Strawberry Planting in Rain Gutters

 We’ve have grown strawberries in our gardens going for five seasons now, and we have thoroughly enjoyed it!
While strawberry plants generally comes back and produce for 3-4 years before they are done, we managed to squeeze one more year out of ours. This year however, it was truly time to start over. And so, we decided to really change things up and start anew, by planting and growing our new strawberry plants in rain gutters. We’ll be sharing with you this fun gardening experiment and the progress of it all, with any of it’s failures or successes, as we go along here. We know we can always make improvements if need be, as we learn. Meanwhile, we enjoy the process so much. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
This is the first post on our strawberry plantings in rain gutters, and we’re starting with the construction and set up of it.

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But before we dig into our new strawberry growing system, why don’t we briefly review our past strawberry growing years, of which we learned much and had much success with.  We’ve have many blog posts on our strawberries over the past years, but not everyone has been following us for that long. So allow me to mention the highlights, with links to the original posts where there is more info, since could be interesting or helpful information for someone.
If you’re just interested in getting right to the rain gutter method, just skip right down to that sub-headline.

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Our Strawberry Growing History and Links to Those Past Posts

When we built our new strawberry bed in 2009, with new plantings in it, it wasn’t 24 hours before we realized squirrels and birds were going to be a problem!
So that very first morning, Michael whipped us up a solution with his carpentry skills, that has served us quite well, protecting our strawberries from winged and furry creatures, every year since.
There was some real excitement over our first picked strawberry.
We grew some really nice sized berries in time, found out how helpful using some mulch was, and how to battle ants, all discussed in the post here.
We shared many of our lessons learned while growing strawberries.
And we certainly enjoyed our delicious berries, having many-a-strawberry shortcake, learning to make and can jam, and other treats such as Strawberry and Chocolate Nachos, and this beautiful Berry Parfait.

All of those links above open in a new window, so feel free to bookmark or pin them on your interest boards for later.

Anyway, while we got a great crop of berries every year, our 4th year was probably the most abundant, and so we thought maybe we could get one more year out of them. And also, we knew it would be soon time to replace all of our garden beds, but we hoped to get one more year out of them as well. So we went for a fifth year, which was less productive, and confirmed to us that it was time to start over with some new baby starter plants.

Strawberry Planting in Rain Gutters

Which brings us to this season.
As I’ve mentioned, our garden beds were needing replacing.  Last season, we had some wood rot and termite problems insome of them, but we got through one more season with them, and they served their purpose and got us through one more year. But this past brutal winter really gave them the last kick in the pants, and they literally just started falling apart as spring broke.  That’s including our strawberry bed. But since it was time to start again with new strawberry plantings anyway, the timing was perfect to start everything all over from scratch.

So we got planning all of our new garden beds, and already have them built.  We’ll be sharing the rest with you in another upcoming post.
But for the strawberry growing, we decided to try using rain gutters!

sg_ I had seen this photo somewhere, and I was instantly intrigued.  I believe another Facebook Page shared it, and then I shared it to our Facebook Page.  Many of us got talking about it, and we trying to figure out the construction of it, how high they were, and how they were protected from birds and such, if at all.
All I knew was I really wanted to try something like it.

I showed Michael, and he liked the idea too. But he got drawing on paper (as he always does, if you’ve noticed with our projects over the years), and had his own tweeks.  While I always have ideas of my own, and we collaborate a lot, I trust him in the final decisions where the construction goes. 

001_strawberry-planting-in-rain-gutters Here’s what he came up with. 
Using 4×4′ pressure treated posts, he cut them into 6 ft. and 4 ft. pieces, constructing 3 T structures, all screwed together.
They support four 10 ft. sections of aluminum rain gutters, with end caps, which were bought separately.
They are screwed securely onto the horizontal posts.
I just imagined them higher, even though I knew it would be difficult to tend to the plants. But he thinks more height isn’t necessary. So we’ll see there if it is is better in the long run, to make them higher. But right now, I’m glad I can just stand there at them, and do my gardening thing.

002 I planted a good many of our new plantings, but the sun was hit this day, and it was getting to me. So a couple of my helpers (also known as our kids) happily agreed to help finish getting them all done.

003_strawberry-planting-in-rain-gutters Although as I planted, I was wondering if the gutters were quite deep enough, having to plant right to the bottom, they seem to be doing all right!
As evidenced by home much we have seen them grow day to day, and by that little white bloom you see in the photo above. Which by the way, I cut off. Reason being, I really want to be sure the plants roots are well established, before the plant starts producing berries. So I usually remove the first flowers of every season, before I let them go ahead and produce berries.

