let air dry in the sun, if possible.
Once the tools are dry, fill the flat with a good germination mix and submerge the flat in water. Remove the flat and let drain completely before planting the seeds. Then sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and lightly cover. Wait for the seeds to germinate and grow until they have 3 to 4 leaves.
After the seedlings have developed their 3 to 4 leaves, it is time to begin planting the flower pouch. A flower pouch is planted much like a strawberry jar. To begin the process, place an all-purpose potting soil in the bottom of the bag until the level reaches the first “Xs”. Then, place the strawberry plant into the flower pouch by pushing the plant through the bag from the inside.
Once the first two strawberry plants are placed in the bag, fill the bag up again until the next set of “Xs” are reached. Continue this process until all the “Xs” are filled. Let the bag set on a flat surface until the roots of the strawberry plants have rooted. This can take one to two weeks to happen. During this time, keep the flower pouch watered by hanging up, watering, and letting the bag drain. After it has drained lay flat again.
After the roots have secured themselves into the soil, take them outside and hang where you would like them to be located, preferably in full sun. This is the time when the top of the flower pouch will be planted. Add any additional soil to the bag and plant the strawberry plants in the top. Water the flower pouch in and continue to monitor the moisture level of the soil.
The best strawberry types to use for this project are everbearing and day-neutral. Everbearing strawberries are those that produce the largest crop in June and produce a second crop in August until a killing frost. The day-neutral strawberries are those that produce a heavy crop in June and continuously produce until a killing frost.
So until we blog again, creating your own strawberry fields forever, as the Beatles would say, is easy to do in the garden, patio, and balcony too. Just remember thou, that once you taste your own strawberry field, there is no going back.