Make It Happen: Strawberries in a Small SpaceApril 21, 2014
We know what you’re thinking: you’d love to grow your own produce, but darn it, you just don’t have the outdoor space. But before you resign yourself to another summer of suspiciously super-sized supermarket strawberries, consider green thumb Marie Viljoen, who turned her teeny Brooklyn terrace into an urban garden, and then penned a cookbook, 66 Square Feet: A Delicious Life, based on her experience. Marie generously provided a step-by-step guide to growing strawberries in a less-than-sprawling space. Follow her tips and you’ll be enjoying the perennial fruits, ahem, of your labor all summer long.
Å“April is an excellent time to plant this undemanding fruit, whose first flush of berries will ripen around late May. Strawberries are perennialsthey will return year after year. They also reproduce freely, so if you start with one or two plants, you’ll have a few dozen in a couple of years.
Å“When shopping for plants, look for the word everbearing, like the Alpine variety. This means that they will produce flowers and fruit throughout the year.
Å“Plant your strawberries in organic potting soil, in containers with drainage holes. They grow happily in containers as small as 6 across, but smaller pots mean you will need to divide and repot your plants more frequently; a 10″ pot is more ideal. Place your newly planted strawberries in full sun, meaning six hours of direct sunlight.
Å“If critter control is an issue, protect the plants with a loose covering of chicken wire. This deters squirrels, cats and thieving blue jays.
Å“Feed the plants every week with a granular organic fertilizer, liquid seaweed or fish fertilizer (don’t worry, the smell only lasts a day!). Mix a small bit into the soil every time you harvest a flush of ripe berries. Water them thoroughly when the top half inch of soil is dry. This will be daily in summerdo not rely on rainfall for potted plants.
Å“Pick the berries when they are plump and a bright, scarlet red. They last longer if you include a short piece of stem.
Å“Savor them as a simple picnic dessert, or with a decadent splash of cold prosecco.