Vertical Gardening: Build a Strawberry Barrel

Build a strawberry barrel and grow 20 plants in the space of one with a mini high rise. Maximize your strawberry growing space by converting a barrel into a vertical garden.


| June/July 1996



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The keg halves lack the self-supporting integrity of a whole bent-stave barrel, so red oak (or other hardwood) cleats are installed with stainless screws to each half. The barrel is then placed on a small foundation of crushed rocks or brick. This not only provides a sure footing but will keep the bottom wood dry and rot free.


ILLUSTRATION: BELLA HOLLINGWORTH

Build a strawberry barrel into a vertical strawberry pot holding 20 plants for a bigger strawberry harvest. 

Vertical Gardening: Build a Strawberry Barrel

Ah, strawberries ... sweet, juicy, fragrant first fruit of the year. Ice cream's irreplaceable sidecar, and arguably the world's best snack. Oh yeah, there's also the small matter of pruning, mulch, fertilizing, and waiting a year for the delectable return. Plus, established berry plants produce a network of runners—long spreading stems with a baby plant at each node that can snarl so densely that fruiting is reduced, disease spreads readily and the plot must be raked out every fall and dug under and replanted or moved every two or three years. The road to heaven is paved with work.

How'd you like to have the equivalent of a 25-foot garden row on only four square feet of land, right outside the sunny south door of the house—without the stoop-labor of a berry patch, and with fruit coming on much earlier? This can be done by flanking your front door with a matched pair of old-time strawberry barrels, each hosting 18 or 20 plants on the three or four square feet of land that would ordinarily be occupied by but one or two berry plants.

In a barrel, each plant remains a solitary and can be treated as tenderly as a house plant. Fruit stays off the ground, away from rots and molds, from marauding slugs, bugs, and meadow mice. Air flows freely, so diseases do not spread. And runners are either absent or captured in small plastic pots and the baby plants used to replace failing parent plants in following years.

The Barrel  

First, though, you have to locate a suitable barrel. Iron-bound, wood-slat barrels are no longer used to ship pickles, molasses, nuts, bolts, rum, salt fish, nails, crackers, and more, as they were 100 years ago when every farm had a 40-gallon water barrel under the downspout and 5- to 30 gallon berry barrels at each side of the front porch steps.

tapper
3/20/2014 2:19:44 AM

There are many good ideas from Mother Earth News but I think the whole problem with the descriptive articles is that there are too many words and hardly ever any photos. A picture tells a 1,000 words so use them abundantly. I, like some others here have noted, get lost in 6 pages of bla bla text and I have a garden to attend.


jonalee farris
4/3/2013 6:07:54 PM

I totally agree, it was hard for me to follow as well...not being a carpenter. I was confused about the 'plug'?


michelle littrell
4/1/2013 11:46:28 PM

This seems like a really great idea but the way this article is written is very hard for me to understand. Maybe its just me but I would love to try this idea, I think the wording is just confusing me if anyone has done this before and can explain it better or has pics please let me know!


chad w. beard
7/17/2008 2:11:25 PM

Hi, just wanted to correct you on your article on strawberry barrels. Love the article by the way, but you stated incorrectly that by law the barrels cannot be used to make whiskey again -- on the contrary, they often are used again to make whiskey or scotch. The law states that Kentucky Bourbon must be aged in a new oak barrel. There is a difference between bourbon and whiskey. Thanks.






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