By: Veronica Sliva
Other than being an expert on eating them and doing the “pick your own” thing in my stay-at-home Mom days, my only experience with strawberries has been growing an ornamental variety called ‘Pink Panda’ (Fragaria x ananassa). Not intended for eating, this one has bright pink flowers and makes a pretty ground cover. But with all the emphasis these days on growing your own food, I decided to forget the ornamental strawberries and grow some that will bear fruit we can eat.
Last April I started the seeds of a French Alpine variety called ‘Mignonette’. With a cute name like Mignonette who wouldn’t be smitten? This petite variety is supposed to be great in a window box or even as an edging for a flower bed. The seed is from Renee’s Garden, one of my favourite seed suppliers. Not only are her seed packets gorgeous, but the seed is always reliable.
Right now my Mignonette (above) has lots of tiny green leaves but no flowers yet…mon dieu, perhaps it is too soon? Only time will tell.
In my front garden, the previous owners planted a little Alpine strawberry (above) called ‘Golden Alexandria’ (they left the tag on). The leaves on this perky plant are a bright yellowish-green colour. Even if this plant never produced a fruit, I’d still welcome it in my garden. But, I have already enjoyed a few of the oh-so-sweet, tiny, juicy little berries that have been ripening daily.
Suspended strawberries; strawberry pot
Suspending strawberries off the ground is a great way to keep slugs, snails and assorted bugs off them. I love the idea of growing them in a hanging basket.
When I was at the Loblaws media event back in early May I was given a couple of hanging baskets planted with strawberries to try. The tag did not indicate the variety (shame on that grower!), but I’m thrilled with the performance of these plants. I hung them on a pole in full sun, kept them moist and we’ve been picking a few large, juicy berries every day for a couple of weeks now. They just keep on coming!
The flowers (left) are a lovely hot pink and the leaves turn a rich burgundy colour…so as an ornamental these strawberries are tops too!
Since I was on a strawberry planting kick in the spring, I decided to use a 30-inch terracotta “strawberry pot” (that I usually plant with herbs) for its intended purpose. The idea is to have strawberries growing out of the pockets in the sides of the pot and also cascading from the top…a great idea, but I find filling the container without the soil falling out all over the place a little challenging.
Here are some tips on planting a strawberry pot:
- Be sure to use a commercial soil-less potting mix rather than garden soil. It’s less likely to get compacted and provides better drainage and aeration.
- Before filling the pot, cut a piece of PVC pipe slightly longer than the height of the pot, drill holes along its sides every couple of inches. Center the pipe vertically in the pot while planting so that water poured into the pipe seeps into the potting mix (the pipe will be obscured by the plants on top).
- Scoop the potting mix into the pot until it fills the lowest openings.
- Set plants into the lowest pockets, and pack potting mix firmly around the roots.
- Continue scooping potting mix into the pot to the higher openings and plant the same way until all of the openings are filled.
- Plant the top of the pot as you would a standard pot.
- Water the pot by pouring water through the PVC pipe, and gently water each pocket to avoid flooding and dislodging roots.
More on growing strawberries in hanging baskets