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This year I have been experimenting with growing strawberries in various sized pots.
I have about 40 plants in various pot sizes, ranging from a standard 6" pot up to large tomato pots, and I also have a group which I have grown in the ground as usual.
There did not seem to be a great deal of difference between them until fruiting time. Even though most of the plants were the same size, there was a significant difference in the size and quality of the fruit. The bigger the pot, the bigger the strawberry.
More importantly, the bigger the pot, the better tasting the strawberry. The ones grown in the ground were by far the biggest and were the strawberriest strawberries I have ever tasted. The large/middle size pots produced strawbs similar to the kind of stuff that we can all buy in the shops, and those in the 6" pots were small and positively tasteless.
Same variety, age, compost, location, feeding and watering regime.
I am not quite sure what to make of this, but assume that it has something to do with the importance of never letting strawberries dry out. It would appear that if their growth is checked in the slightest way, the effects on cropping are really significant. However, that is just my guess.
Any strawberry growing experts out the who can shed some light?
Hi RF, there's nothing like doing proper experiments to find what works best! I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I have grown a *lot* of strawberries over the years using all sorts of methods. I fully agree that planting in the ground produces the best crops, in size, yield and taste. Large pots or containers have worked next best. As far as pots go, I've yet to find one big enough that the roots didn't easily reach the bottom! Strawberries have very large (if fine) root systems and I'm sure that never allowing the plants to go short of water is the key. I've just taken the following photos of mine - same variety, same compost, watering and feeding regime. I put a £2 coin near them so size can be more accurately judged:
In a 10" soft polythene pot:
and in an 18" deep raised bed:
Guess what's for tea?!
bob you didnt mention growbags have you used them,are your plants all outdoors or are some in a greenhouse,how often did you feed
thanks in advance
Hi little-ann, I have tried them in growbags but found it difficult to provide enough water - I'd water them before work and often found them wilting by the time I got home (must have been one of those rare summers when we actually had some sun!) I always grow them outside - no room in the greenhouse. If you have to use containers, I'd recommend at least 30cm pots, or using large (60 or 70l) bags of multi-purpose compost rather than growbags as they will allow the roots to grow fully and they hold more water. You can cut a bag in half to make two 30 litre half bags as 'pots'. Use good compost eg JI No.2 or even No.3 as they will be in there for 3 years. Weekly feeding (I use comfrey feed, but tomato feed is fine) is essential once the flowers appear.
All the plants were in a mixture of garden soil and New Horizon peat free compost. I can't remember the exact ratio. Weekly feeding with Tomatorite. I too have tried the idea of hanging baskets but without much success, probably due to the difficulty of ALWAYS keeping them moist.
Interesting Bob that we have had very similar results. There are so many different types of strawberry planters available and I am beginning to wonder whether any of them can really produce the same results as ground grown plants. I suspect not.
When I bought my initial strawberry plants I went to a local nursery to try and get the best advice. I was told that pot size should not actually make a great deal of difference if you manage to keep on top of the irrigation, ie even if you have the plants in reasonably small pots where the roots may appear a bit restricted, it should not effect the outcome provided they are never allowed to dry out. NEVER being the key word. He intimated that if the growth of the plant is checked even once, the results will never be the same.
Like you, I have been watering twice a day but even this is sometimes not enough in the smaller pots. Next year I am going to set up some proper automatic irrigation and see if I can test this theory a bit more.
i have grown some in the greenhouse in growbags and they are delicious but they are running of of steam now, it is difficult watering in the bags and was wondering what to do when i get my new greenhouse.
thanks for the advice
APOLOGIES TO RAINWATER I HAVE JUST NOTICED THAT YOU STARTED THE THREAD SO THANK YOU.
can i ask you the same question rainwater re growbags ang greenhouse
No problem little-ann.
Whilst no expert myself, I agree with Bob that strawberries do pretty well most years outside and so I keep what little space I have in the greenhouse for those plants that really need it (chillies,peppers,cucumbers,aubergines etc). If your strawbs are running out of steam, it may well just be the fact that they are all the same variety with a short cropping season. It may be worth adding a couple of different varieties that are later cropping.
thanks i do have two variety in the greenhouse Sonata and Cambridge something i cant remember exactly.i don't have a lot of plants in there but we have enjoyed having them early. what variety would you recommend Rainwater you as well Bob i hope i will be able to have more room for next season.
i do have a bed outdoors as well unknown variety from Aldi but they are very tasty and make good jam this will be there third year so need to replace at the end of the season
It wasn,t an experiment but the best crop of strawberries I have had was when one year I completely neglected the bed, it became overgrown with grass. The result was that the stems supporting the strawberry grew upwards towards the light , which meant the berries were off the ground and suffered no slug damage.
Hi, Rain. Interesting experiment. It's understandable with the watering regime, if they dry out it's likely to set them back.
I have four new varieties this year, Pegasus - June fruiting, Rhapsody-mid to late, Honeyoye - early and Cambridge Favourite - June. A couple each in two big planters with flowers. They've been watered well and fed weekly after they started to flower.
Pegasus and Rhapsody started fruiting in June, this pot gets most sun and I've had some really big tasty strawberries. Honeyoye hasn't done as well, small strawberries with some going bad and Cambridge Favourite hasn't produced any fruit.They've all produced runners though.
It would be interesting to see if you got different results with different varieties, some may grow better than others in pots.