Last year I planted a couple strawberry plants in my side bed where it’s quite sunny, as a bit of an experiment. I don’t have a lot of veggie space to devote full time to strawberries, but I thought it might be nice to pick a couple handfuls of berries now and then. Last year I didn’t get to taste them as they were just getting established, but this year they are producing quite a few berries and sadly, they SUCK.
First, the plants themselves are not producing any runners at all, which, in and of itself, isn’t that big of a deal but I am used to seeing strawberries go hog wild with runners. My grandmother had the most impressive stretches of strawberry beds when I was a kid, and that’s what I remember.
The fruits, which are fairly prolific, taste like utter crap. They taste rotten, even when just picked. And I’m already a very picky fruit eater, not being able to handle even the slightest taste of “off-ness” or texture that even hints at overripeness. Maybe it’s growing up in Canada where you get some pretty questionable fruit for parts of the year, I don’t know, but I’m always suspect of fruit unless I can guarantee it was just picked and is perfectly ripe. That’s why I love Canadian orchard fruits from the farmers’ markets — screw that crap that’s been shipped halfway around the world and picked before it has begun to ripen.
Anyway, getting back to my in-the-ground strawberries. They also seem to be very susceptible to slugs. I’ve sprinkled slug bait on the ground around the plants, and lifted the berry stems off the ground, propping them up with bricks. But even so, the berries are misshapen, ripen unevenly and are generally not very attractive looking.
Thankfully there is a happy ending to this story. I decided to try some hanging baskets on my porch.
I bought these about a month ago from Home Depot. I first just picked up two baskets. And then I realized I could easily fit four baskets, so I got a couple more. I put some baskets of wave petunias at the front, where the stairs go down to the sidewalk, which kind of hide the berries from anyone looking from the street. Not that I care or anything, but I like the colour.
These babies are happy as clams, spewing out runners that I’m trying to think creatively about how to root into more pots, all as I pick away at perfectly shaped, super sweet, blemish-free berries.
Now I won’t be making any jam with these pickings, but I can stuff my face with fresh off the vine goodness while I head off to work in the mornings. And that ranks pretty awesome in my world.
Unfortunately I have no idea what variety these are as they didn’t have any tags or labels. But that’s okay. They’re tasty, and that’s what really matters.
I’ve been reading that I should be able to bury these baskets under some hay or straw near the house to over-winter them. Or I could bring them into the basement and water them occasionally. If anyone has experience both rooting runners from potted strawberries, and overwintering potted berries, I’d love some tips.