A couple Saturdays ago I headed down to Fred Meyer for their Fuchsia Saturday event. Each year, on the first Saturday in April, Fred Meyer gives away free potting soil at this event. Now it’s not just any old potting soil either, it is my favorite brand; BlackGold! This is a pretty popular event, but not something you want to show up early to attend! Last year I got up extra early to try to beat the crowds only to learn that gardeners are an early crowd!! This year I didn’t get there until about 2:00PM. The parking lot was still packed, but the lines were a lot shorter.
I took my time picking out various flowers from the garden center, then did my grocery shopping, and then got in line to get my free potting soil. There was only a handful of people in line ahead of me and I got my potting soil and headed back to my truck in no time.
Truck felt a little out of place in the crowded parking lot. We found a place to park in the very back corner, but it sure was tight!
When I got back home, I gathered my pots, new plants, and old plants together to make a plan. I wanted to put as much as I could in my hanging baskets to avoid letting things sit on the ground in reach of chicken feet and deer muzzles. Macchiato jumped right in to help me out with the spring planting.
I had some old strawberry starts from last year. I had taken these off the mother plants and put them into individual pots to establish themselves before planting. When I was cleaning out the greenhouse this spring, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for these starts and wonder if there was a way I could save them. They really didn’t look very good after sitting in pots all summer and through the winter too. I decided to try!
Grabbing my largest hanging basket, I cut holes in the coco fiber liner all the way around the sides. I would poke one strawberry start out each of these holes and then plant flowers up on top. The strawberries wouldn’t take any extra space in the flower basket. Just making good use of the space I already have.
Now to prepare the plants! Pulling off the dead leaves from each strawberry start was the first step to reviving these little guys and giving them another chance. Once I removed the dead leaves, I carefully removed as much of the old soil from the root ball as I could. They were potted in clay soil mixed with potting soil and they were obviously ready for a new home.
I’ve never had very good success growing strawberries because they love well draining soil. My soil has always been thick clay that compacts on the tender roots and either holds too much moisture in the spring, or won’t soak up water at all during the summer. Well, since I am planting in a container this time, I get to make my own soil conditions! I grabbed a bag of rose sand and mixed it 50/50 with regular potting soil. This made a very crumbly soil texture which I’m confident the strawberries will appreciate. Only trouble is going to be regular watering during the summer months.
Trying to be gentle with the plants, I gathered the leaves together and poked their heads through the holes in the sides of the basket. It’s really important to strawberries to keep their crowns above ground so I tried to be really careful how far I poked them through. I filled the container with my 50/50 sandy soil mixture as I went, allowing the dirt to support the roots of my starts. Once I had them all planted, I cover their roots with the mixture and then topped it off with pure potting soil.
I had a hard time deciding which of my flowers to plant out the top of this basket. It is the biggest basket I have, so I decided my biggest flower needed to grow in this pot. That ended up being my Voltage White Osteospermum. This flower grows up to 15 inches wide so I figure it will have plenty of room to grow here. I also wanted a flower that would spill over the sides of the planter so I stuck one of my wave petunias in this planter as well.
The rest of my planting was easy. Just a matter of grouping tall, short, and spilling plants in an attractive manner for each pot. Once I got them all planted, I set out to find homes for each of them. I hung as many as I could up high to keep them safe from the deer, especially the strawberries. I set the pots that couldn’t hang up about 3 feet off the ground so the chickens can’t get to them at least. I made a bit of a blockade to discourage the deer, but I’m mostly just keeping my fingers crossed that the deer will leave my precious flowers alone!! So far so good. I’m sure it will be more of an issue later in the summer when they don’t have as much to eat.
If you’d like to see exactly how I planted my strawberries, more details on making a sandy soil mixture, and making holes in the coco fiber container lining, watch the YouTube video I made of the process below.