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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

KNOL: Planting Strawberries in a 5 Gallon Container: Roots and Crowns

Transfered from Goolgl Knol to be stored on my blog.

Strawberry plants are readily available for purchase. The only trick to planting them is being able to identify the meeting point of the roots and crown. If you bury the strawberry crown, there is a good chance the plant will die. Strawberries can be planted in containers and in the sides of containers for maximum yeild. This Knol shows you how to build a strawberry container from a 5 gallon paint bucket.

Planting Strawberries in a 5 Gallon Container:

Roots and Crowns

by Gary Pilarchik LCSW-C
For more information about gardening visit my blog: The Rusted Vegetable Garden
I love upside tomatoes. No I hate hate them. No I love them. I always struggle with the mid-summer watering for container tomatoes. They dry out quickly. As much as I love them, I only have been successful a few times. I can build a great upside down tomato container but... now it is time for strawberries.

Last year the tomato containers fell. The rope cut through them. So I decided to turn them into strawberry containers. The biggest thing about strawberries is you have to bury, that is plant them, the right way. Roots under ground. Crown above ground. Here are some quick pictures to give you an idea on how to plant them. You can use any kind of container.


The supplies...  A drill with the largest bit you have or another method for making a hole about the size of a quarter. You could buy a larger bit but you would have had to go out to the store and spend extra money. A round large bit will work.
The damaged bucket and a package of 10 June bearing strawberries from Walmart.  The paint bucket you can buy for about $5 at your local do-it-yourself-store. You can buy large plants in pint containers but 10 plants that way would cost you about $30. This bag of strawverries was $5 but they all won't survive. The bag holds bare root strawberry crowns. You will also need a bag of potting soil.

The large drill bit is set up and the strawberries are out of the bag. They are mostly root. The crowns have very little green. I cleaned up the bucket removing the busted handle and rope. The bucket is cracked but it will work for this year.



Making the Holes Around the Container:

Basically, I drilled 6 holes around the container. The drill was easy to control because the bucket is plastic. I drilled the hole and then used the edges of the drill bit to make the hole bigger. Gently rotate the drill bit in a circle until it chews out a hole about the size of a quarter.
You could drill a second level of holes beneath these. Start the second group of six holes about 4 inches below the first set. The only real difference is you would need more plants and need to water just a little more frequently through the season.

A nest of black flies attacked me from under the deck. Ah just kidding that is the shavings from drilling the holes.

Fill the Container Partially with Potting Mix:

Fill your container with good potting soil. Because your are using buckets or containers, you want moisture control garden soil or make sure you have a lot of organic matter in it. Fill the container to just below the first set of side holes.


What are Strawberry Crowns and Roots:

The crown is above my finger nail. The roots are below my finger nail. This plant has a green stem growing. You want to have the crown above ground and the roots fully covered with soil.

The picture below shows too much root coming out of the hole. The hole's edge should divide the plant right where the crown and roots of the strawberry meet.

This is the right way. The roots are tucked back into the bucket so only the crown shows. You don't have to be 100% perfect. The roots should be in the soil. If you bought pint container plants, make sure the green leaves and buds are out and the roots are buried. There is a lot of dried leaves and stems on this crown. The crown typically looks smaller.

Place all the plants in the container and gently spread the roots out.


Fill the Container and Plant the Top:

Fill to container to the top. The three plants that I had left, looked pretty beat up. I doubt they will grow but I planted them in the top of the bucket. If they take great, if not I might buy some larger strawberry plants in pint containers and plant them on the top. Just make sure the crowns poke out and the roots are buried.


Total Cost and Options:

The total cost is about $18 for all the material if you do it this way. It gets a little more expensive if you buy pint plants. They cost about $2 - $3 per plant. The benefit is they have lots of leaves and green and 99 out of 100 times take well to your container. If you buy the 10 packs of strawberry crowns, like I did, sometimes the crowns are dried and dead but it is hard to tell. If you don't have green growth in about 14 days, replant.
You don't need to use a bucket. You can use any container. You can just plant the tops of the containers too. The trick is to make sure you don't bury the crown of the strawberry.
Remember, strawberries send out runners to make more plants and they come back every year. Good Luck!

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