Introduction: Organic Strawberry Growing (to the Core!)
Introduction – The answer to our problems is sandbags let me explain why....
If like me you are joining the organic growing revolution you may find yourself asking what can I use as a cheap organic container to grow my strawberries (or other plants) in. Especially if you don’t have access to a garden with useable soil.
There is lots of research suggesting chemicals from plastics can leach into their surroundings, aluminium foil (kitchen foil) would have a similar issue with aluminium particles entering the soil.
Clay and pottery would be excellent choice but are very pricey and on the heavy side.
Introducing Hessian sandbags (or other bags), made from plant fibres and produced in large quantities, light and affordability second to only cotton. So it ticks all the boxes, organic, cheap, easily obtained, light, easily to store and transport.
So now you know why I am using hessian sandbags, I will show you how I use them. So you can use them too!
Hessian sandbags (1 Hessian sandbag to 1 Strawberry rootling)
Strawberry rootling (1 Strawberry rootling to 1 Hessian sandbag)
Glass bottle 70cl (Used for watering, if you got a bigger one even better)
Organic compost 2kg will be sufficient (4 Hessian Sandbags)
Greenhouse (I prefer a controlled environment for my plants)
Gloves (Still end up getting hands dirty even with gloves)
Second pair of hands (makes loading the hessian bags easier)
Step 1: Step 1 Lets Fill Our Bags
i) Cut open your organic compost (if you haven’t already) to about a quarter into the bag, this will create a spout to help with pouring
ii) Open up your hessian sack (if you have a extra pair of hands get them to hold it open) pour the organic compost into the sack until it has a depth of at least 12 inches (I will explain later). If you don’t have a second pair of hands I would manually fill it by hand as pouring can lead to spills. Alternatively if you happen to have cylinder (bucket, pot) that you can line with the hessian sack you can pour with ease and without that second pair of hands.
iii) Check with a tape measure
iv) Repeat parts ii-iii until you have filled all the hessian sandbags you want to use.
Step 2: Step 2 Time for a Drink (Not for You for the Plants)
i) Fill up your bottle with water and then pour on the soil in one of the hessian sandbag then fill half way pour on to the soil of the same sandbag. The soil should be moist but not water logged, keep adding half bottles until the soil looks well watered. Don’t worry the hessian bags have excellent drainage so you would have to get really carried away to water log them.
!Shortcut – You could use a hosepipe assuming it’s legal to do so where you are, in which case water all the soil in all the hessian bags until they are moist.
ii) Repeat part i for each Hessian sandbag your using.
Step 3: Step 3 Location, Location and Location
Depending on which strawberry plant variety you have they will either prefer partial shade or sun or doesn’t mind. So if yours prefers sun or shade make sure your location provides that for it.
i) If the sandbags are not in final position you want them, you may want to wait for them to have drained a bit before finally moving them to where your growing will take place. Move the hessian sandbags with their lovely moist soil to your growing position.
ii) Strawberry rootlings often come in a bundle bunched together with a rubber band free them from the rubber band and separate them carefully from each other. You will noticed from the picture that they have very distinct long roots and at the top of roots a crown with a small stem and leaf protruding.
iii) Make a hole in the centre of the soil at the top of each of the sandbags deep enough for the roots to be completely covered.
iv) Carefully place the roots into the hole cover the roots but make sure the crown is not covered and is sitting (proudly) on the surface, One strawberry rootling per hessian sandbag (See pictures).
The reason why you want at least 12 inches of growing depth and ideally at least 8 inches diameter is because strawberries have a very shallow root system majority of the roots will be within that area beneath the soil. Giving the plant adequate root space gives it better opportunity to uptake nutrients from the soil. Strawberries reproduce by runner as well as seeds so if you were to plant them in the ground they would spread via that underground root system.
Step 4: Step 4- Growing
If you got them outside and they are in a good spot and get enough rain to keep soil moist, just keep an eye on them from time to time.
If it is particular hot or dry make sure that soil is moist. Remember look after your plants and they will return the favour with fruit.
Now all is left to do is keep them alive and harvest the strawberries and enjoy watching them grow.
I have put mine in the greenhouse as I am fan of controlled growing environment.