I love strawberries but they can be a difficult crop. Vulnerable to birds from the air and slugs from the ground, sometimes you can lose over half the crop to pests. One way to get a good crop, without too much effort is to use a strawberry planter.
Luckily we don’t worry about birds going for the crops here thanks to the buzzards but slugs can be a massive problem. A few pet-safe pellets scattered around the base of the planter stops the slugs.
Best of all, the planter enables you to grow 28 strawberry plants in just over 2 square feet of space. Incredibly productive! It’s a bit of work to set up but once done there’s little to do apart from feed, remove runners and harvest delicious strawberries.
I had mine some time back from Twowests & Elliott and it moved here with us. Assembly took about half an hour, putting the cups into the planting holes took most of that.
One fault I found was that watering could be difficult. The water was washing out the higher planting holes before the base was thoroughly wetted.
To get round this, I placed a piece of guttering down-pipe in the centre with 10mm holes drilled in to allow water to trickle. 4 holes around the pipe at 3” intervals. Using a wood drill this only took 5 minutes. I then filled the pipe with large gravel to slow the water down allowing it to seep more evenly along the pipe.
Compost Mix for Strawberry Planter
The critical thing to success is the compost fill. It needs to be light and loose to promote root growth and to allow water to permeate easily. I used a mix of 2 parts good quality multi-purpose compost to 1 part vermiculite and added 35 grams of Miracle Grow slow-release fertiliser per 10 litres of compost.
I used a 15 litre bucket for measuring and my wheelbarrow for mixing. It’s far easier mixing smaller amounts than trying to do the whole lot at once. I bucket of compost, half a bucket of vermiculite and 70 grams (approximately) per mix.
Carefully put the strawberry plants into each of the lower planting holes. The way to do this is from the inside of the planter, sliding the foliage through and then pushing the root plug in, teasing out roots that are circling and top up with compost to the next level of holes.
Keep checking the watering pipe is centred and vertical as you fill.
Halfway through filling the planter, give it a good watering with a fine rose on the watering can, which helps the water soak in to the compost. The compost will settle a little. Top up and carry on filling, watering again once full.
Finally four plants go into the top of the planter and the job’s a good ‘un. Because of the nutrients in the compost and the slow-release fertiliser, all you need to do is to water and you should be harvesting a great crop in short order.
For the second and third years you’ll need to use a liquid feed. I use Miracle Gro as the season starts and follow on with tomato feed when the fruits start to form.
After the third year, dump the plants in the compost bin and the spent compost on the plot. Refill and re-plant with fresh plants. You can get your new plants from the runners growing from the old plants, pinning the growing nodes into pots of compost around the base or buy fresh stock if you prefer.