You can build a strawberry planter from either a new or old wooden barrel or cask. A strawberry planter can be built from just about any material and to any design; however, using a wooden barrel or cask will give it a rustic charm that will sit well anywhere in your garden.
It may well be beyond the realm of most DIY home enthusiasts to actually build the barrel themselves, so you may well end up buying one that you can then make into a strawberry planter. However, if you should live in Milwaukee, or near any brewery/distillery – you might just be able to pick up a barrel in good condition for next to nothing.
Barrel Strawberry Planter
Having removed one of the ends of the barrel thoroughly clean it out and check that the timbers and rings are sound – especially important if you are not using a new barrel. Turn the barrel upside down and drill several ¾ or 1 inch holes in the base to provide good drainage. Use an old chisel or rasp file to clean up the holes.
To allow for the strawberry plants to ‘run’ you’ll want them to grow out of the sides of the barrel as well as on the top of it. Between each pair of metal rings drill 4 or 5 holes around the barrel in a fairly random pattern. The holes should ideally be an oval shape 6 to 8 inches long and 2 to 2½ inches wide.
If you haven’t got a large wood flat-bit or hole saw bit to make big holes to then work with – simply drill a series of small holes in the oval shape, then use a pad saw to make the actual hole. Again tidy up the holes with an old chisel or rasp file, smoothing the outer edges with glass paper.
Stand the barrel on three or four sturdy bricks or flat and even stones, to help excess water drain out of it. Presuming your barrel is at least 3 foot high; to ensure even drainage throughout the barrel, before adding the earth, put a layer of broken pot on the bottom of the barrel followed by a layer of about 6 inches of large stones.
In the middle of the barrel place a rolled piece of garden wire mesh, a tube in effect, this wants to be an inch or two below the top rim of the barrel – fill this with stones too for drainage; then fill the barrel with a mixture of earth and compost.
You can then add the strawberry plants in each whole on the side and say five or six on the top. Give the planter a thorough watering and top up the earth as it settles; then just sit back and wait for the sun to encourage a bumper crop of sweet strawberries for you to enjoy.
Why a Strawberry Planter?
Strawberries grow from runners which, if not properly managed, can take over and ruin your garden. By growing strawberries in a restricted space such as a planter you will be able to prevent them spreading and interfering with other plants. Also, compared to ground grown strawberries, you’ll find that their fruits will start to appear earlier and the plants themselves will last longer, typically for about five years.
Photo by Indigo Goat, Creative Commons License