Sweet strawberries… glowing crimson like lustrous jewels on warm summer days to be gently picked and smothered, still sun warm, with fresh cream. Such is a feast fit for royalty. To be truly sublime, strawberries must be picked at the peak of ripeness and eaten quickly. Once one has experienced them at their best, the insipid flavor of a store bought strawberry, picked too early and shipped for days, never quite satisfies.
Strawberry plants are inexpensive and hardy, but growing them can be rather frustrating. Their shallow roots make it difficult for them to compete with weeds and their low lying habit makes for much bending and crawling on the ground to care for them. Birds, fungus, and slugs love them and, because the berries touch the ground, these predators have easy access. But there is a better way!
A 55 gallon plastic barrel, a 2×4, 6” PVC pipe and some fittings, and some basic tools are all you need to build a beautiful self-fertilizing Garden Barrel with pockets for 48 strawberry plants. This Garden Barrel requires no bending, almost no weeding, no crawling on the ground, and less water. It can be used for many different annual vegetables, but I find it superbly suited to strawberries.
By growing them with this method, the berries never touch the soil and are exposed to great air circulation so fungus isn’t a problem. They hang in midair, ripening perfectly, until they are easily found and picked. There is even room for another crop (I like carrots) in the top of the barrel. I prefer not to plant strawberries on the top as the berries are once again lying on the soil. Slugs can be kept off the Garden Barrels with double sided tape coated with salt wrapped around the legs. I’ve also found that birds aren’t a problem since I painted little red strawberries on my barrel. By the time the real strawberries start to ripen, the birds have given up trying to pick the “fruit”.
If you would like to learn how to build one of these wonderful Garden Barrels, there is a free video at www.halfpinthomestead.com. There are also templates to mark out the pockets and other supplies for the Garden Barrels for sale.
Strawberry shortcake anyone?
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