Over the past three days I've posted various aspects of growing strawberries. In general strawberries can be planted in the ground, in raised beds, and in containers (eg. expandable tower, hanging, patio). They really are rather problem free for the most part. Simply plant and occasionally feed with an organic fertilizer along with a little epsom salts and forget them. Quite honestly 4 strawberry plants will be enough to give you plenty of strawberries in their second year. Here's a few things you need to know.
There are two types of strawberries, June bearers and ever bearing. June bearers fruit in June hence their name. Ever bearers bear fruit year round so are the better choice if you want to use them for an indoor continuous harvest. The second thing to keep in mind is your winter climate. In cold winter climates that dip below freezing potted strawberries should be brought indoors in the fall then returned outdoors after the danger of frost has past in the spring. The third think to consider is moisture. Keep your strawberry plants moist, not too wet but don't let them dry out.
There are at least 3 pests that are destructive to strawberries, mainly the fruit although in dry weather birds have been known to attack berries for their juice:
- slugs - Slugs will eat a lovely trail across your strawberries. Place a strip of copper wiring around the perimeter of raised beds and container sitting on the ground about 4 - inches from the top of the bed. Copper effectively electrocutes snails and slugs. Take about 20 pennies and scatter them throughout the strawberry patch or place copper wiring in a grid fashion throughout the strawberry patch. If you don't want to use copper place a board on the soil surface at night then manually remove the snails the following morning. Do not use snail bait as that can harm toads and frogs.
- strawberry sap beetle - These small black beetles with yellow spots are about as annoying as they can be. They invade when fruit is ripe or overripe and will make holes and tunnels in the berries. A daily clean pick will prevent the strawberry sap beetle from invading. After picking check the bed for any over ripe berries that may have fallen into the bed and remove them as well. Beetle traps can be used to curb the attack as well but my experience has been the clean pick is most effective because it prevents attracting the strawberry sap beetle in the first place.
- deer - We have deer in the area but have not had them bother the gardens at our last house or this one but that is more due to the overall location. Deer actually ran through our last garden! Deer will strip down strawberry plants. Short of fencing with at least 6 - foot high fencing there is little you can do to keep deer out of a traditional in ground style garden in the open where they can get to it. There are a few deterrents such as the motion activated sprayer (Scarecrow) that may help. Growing strawberries in vertical containers or hanging baskets close to the house will put them out of harms way from deer.