Strawberry wicking buckets

I wrote about how I made these in this post.

They’ve been in service now for two growing seasons. This season (spring/summer) they’ve been producing so many strawberries, I was amazed. Fresh strawberries every morning on my mueslii was almost too much for anyone to bear (I bore it well, though).

But the plants were originally planted into semi-rotted chook poo compost. In two years it had fully broken down and the mix had sunk in the buckets, so that the growth points were a good 10 cm below the rim of the bucket. They needed topping up with new compost but to do that would have meant burying the growth points which could have caused the whole plant to rot.

So the only thing to do was to lift the whole plant out of the bucket, add new mix to the bottom of the bucket, then put the plant back. Normally they die back in winter, which would have been the best time to do it. They’re still producing plenty of fruit anyway, but one wasn’t, and being impatient, I decided to do just that one. What I was keen to see was the root system and whether it had grown right down into the permanently boggy area below the drainage hole, or whether the only healthy roots were in the area above the drainage hole. In a wicking bed system you can’t see what’s going on below the ground. Are the roots happily growing in the wet soil or are they shying away from it and only growing in the top section where it’s just damp?

I let the bucket get as dry as I dared so the plant and its root ball wouldn’t be so heavy to juggle and tipped/pulled it out carefully. In the photo of bucket next to plant you can see how far down the plant had sunk and the location of the drainage hole in the bucket. Below that level are healthy, white roots. That was satisfying to see. Strawberry roots at least, will  grow in saturated soil :

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I put fresh compost into the bottom of the bucket and tamped it down well with another bucket. I wanted to compact it so that when it rotted there wouldn’t be so big a drop in level. Of course when I put the plant back, there was a gap of a couple of centimetres all around the top, which I filled in with some friable potting mix.

All done. Ready for another couple of seasons of strawberry production :

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I won’t feed this plant again till next spring when it will get a small handful of Dynamic Lifter and some seaweed fertiliser. The new compost in the bottom may even promote some more flowers before then.

The thing I really love about wicking buckets is that they’re so easy to move around. Just pick them up by the handle. The ideal thing to give someone for a Christmas present—a bucket laden with ripe strawberries cascading over the edge. And if you really want to be stylish you can colour co-ordinate bucket colour with strawberry colour. I went for utilitarian black because I’m not stylish (it does warm up early in spring though).

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4 Responses to “Strawberry wicking buckets”

  1. narf77 Says:

    Excellent share Bev. As we are completely redesigning Sanctuary now, We are going to dig out the strawberry wicking boat and turn it around as it has sunk into the ground a bit and now part of the boat is getting too much water and the other part isn’t getting enough. If we turn it sideways and run along the length of the slope width-wise, we should only have to prop up one side of the boat and this problem should be eliminated. Thank you so much for your constant sharing here. I get so much out of what you share and I am sure that there are many others who do as well. You deserve those delicious red orbs on your morning cereal 🙂

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  2. Bek Says:

    Awesome job. I’ve found a lot of my wicking buckets soil level has dropped too, so good to see a top up from below is easy.

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  3. Pam Goetting Says:

    Hi!

    Boy, do I like this idea! We have a TERRIBLE time growing strawberries, for numerous reasons. I think that this would give us a lot more control over the situation. Thanks!

    Pam

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Pam, glad you liked the idea. I forgot to mention that since the strawberries usually hang over the side of the buckets, there’s no problem with things eating them, as there would be if they were lying on the ground. Well…birds can be a problem I suppose, but the buckets can be easily netted.

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