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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Strawberry pots for culinary gardening

Strawberry pots for culinary gardening

Strawberry to Herb Pots
 Comfy Country Creations features a large selection of books, gifts and accessories for the gardener. One of my favorite commercial containers is the strawberry pot. Here is a container with the capability to hold several different types of herbs, flowers or strawberries for that matter, all in one location. As a herb pot, it can be brought inside when the weather turns cold to continue supplying fresh culinary ingredients.

The first time I used one I would have fallen under the title of "greenhorn gardener". I filled it top to bottom with a good potting soil mixture so it would house the strawberry plants I had been babying. With the weight of the dirt and pot moving this container was an experience in itself and watering was a daily task. The strawberries, although tasty, were not abundant and that fall, I transplanted the berry plants to their own permanent bed. Undaunted by the experience, I cleaned out the pot and decided it was now be destined to house a herb garden the next spring.

The winter months gave me the chance to research herb gardening, which was also new for me. I quickly learned from several friends that the strawberry pot was indeed a great place to plant my new crop. As spring approached and the garden centers were gracious enough to open their doors filled with every herb I could think of, I started preparing my pot in readiness of its new tenants.

Other pots used for annuals had always been prepared with some type of filler in the bottom of the pot so as not to use excess dirt and make them easier to move. The decision had been made to make this pot as mobile as possible; therefore, filler was going to be a part of the planting process. Placing plastics, styrofoam chips or broken clay pots in other containers before adding the soil hadn't bothered any annuals I had previously planted. This method was to be included in the new herb pot as well, with a slight variance. I wanted to make sure the plants at the bottom of the pot were receiving the moisture their roots needed as well as having a system that did not require me to water everyday.

I started with a two-quart plastic milk jug. NOTE (1) Holes were poked all over including the bottom. Discarding the cap, I attached an old piece of garden hose about 18" to 24". NOTE (2) Ideally, the hose would have a female end still attached to it. NOTE (3) The hose was inserted three inches into the jug, at the neck opening and secured with duct tape. It is important to make sure the opening to the jug is completely closed. This was going to be my watering device. NOTE (4) No dirt yet!

I placed pieces of broken clay pot in the bottom of the strawberry pot to ensure the drain hole in the bottom wasn't covered. This is very important so any excess moisture has a place to go. The water jug then was placed into the pot, hose attached.

Now comes the dirt. With the jug centered in the pot, I started adding soil. As dirt was placed to each opening in the pot, I gently inserted the roots of the herbs into the holes of the pot from the outside. Securing them in place with dirt and then adding dirt to the next level of openings. When the dirt reached the top of the water jug, I angled the hose to one side for easy access and continued with the process of adding dirt and herbs.

I like to plant Rosemary, or Chives on the very top, or if you prefer, add a few annual flowers. Some of my other favorite herbs are Marjoram, Basil, Thyme, Penny Royal Mint, Parsley and Sage. To add color I'll include Pansies, Nasturtiums or Johnny-Jump-Ups all of which are edible as well.

When choosing herbs and where you are going to place them in your pot, pay close attention to which ones trail, spread, are compact or invasive. Some mint plants will try to sprout from all of the openings.

This kitchen herb garden fits very nicely on a deck, patio or sunny spot in your kitchen. If you are located in an area that freezes, I recommend bringing the pot inside when this time a year rolls around. These pots are not built to shield your plant roots from frost and if left outside, you run the risk of loosing your plants.

Over the years, I have found that adding this type of water reservoir in my outdoor garden pots eliminates water wastage and ensures the plants get enough to drink.

  • (1) Any type of plastic container with a small neck opening will work. The water container needs to be conducive to the size of strawberry pot you are using
  • (2) A piece of PVC pipe or other tubing works as well. I like the garden hose, as it is small and flexible, allowing it to be less conspicuous in the pot.
  • (3) If you leave a female end on the hose, you can attach your garden hose to fill the reservoir you have made. This is not a very big holding tank; therefore you do need to fill it slowly, with little pressure or you may blow the top out and possibly burst the jug.
  • (4) I suggest doing a test run before inserting your water jug into you plant pot. You can do this by pouring water through the hose (use a small spouted watering can) into the jug. The purpose of the holes in the jug is to leak the water out into the pot at a slow rate that will keep the roots moist not swimming.

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