4 Things Need To Know Before Growing Strawberries in Your Apartment Garden
So, you’ve turned the tiny balcony of your apartment into a thriving container garden. You started with a handful of succulents, but now you’re growing flowers and herbs in your garden. Adding fresh produce to that mix seems like the logical next step.
The Next Leap for Your Apartment Garden
When it comes to container gardening, strawberries aren’t the first crop that’ll pop in your head. Most people would think about growing low-maintenance plants, such as salad greens, tomatoes, and eggplants in a container garden.
But if you’re someone who enjoys steering off the beaten path, growing strawberries in your garden can be a rewarding experience.
Imagine never running out of berries for your breakfast smoothies and pies. Nor do you have to travel miles to enjoy strawberry picking on a farm. If you decide to grow strawberries in your apartment garden, you’ll end up with one of the most memorable summers of your life.
But enjoying a bountiful supply of fresh strawberries from your garden isn’t as easy as getting seedlings from a local nursery and planting them in pots. You must have a clear idea of the optimal temperature, water, and fertilizer requirements of strawberry plants.
That’s why we’ve outlined a few key things you must know about growing strawberries in a container garden. Let’s dive right in.
4 Things Need To Know Before Growing Strawberries
1. Strawberries Hate Overcrowding
When you’re planting strawberries on the ground, each plant gets adequate water and nutrients irrespective of whether it's surrounded by a ton of other plants. That isn’t the case with container gardening.
That’s because pots can only hold a limited amount of soil. The nutrients in the soil deplete over time as well. So, overcrowding too many strawberry plants in a pot would mean pitting them against each other.
Each plant will have to compete with others in a container for water, minerals, and other resources. That, in turn, will affect their yield.
That’s why the first rule of growing strawberries in a container garden is to avoid overcrowding your pots. Make sure there are only three or four plants for every square foot of soil.
2. Strawberry Plants Don’t Die in Winter
That’s right. Contrary to what you might believe, strawberry plants only become dormant in winter. It means with the right care and protection they’ll be ready for harvest by next spring.
That’s why you should avoid leaving them outside during the freezing winter months. Move your plants to an interior space, such as the garage. If that isn’t an option, make sure you cover the plants with insulating material to prevent them from freezing.
It’s equally important to understand that strawberry plants need special care during fall. It’s the time when they reproduce via runners and start forming perennating buds. These are the buds that’ll turn into lush red strawberries in the next season.
So, you need to ensure that your plants get adequate nutrients and water throughout the fall. Supplement the soil with compost and liquid fertilizers. Also, insulate the pots to protect your plants from the sudden drop in temperature.
3. Strawberries Are Extremely Vulnerable to Heat
Of course, strawberries need at least eight hours of sunlight every day for a bountiful harvest. But when you’re growing strawberries in containers, the plants are subjected to more heat than they’d experience on a farm.
That’s because the soil in pots retains heat during summer, and remains warm for longer.
That, in turn, exposes the roots of your plants, to higher-than-optimal temperatures. Also, warm weather becomes the breeding ground for insects and fungi, which take a toll on your precious strawberries.
If you live in a region with a tropical climate, you need to take extra precautions to protect your strawberries during summer. Keep them in a well-lit, ventilated, and shaded area. Use a reflective cover on the pots to dissipate the sweltering summer heat. Also, it’s a good idea to spray the containers with water to keep the soil cool.
4. Don’t Let Those Runners Grow
Strawberry plants use runners to reproduce. But letting these runners grow unchecked could mean overcrowding your containers. Eventually, they could end up draining all energy out of the parent plants, thus affecting their yield.
That’s why it is important to snip runners before and during harvest season. You can let them grow during fall when the plants gear up for the coming year.
Growing strawberries in an apartment garden is not rocket science. You simply have to create the optimal conditions these plants need to survive and bear fruits. Also, make sure you don’t abandon your strawberry plants after harvesting their fruit.