In the Garden: Planting Strawberries

Planter FinishedA couple of years ago I tried NOT living in New York City. It didn’t go so well, but I think that had more to do with the who than the where. One thing I learned living in the middle of nowhere: it’s good to have a garden. Last summer I missed it so much I decided I’d have a Brooklyn garden no matter what! Fortunately for me my lovely landlords said yes when I asked to build planters to put in front of our apartment building.

One day I’ll show you how to make these yourself, but for now…aren’t they cute?! I started with fruit in one and herbs and vegetables in the other. Garden Planter ConstructionThis year my unstoppable passion for fruit dictates an expansion. I’ve nixed the vegetables altogether and the herbs are relegated to window boxes…along with hummingbird feeders!

You can see last year’s one successful raspberry cane growing up the trellis here. I planted six, but the others were burned out by too much sun too early in the season. Raspberry CaneI’m looking forward to a nice fruiting this year!

Blueberries prefer consistently moist soil, so I’m told. I planted mine along with the thriving raspberries. This planter is better shaded than the other and usually retains water a little better. I’m experimenting with a Dwarf Northblue in the front left and the low growing Patriot Hybrid in the right rear. Neither should need to be anchored, nor will they shoot up higher than three or four feet.

Blueberries and StrawberriesYou can also see the strawberries I planted last year are already coming back. Initially I’d wanted to fill the planters with soil up to a level a bit closer to the top, but I didn’t realize how big I’d made them and how much dirt it would take to fill them up! Between the two I bought and hauled over 600 pounds of earth.

What with being walled in at a depth of about 8 inches and the overlapping leaf cover due to the number of plants in the container, last summer the strawberries suffered some gray mold. But they’re ever-bearing, so we did have plenty of strawberries all summer long. And they only got bigger and better as the months rolled on. My largest, most beautiful specimen appeared in October!

OzarksOnce I decided to plant fruit in both planters this year, I knew I wanted to try a different strawberry. I selected Ozark Beauties because they are supposed to grow in a more upright fashion and do well in containers like the plant you see on the right. They’ve also been bred against virus and afflictions like gray mold. And they too are ever-bearing, producing fruit all summer and into the fall. And don’t they look plump and delicious?


Ozarks in Planter
Ozarks, Caroline and Triple Crown

I planted a Triple Crown blackberry cane purported to produce 20 pounds of fruit a year. This is at the right rear corner of the planter, so I can anchor it to another larger trellis I have yet to install. And I’m trying a different raspberry, the Caroline, over here too. It’s a fall bearer as opposed to the summer bearers I planted last year, so I’m maximizing the spread of my potential crops.

I don’t want to risk the same burn-out that happened last year, especially since we’re having another April heat wave. So I bought some all-purpose garden fabric and rigged up a removable shade for the sunnier planter. Just think convertible!

Planter CoverHonestly, I’ll probably have to thin out the planters in a month or two. I was so disappointed by the burnout last year that I over-planted. I can always thin out the strawberry plants by transplanting some of them to smaller containers, even window boxes. As for the cane fruit and the blueberry bushes, as long as I keep them pruned and anchored to trellises I think they’ll have enough room to thrive. After all my planters are four feet long and over three feet deep! Stay tuned to see what works.

Super Gardeners

By far the best part about planting this year is all the help I’ve been getting from my Super Friends, Kasey and Jackson. Don’t worry, Mr. Lee, we made sure they didn’t kill your lilies!


Hillery eventually learned not to say everything that came to mind. Some were too good not to write down.

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