Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Contain Mint and Strawberries

I just received a question from one of my readers about controlling Mint and Strawberry plants. This short article should give you some ideas to get you started.

For mint, since we usually don't use more than what can grow in a square foot of space or less; find an old deep cooking pot. Something like you might use to can pickles and tomatoes. A waterbath container. This should be about about a foot deep. If it doesn't already have holes in the bottom, put several holes at least a quarter inch in diameter. Fill it with good loose garden soil. Half Compost/Half soil is good. Or just potting soil. You could also mix half and half soil and old rotted leaves (black - leafmold). With these mixes, fill the container nearly full. Gently firm the soil down. Fill it again. You should leave a few inches at the top for watering.

Place the container of soil in an appropriately sized hole. Leave about 4 inches sticking out. Put a few mints in and water down. From here on, just trim the trailers as they climb out of the container. Keep them from reinserting themselves outside the container. You have them under control.

If you are not burying the pot in the ground, say setting it on a patio or maybe hanging it up, you will have to water it at least twice as much. Partial shade or Morning and late Afternoon shade should keep the mints from burning up if they are adequately watered.

Strawberries need a similar barrier but a lot more area. Say 10 by 10 feet. This area can be formed by setting up bricks on end in various border like designs. Like the mint, trim off the runners as they try to escape. I have heard of using a barrier of concrete blocks - filled in with a light sandy soil with good drainage. You could use old 2x6, 8, 10, 12 lumber to enclose the strawberries. This can get very expensive if you use Cedar or even Redwood - which can cost a small fortune! 

Some people buy an old fashioned "Washtub". These make nice containers for a small amounts of strawberry plants.

Last of all, you could use old tires up to the size of Tractor tires. However, don't use New tires. The fumes they give off on a hot day are not good for food! Get something several years old and your probably pretty safe. Another thing you might try is a kiddy pool. If they are buried in the ground they might better withstand our winters and the suns UV causing the plastic to deteriorate. Don't expect over one or two seasons of use from these.

Hope this primes the pump and gets your creative juices working. And don't forget to let me know when the strawberries are ready....

Cheers - Bob

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