Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Building A Recycled Gutter System For Strawberries

This is a great way to use recycled tin. We took this tin off of some of our raised beds. Mr. Garden fashioned it into gutters for growing more organic strawberries.

Strawberries grow a very shallow root system. They don't  need to have something deep in order to thrive and be productive.

My grandchildren were staying the weekend we started putting together the first section of planters. Needless to say they got very involved and had a blast helping put them together.

The two of them are very aware of the sweet and juicy organic strawberries we grow every year. I'm sure this had a lot to do with all of their enthusiasm.

We are starting this new season with a new variety called "Festival."  Check out the Gulf Coast Research and Education Website for more information on this plant.

We are starting off with bare root crowns purchased from "Neil's Berry Farm" in
The Woodlands area.

Neil's Berry Farm provided us with some awesome bare roots! Everyone of them took off as soon as they were put in soil with fresh green shoots. I highly recommend them for your starts as well.

Right where I have my lovely dirty fingernail in the photo is the point where you plant your crowns. Planted higher would be to far into the crown and cause your plants to rot. Planted to low would cause damage to the root system.

As you can see, we have our first three sections of planters completed and planted. The strawberries are loving their  new home.

We are using soil from the garden that contains a lot of sand and organic matter. This is important for great drainage. Strawberries love their water, but they certainly don't love being soaked in mud.

We mixed and added more composted material from our compost bins as well a some chicken poop from the coop as a top dressing for the added bonus of natural fertilizer.

I know it is kind of unusual for permaculturists such as ourselves to grow anything in planters such as these. However, we do have some very good reasons for turning to this system.

The Gulf Coast region can be a very harsh environment to grow strawberries in. The extraordinary high heat temperatures along with exceedingly high humidity will easily cause your plants to die in August and September.

If you couple this with severe drought conditions, all may be lost quickly. Here we are counting on a simple drip line for being able to easily water our gutters.

We've done this in past years on the ground strawberry crops and have difficulty being able to water deep enough after some time in drought periods.

As we work on getting the rest of the planters built we've went ahead and potted up the rest of the bare roots so the berries get off to a great start.

There are a few major pests and problems growing strawberries in our region. First being pill bugs and sow bugs. They love munching on your berries.

Growing them in our new gutter system will allow the berries to dangle down the sides of the planters to avoid the bugs.

Another common pest is fire ants. Why they love making huge mounds in the beds is beyond me. But they smother the plants with their mounds. I guess they enjoy feeding on the berries and really damage the root system.

The fire ants will be easy to control in the new planters. I'm hoping not to see any show up at all.

The third pest are birds. Here in our area the Mocking Birds swoop down right in front of you. The bite out a huge chunk of strawberry and fly back off. It can be quite frustrating.

We have plans of adding bird netting across the posts of the planters. We will probably change that with shade cloth when July strikes with its heat waves.

I hope to provide you with more information as the harvest season begins. In our regions we plant berries in the fall and harvest can begin as early as February. I've very excited at this promising new method for growing my beloved strawberries.

Happy Gardening!

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