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You can see they are thriving, and I am really excited to see how they grow, flow over, and produce.
The varieties we chose this year are compact plants. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

005_strawberry-planting-in-rain-gutters Michael drilled holes in the gutter towards the bottom, every 1-1/2′ or so, for proper drainage.

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In the past in our strawberry bed, we grew berries of the June-bearing and Ever-bearing variety. In time we decided we just preferred the June-bearing, so we ripped out all of the Ever-bearing.

This time, considering we are growing them in rain gutters, we decided to try more compact plants.
These will produce few, if any, runners.  So I’m not sure quite what to expect, in terms of spreading or filling in the gutters.  But it’ll be fun to find out!
I did put all of the plants in with the upper part of the biodegradable cup intact, so it may be awhile before we really see them go anywhere.

None the less, I’ve done some research, and I expect we’ll be quite pleased with the varieties we chose.  Both are ever bearing varieties though, which should give us berries throughout the season. But I’m a tad nervous only because it was the ever-bearing we had decided we were less happy with in the beds.  But we’ll see how they do in the rain gutters!

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The Lorans produce the typical white bloom, and should give us rounder, plump, juicy berries.

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The Tristans are a little more unusual. They actually produce dark pink blooms, and the berries are an off shape as well. They are a bit elongated, and kind of pointy. But I’ve heard they too are delicious!
I can’t afford to have any more outlinks in this post, as I’m already afraid it’s going to go to the spam folders of our subscribers. But if you are interested, do Google for more info on these 2 strawberry varieties. BonniePlants(dot)com looked like a great resource. Then use the search tool there.

We had impulsively picked up a couple of herb plants too. Which is new territory for us.
Since we had a little room left in the gutters, and no other plans for the herb plants yet, we stuck them in the gutters too.
I’m not sure how well they will do there, but we can always dig them out and replant them elsewhere.

009 So we’ve got some Parsley……

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……as well as some Oregano. (Which will be delicious, on Michael’s pizza.)

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So that’s concludes where we are at with our new experiment, of growing strawberry plants in rain gutters.
BUT, it’s not quite done!
As soon as we start letting the plants produce berries, we’ll have the next step to contend with:
UP NEXT on this topic:  Protecting them from birds, squirrels, and the like.
We do have a plan for that of course!  And we’re ready to go!
Be sure you are following us so you don’t miss that, the reveal of our other new garden beds, or the building of our chicken coop!
(SO excited to finally be getting chickens!)
Thanks for your visits!  Share your thoughts  or questions with us, if you’ve got some!  We always try to respond.

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Comments

  1. Lisa says

    HI guys talking to Kenny and going to try growing. Not sure how in ground or not but didn’t realize so many chemicals in strawberries in stores. Yuk !!! Thanks for the info really !!

  2. Kris says

    Is there an update as to how the strawberries have done in the rain gutter? I have been thinking to do this as well but not to sure about the depth for the roots to grow in.

    • says

      Hi Kris –
      Great question! It’s a little early to say at this point. We will better be able to tell, when we can see how they got through their first winter, and how their production is in their second year of growth > because the first year after being planted, they are really just getting established. We expect much more production of berries, come warm weather again.
      In terms of the depth, the roots just grow more sideways, leaving room between the plants, rather then deep. On the same note, the soil definitely dries out much faster!

      All that said, I have to say I kind of miss my strawberry bed…like our other gardens. Trying to keep the gutters protected from little creatures, and getting in their to tend to them properly, has been kind of cumbersome.

      Hope this helps with your decision.
      – Laura / House of Joyful Noise blog

    • says

      Hi Linda; To be honest, on the hottest of days, keeping the soil moist in these gutters, has proven to be a challenge. We are anxious to see how well the plants come back in the spring as well, after this first winter; and it was a brutal one. We are hoping for the best!
      Thanks for the visit and the question.
      Laura / House of Joyful Noise blog
      P.S. Please follow our Facebook Page, for updates!

  3. Matt says

    Any update on how well they’ve survived the winter? I’m curious, with the gutters frozen solid if they roots survived. Did you cover the gutters over the winter or leave them open to the elements?

    • says

      Hi Matt! We don’t know quite yet, but we will soon! Yes, we did have them covered with straw through the winter, for some protection from the snow and frost. We didn’t want to remove it until at least 2 weeks after the last expected frost – which was April 15 so….2 weeks out from that. We’ll uncover them then, and when/if we see plants coming up, I’ll try to remember to let you know right there under this reply. If I seemed to have forgotten, just pop in and remind me.

      Laura / House of Joyful Noise blog

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