No matter how it rolls off your tongue, strawberries taste like summer. And right now, the beginning of Spring after any fear of frost, is the time to prepare your patch.
After plenty of web research (What is the difference between a June-bearer and an ever-bearer strawberry?) and procuring the necessary materials (15" hanging basket with coconut fiber liner, 15-20 young strawberry plants, organic potting soil, pruners, plastic bags) I got to work on my aerial strawberry patch. I bought three varieties of strawberries from a local nursery: Ozark, Sequoia, and Eversweet. I have both June bearers and ever-bearers so I should have, if all goes according to plan, a crop of red, ripe strawberries from June through August.
I'll take you through my process step by step:
1. Using your pruners or scissors, make 10-15 small 1/2" or so holes in the basket liner, alternating high and low spots as you move around the basket. We are reserving 5 plants for the top of the basket.
2. Add soil to the bottom of the basket, up to the first hole.
3. Cut a small hole in the bottom of a plastic shopping bag.
4. Add the plant, root-side first, into the bag and thread the roots halfway through the hole. (The green part of the plant should be IN the bag.) Twist the bag carefully while holding the bag to the rootball, until the end of the bag is nice and tight.
5. Thread the bag through your pot holes from the inside of the basket out. Tug gently on the bag to get all of the stem and leaves to the exterior then carefully remove the bag. If the hole in the bottom of the bag gets too big, just use another bag.
6. Repeat with the remaining holes.
7. Add soil around the root balls, gently pushing soil around and up under the roots.
8. Add the remaining 5 plants equal-distant apart to the top and fill with more soil. Give them a good dousing with water and hang in full sun!
9. Water regularly, especially through the hot summer months as potted plants dry out faster than those in the ground. Every once in a while turn the plant on the hook to maintain even sunshine distribution and cut off any runners for a more productive plant!
10. Thank the plants in advance for their strength, vigor and abundance and be positive. In a few months (or even weeks depending on your climate) you'll have your first harvest.
Now i just need to ask my upstairs neighbor if I can hang this on his deck. He has plenty of sun up there, while I am sequestered in almost full shade. Crossing my fingers that he'll acquiesce with a bribe of a few choice berries from my haul.