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Strawberries are easy to grow in container pots

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Strawberries are not just grown in traditional gardens but can also be grown in containers, window boxes and also in a container known as a "strawberry pot." These pots are shaped like an urn and have "pockets" up and down the sides. They look like dirt or water may fall right out of them. These pots are one of the easiest and most convenient ways to grow and harvest strawberries, which is are a member of the rose family.

The pots are made of different materials, some are plastic, some are ceramic and some are terra cotta. Any one of these is fine, but they each have features to keep in mind. The plastic pot may blow over with a lightweight potting mix, and the terra cotta may need extra water in the hottest part of the year. Ceramic pots are good because they are heavy, attractive and retain water well, owever, you may pay more for them. Whatever kind of pot you purchase, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom. This feature will ensure that the plant's roots won't be sitting in water and rotting. You may want to cover the drainage holes with some broken terra cotta or pea gravel to make sure the potting soil doesn't fall out. Also, pick a pot that will hold a reasonable number of plants.

When choosing the plants, count on one plant per side opening and three or four on the top.

There are two kinds of strawberry plants: the June-bearing, which produce fruit once a year and are best planted for reasons of preserving or freezing; and the everbearing, which tend to peak in early summer and continue on through the fall. This is the type to plant if you want fresh berries all season long.

A good and reliable strawberry cultivar is Ozark Beauty. This is an everbearing strawberry plant and has firm, sweet fruits.

Begin by filling the bottom of the pot. As you reach the holes in the sides, tuck the plants one by one through the outside of the holes, patting them with potting soil from the inside to hold them firm. When the pot is full, top it off with three or four plants and then water it thoroughly through the holes and from the top. Set the pot in full sun to partial shade. It is vital to water the plants daily in the summertime.

You should be able to find the pots, plants and the potting media at any local nursery or garden center. Use a soil-less media and consider amending it with a good compost or plant food. You may also want to look for some netting to place over your plants to keep the birds from eating the fruits.

Strawberry pots are a fun way to garden and can also be a good way for children to learn to enjoy gardening.

Strawberry pots are also a good way of planting a themed garden such as Italian seasoning herbs, items for making salsa or planting flowers of all one color. The possibilities are endless. Just remember that all of the plants you put in there need to be compatible and have the same light and water requirements.

There's nothing like a sun-ripened, freshly picked strawberry. Growing your own will offer you a sweeter strawberry because it is allowed to ripen on the plant. You will also know how it was grown. Home-grown strawberries are among a garden's supreme treats. Have fun and enjoy.

Barbara Michael has been a Master Gardener since 1993, and she serves as the Master Gardeners’ liaison to the Community Garden Coalition and serves on its board. She enjoys container gardening and houseplants. She can be reached at bam626_us@yahoo.com.


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