Not many things are as summery and cheerful as strawberries! In this instructable I will show you how to grow your own strawberries from seeds for virtually nothing! It is very fulfilling to be able to grow your own strawberries, AND even more fulfilling on a shoestring budget, using almost only recycled trash re-purposed for gardening. To the point! -
Step 1: Supplies
- Toilet Rolls (empty yoghurt pots or similar small plastic containers will work but will need drainage holes made in the bottom with a knife)
- At least one fresh strawberry (from the garden, a shop, or from the wild)
- Toothpick or similar object
- Scissor or Knife
- Small plastic box/container for easily carrying seedlings around
- Soil (from garden, a shop or from anywhere the outdoors)
- Transparent plastic bag or sheet of plastic from trash
- Trowel, spoon or hand for gathering soil with
Step 2: Find at Least One Strawberry
You could pick one growing outdoors or in the wild, or buy a pack of fresh strawberries from a shop.
Step 3: Extract Seeds
The seeds on a strawberry are those tiny little things found on the outside of every strawberry. Take one strawberry, and using a toothpick or knife point, scrape at the seeds to dislodge them and remove them from the fruit. It may be very fiddly to extract them from the fruit depending on the ripeness of the fruit and other factors. It is okay if a bit of the fruit's flesh comes with the seed. I placed them on a piece of paper towel to help dry them out. At this point you could extract far more than you are wanting to germinate to store for the future.
Step 4: Create Seedling Pots From Used Toilet Rolls
To create little pots for the seedlings to germinate in, acquire several used toilet paper rolls. It depends how many seeds you want to germinate, but using this method one toilet roll creates two seedling pots.
- Cut the toilet paper roll in half using a scissor or knife.
- Make roughly 1.5cm or 1/2 inch long slits about the same length apart all along one edge of the roll.
- Fold each segment so that each one overlaps the previous segment.
You now have small recycled biodegradable pots for your seedlings that can later be planted directly into a bigger pot once the seedlings have grown!
Step 5: Prepare the Seedling Pots
Using a gardening trowel, spoon or your hand, fill up each pot to the top with soil. You do not need to pack the soil in firmly - loose and well drained soil is best for germinating seeds because they need both water and oxygen to germinate. Once all the pots are filled, pour a little water in each pot, just so that the soil is wet, but not absolutely flooded with water. The soil will compact slightly as you water it.
Step 6: Sow the Seeds and Begin Germination!
- Get your seeds, and let one or two fall into the middle of each pot. Do not bury them. Strawberry seeds need light to germinate. It is ok if they fall into holes inside the soil slightly.
- Place the seedling pots inside a small plastic container, simply to make them easier to move around together, and place the entire container inside a see through plastic bag, or alternatively place a see through piece of plastic over the entire container. This helps keep the atmosphere around the seeds warm and humid. Seal the bag by knotting it or using a small piece of wire.
- Place the sealed container in a window sill or area that gets lots of light.
- Keep an eye on the soil and water it lightly if it feels dry to the touch. Opening the bag will also allow fresh air into the container.
Varying greatly depending on the seed condition, variety, season and ambient temperature etc, your seeds will hopefully germinate and create small visible seedlings in around 2 to 3 weeks. The seeds that I sowed that are pictured actually created small visible seedlings in 11 days. (UK, summertime).
Once the seedlings (tiny plants) appear, remove the plastic bag or plastic lid, because the intensified sunlight can burn them in a sealed container at this stage.
Step 7: Transplanting and Harvesting!
To protect my strawberries from insect pests and birds, I grow mine indoors. However, once the seedlings have grown large enough that you can carefully handle them without easily causing damage, you may transplant your strawberry seedlings into the outdoors (or simply into a larger pot to keep indoors). But it is highly recommended to "harden off" the plants if you intend to transplant them outdoors - which means for the week or 10 days prior to actually planting, to expose the seedlings to gradually increasing amounts of outdoor weather. A simple way to do this is to place the seedlings in a shaded wind protected area outdoors during the day, for a little while longer each day, and bringing them indoors at night time.
You can plant the seedlings with their biodegradable toilet paper roll pots directly into a bigger pot or into the ground outside. I recommend breaking or tearing apart the pot slightly though, but do take care to not hurt the seedlings when doing this.
When growing strawberries from seeds, the plant usually creates a crop of strawberries the following year. First the flowers will be produced, which then finally turn into strawberries. Patience is key! Note that seeds from strawberries bought from the supermarket will likely not grow into identical copies of the original strawberries, but this is all part of the surprise! A big tip is to pinch off the flowers (that eventually become strawberries) in the first year - this will allow the plant to become stronger and result in a significantly increased crop of strawberries in the following year. If you have planted your strawberries outdoors, consider using some kind of netting or mesh to protect your precious plants from birds or other pests that will want to eat your strawberries. I hope you've enjoyed this experiment in self sufficiency!
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