strawberry fields for... a year
February 6, 2012 6:57 AM   Subscribe

I want to grow strawberries on my Brooklyn balcony this year. Lots of strawberries, all different sizes and shapes and colors, with as long a productive period as possible (in aggregate). What varieties should I get, and where should I buy them? Should I do anything special besides giving them dirt and water? Are there any other plants that make nice companions to strawberries (esthetically or organically)? The balcony faces west and is partially shaded by trees, but does get a lot of heat and direct sunlight in the summer.
posted by moonmilk to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Are you planning on a strawberry pot? Or a big container? It's fairly hard to get much of a crop in containers, but I had luck with tiny Alpine strawberries in hanging containers.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:53 AM on February 6, 2012

Response by poster: It'll be a mix - I have a lot of small planters and a couple of large ones (maybe 10-15 gallons).
posted by moonmilk at 9:00 AM on February 6, 2012

You may want to try a vertical garden setup like this one to maximize your space.
posted by chrisulonic at 10:10 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have also had great success with Alpine Strawberries. I used to get the seeds at K-Mart, it was a Martha Stewart product of all things.
posted by myselfasme at 11:42 AM on February 6, 2012

Best answer: Nthing Alpine strawberries. They're smaller, but more flavorful. Since you want all kinds of strawberries, you'll probably want some Everbearing and Junebearing kinds, too. I haven't grown any recently, so I'd read descriptions of the varieties and choose the ones that sound best.

Here are three varieties of Alpine strawberry seeds. Here are Alpine, Everbearing, Musk and Junebearing varieties shipped as plants. I've had good experiences with both companies.
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 1:00 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm in Australia, so I'm not sure if the varieties are available, but I heartily recommend Cambridge Rival and Hokowase as varieties you should try if you can. Cambridge Rival is often touted as the sweetest strawberry variety in the world, and mine certainly seem to be. They're so damn sweet it's like eating strawberry candy. Hokowase is not quite as sweet but it is perfumed - you can smell the strawberries from across the room and they are amazing. I actually prefer them as I find the Cambridge Rival too sweet.

These are varieties that aren't grown commercially because the berries are quite small and very fragile. They ripen quickly and can go from not quite ripe to overripe in about 12 hours (particularly Cambridge Rival), but a balcony that you check often would be great. Check with nurseries and plant specialists that deal with Heritage or Heirloom seeds/plants and you'll find no end of weird and wonderful things to grow.

Good luck!
posted by ninazer0 at 3:33 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I used to grow strawberries on my balcony. I had problems with birds eating them until I covered them with netting spread over a sort of wire cage. Also I always had huge problems with aphids and other pests. I never solved that one. Now I have a garden, and grow strawberries with no pest problems, so it's something about container gardening, somehow. YMMV.
posted by lollusc at 5:04 PM on February 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice! I expect squirrels and birds to eat every last strawberry like they devour everything else on my deck, but it's worth a try.
posted by moonmilk at 6:00 PM on February 6, 2012

Response by poster: I'm eating fresh strawberries every day! Only three or four per day, but still. It worked!
posted by moonmilk at 6:46 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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