Intro: Strawberries are a delicious and easy fruit to grow in a kitchen garden. Strawberry plants produce tiny white flowers, and quickly produce green berries that will turn red when ripe and ready to eat. Strawberry plants actually do best in plant containers, and benefit from being planted in a hanging container. Being raised off the ground reduces the chances that pests will damage it (e.g., slugs). As long as you keep your strawberry plant in a sunny spot in your balcony garden and make sure the potting soil doesn’t dry out, strawberry plants will thrive in your container garden.
Scientific Name: Fragaria ananassa
Plant Type: Perrenial fruit
Light: At least 6 hours of full sun a day
Water: Keep its potting soil moist at all times – don’t let the strawberry plant dry out, especially when the plant is producing fruit. But also do not let this plant's potting soil stay soggy.
Propagation: You could plant strawberry seeds, but the fastest and easiest thing is to purchase a strawberry plant, and then allow it to send off runners and reproduce. It should quickly fill out a plant container. Strawberry plants actually produce runners so effectively that commercial strawberry growers inhibit this “behavior” by placing plastic on the dirt around the plant so the plant focuses all of its energy on strawberry fruit production and not sending out runners.
Misc. Info: A lot of things can go wrong when growing strawberry plants in the kitchen garden. These plants are attractive to wild birds and a lot of insect pests, and they are also susceptible to many diseases. Don’t plant them in the same potting soil where tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or potatoes have grown in the past few years because these plants can Verticillium Wilt, a disease to which strawberries are very susceptible. Make sure to buy “perpetual” strawberries, which will produce fruit three times in a season. Provide them with a semi-sandy soil, and add fertilizer to the potting soil before planting. The best time to plant is in early September or early April.
Finally, there are three types of strawberries that you can purchase at your local garden shop:
– June-bearing strawberry plants produce one large crop in late spring. You'll get more strawberries per season with this type, but you’ll get them all within three weeks.
– Ever-bearing strawberry plants produce two crops a year: one in the spring and one in the fall.
– Day-neutral strawberry plants produce fruit throughout the growing season.