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Growing Strawberries in Containers

Growing strawberries in containers is a fun and tasty way to add fruit to a small garden.

Many people with limited garden space think that it takes a big garden to be able to grow anything edible. Sure, a large garden is more capable of feeding your family than a small one, but small-scale gardeners have more choices then they might think.

Strawberries are well-suited to container gardening for many reasons. Their preference for well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter and a slight acidity is easy to recreate in containers. They have shallow roots, so they don't need frequent repotting like most container-grown plants. Strawberries are also pretty plants, with flowers in the spring and tasty fruit during the summer.

There are common three types of strawberries: June bearing, day neutral, and everbearing.

When growing strawberries in containers, look for day neutral and everbearing types. These strawberries put out fewer runners than June bearing strawberries, so you won't have to prune them constantly. You'll also get fruit more often; everbearing strawberries put out two berry crops per year, and day neutral strawberries produce fruit throughout the season.

When you plant your berries, fill your container about two thirds full of potting soil, with mounds of dirt where you are going to place the plants. Either put one plant in each of several small containers, or space plants about six inches apart in large containers. Pack dirt loosely around the roots, making sure to keep the crown (the spot where the roots meet the leaves) right at the soil level--not above or below.

When growing strawberries in containers, make sure they get plenty of sunlight. Strawberries are sun-loving plants, and they need at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. They are perfect for that balcony that never gets any shade. Don't let your strawberries dry out completely, but don't over-water them either. Let the dirt dry out slightly between waterings.

If you've chosen everbearing or day neutral strawberries, planted them in good soil and at the right depth, and provided plenty of sunlight, your strawberries should produce fruit during the first season. One taste will prove to you that growing strawberries in containers is a delicious alternative to mums and pansies.

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