Construction notes for strawberry pallets

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I’ve tried growing strawberries in many different ways – raised beds, down a slope, in hillocks in a fenced “strawberry annex” – all with very little success.  I’m not sure what the problem is – slugs, rot, those annoying ground squirrels that pick the green strawberries and then leave them mounded up in little piles (ugh!)  Whatever it is, my production is lousy and my actual harvest is even worse.  So, back to the drawing board – I’m trying vertical pallets this year.

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First, we stapled a double width of landscape cloth to the inside of the pallet, stapling along the top and bottom and several times along each interior board.

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Next, we stapled landscape plastic to the outside of the pallet, along the top, bottom, and both sides.  We wrapped the plastic around the bottom open end (no need to do this to the sides, because they were already closed up with the side boards), but left the top open.

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After standing the pallets up vertically, we carefully filled them with dirt (this had to be done by hand, because the opening was so narrow that a shovel just dumped dirt everywhere!)  We used scissors to cut slits in the landscape fabric, through which we poked the strawberry roots.  The slits were approx 1-2″ long – big enough to fit the roots into, but not so big that the soil would fall through.

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I placed the pallets facing east, so they get good morning sun, but avoid the hottest afternoon sun.  I’ll have to water them by hand, but it’s easy enough – either just spray them down, or water them through the top openings.  I’m hoping that by growing them vertically, I protect the berries from rotting on the ground or getting eaten by slugs, and by growing them so close to the house and driveway, I discourage the squirrels and other raiders.

One thing I’m not sure of – how to handle rotating the strawberry plants.  I believe that you are supposed to have new plants every two years.  Typically, these are generated from the runners, which plant themselves, then you can rip out the old plants.  That obviously won’t work here, though.  Will I have to pull out the old plants one by one and stick their runners in the openings?  This makes sense to me – I guess I’ll wait and see how the plants develop.

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