If you're replacing your seamless gutters this year, you may be wondering what you can do with the old ones. By replacing them early in the spring, you can clean out the old ones and put them to use as strawberry beds. Strawberries are shallow-rooting plants, so they don't need very deep planters to thrive. This makes them ideal for growing in recycled gutters. Not only can you mount them to deck rails for elevated growth, but it also gives you the versatility to bring the plants indoors if needed during cold snaps. Here's a look at how to get your rain gutter strawberry garden started.
Prepare the Gutters
Once you have taken the old gutters down, the first thing you'll need to do is clean them thoroughly. Use a mild detergent and water so that there's no residue in the gutter afterward. Then, cut the gutters into pieces that are manageable. If you have metal gutters, use tin snips to cut them down. For PVC or similar material, you'll want to use a circular saw. You may find that pieces between four and five feet long are the easiest to work with.
Cap both ends of the gutters, and then crimp the edges of the caps to the gutters. Apply silicone caulk inside the seam of the end cap to prevent any leaks. Once the silicone has dried, you can prepare the drainage holes. To do this, turn the gutter section upside down, then mark drainage holes every four or five inches along the length of the gutter. Drill holes with a small drill bit, such as a quarter-inch bit.
Plant Your Strawberries
You'll want to make sure that your strawberry plants are evenly spaced out to ensure space for the roots to thrive. Starting a few inches in from the end of the gutter, place a mark on the gutter edge every two feet. This provides you with adequate spacing for the plants to grow without suffocating the roots.
Place the gutter structures in a space where the plants will receive full sun for at least six hours every day. Then, you'll want to place them where they are slightly elevated. Stack bricks or pavers under the ends of the gutters to keep the drain holes elevated. This ensures that the soil can drain. Strawberry roots will drown otherwise.
Fill the gutter to just beneath the lip with potting soil. Plant the strawberries where you had marked on the gutters so that you can be confident that they are properly spaced. In most cases, you'll want to plant them in the early spring. If you live in an area with mild winters, you could plant them in the fall.
Leave the crown of the plant just above the soil surface. If you put the crown beneath the soil, it may rot and kill the plant. Make sure that the roots are sitting thoroughly beneath the soil surface, though. If they're too shallow, they'll dry out. When you're planting them in recycled gutters, this needs particular attention, because you're limited on your planting depth.
Nurture the Plants for Growth
Water the plants regularly so that they receive an inch to two inches of water each week. If you plant June-bearing plants, you'll need to apply fertilizer when the plants start to grow and again when the fruit production starts. For ever-bearing plants, you can apply a light fertilizer application every few weeks. The drainage holes drilled in the gutters will help you regulate soil saturation.
Regulating Plant Expansion
When you're planting in gutter systems, it's important to be attentive to the blossoms early so that the plants don't start running, or spreading out across the gutters. Strawberry plants reproduce very rapidly if you don't trim runners. If you've never seen runners, they are the small shoots that run from plant to plant, connecting them to help encourage the plant to spread. Trim them away so that you don't overrun your gutters.
If you're growing June-bearing plants, you'll want to pinch off the flower blossoms as soon as they appear during the first year. This allows the plant to fully develop in the first year so that you get full fruit production in the years to follow. If you want to harvest fruit in the first year, don't pinch the blossoms. But, understand that allowing it to bear fruit in the first year will restrict its growth and fruit production in later years.
Ever-bearing plants will need attention through the end of June to keep blossoms at bay. Pinch all the flower blossoms until the beginning of July, then you can allow the plants to flower and produce fruit.
When it comes to old gutter systems, there's no need to throw them away when you're replacing them. As you can see here, you can turn your old gutters into thriving gardens with a little bit of preparation.Share