Monday, October 1, 2012

Overwintering the Strawberry Container Garden


Breathe in...


Breathe out...


Breathe in... so much so that the trees and wildlife seemed to be clinging to anything they could in order to keep from getting sucked up into my lungs.

The night that the freeze occurred  I lugged the strawberry plants into the garage.  I knew that the temperatures would rise again, and didn't want any unfavorable results to occur because of this brief freeze. The garage seemed like the perfect option.

I had no idea they'd be this heavy, though..  Sure, my EarthBox  is large (I highly recommend these.  They're awesome!), but the strawberry plants are quite small.  How was I supposed to know that I needed Herculean strength to get them into the garage?  It was only about 15 feet away, after all, and I'm not a lazy, inactive person...

I had forgotten to take one slight factor into account, though.

What started as three ever-bearing  strawberry plants

has turned into...

Well, let's just say it's turned into a lot.

A lot of strawberries that I'd have to take back out of the garage, again.

Strawberries have a tendency to shoot out runners.  These long, vine-like growths seek out soil in the near vicinity.  If they find some that they can rest in, they, in turn, grow roots and become a brand new plant.

My daughter's strawberry garden is now filled with plants.

Sadly, though, the garden wasn't filled with actual strawberries.  Only about 5 fruits grew, in total.  Of those 5 fruits, only 2 were actually eaten by humans.  The rest went into the happy bellies of resident critters.

My guess is that while they didn't produce much fruit this year, next year we may get quite a bit.  I believe that the stress of being planted in their new containers may have effected their growth. My daughter and I will, of course, work with them again next spring in hopes of getting a nice fruit harvest.

This, of course, means that I need to make a decision about which overwintering method would be best.

Thanks to George Weigel, who answered that very question for a reader, I have a few ideas.

I could:

  • Transplant them directly into the ground, and let Mother Nature do all of the work for me.
  • Place them along the side of a wall of the house, then use something additional to protect them, such as straw, or even the leaves that I raked up when I went through The Autumn Purging.
  • Place the strawberry plants in another, larger container, then fill that larger container with protective materials.
  • Dig a hole, and plant the entire strawberry container inside (a variation of the first option). 
  • Lug the whole container into the garage and let it sit there, occasionally watering the soil so the dormant plants don't dry out.

Lots of options here!

After narrowing down these choices, it's obvious that I can't go with a direct transplant.  The phytotoxins that originate from the black walnut trees would destroy the plants.  That's why we placed the strawberry plants into containers in the first place, after all!

Of course, that also means that planting the container into the ground would be risky.  I don't want the strawberries sucking up all of that juglone!

Since the black walnut is such a concern, I'm going to avoid keeping them outside, at all.  The protective materials, quite naturally, would end up primarily being raked-up black walnut leaves, and since the resident squirrels love to dig, those leaves could end up inside the container.

The garage is the safest bet.  It'll stay cold, but will help protect the dormant roots from freezing to death.

And, heck!  It really doesn't hurt to do some extra weightlifting, right?


  1. Love your blog, just stumbled upon it via google search for "DIY grow bags" :)

  2. Thank you so much! I'm glad you decided to stay for a while on this visit, as well. It's great to have you!