GG_strawberries_lede.jpgIn the comments to my column yesterday on growing strawberries and lettuce in a pot, Matt asks:

Do the lettuce leaves and strawberries keep growing in after you harvest them, or do you have to plant new seeds every now and then? And does the soil ever get nutrient-depleted and need changing?

Strawberries are technically a perennial plant and will grow in the same pot for years with steady fertilizing and pruning. For fertilizer I recommend the same product I use for my lemon tree — any granular “citrus and avocado ” fertilizer will have exactly what your strawberry needs year round. Follow the instructions on the box, but I always recommend fertilizing at half to three quarters of what they tell you to to avoid over-fertilizing.

Pruning your strawberries is just as important! My uncle always said “pick them early and pick them often. ” This applies to the leaves as well as the berries, which I admit are very easy to pick. Break any dead or yellowing leaves as soon as you see them and any spent strawberry stems. Your plant should remain clean and neat as it grows. A healthy strawberry plant has lots of big green leaves and big green, soon to be red, berries.

Most lettuce can be continually harvested from the outside leaves in for up to six months. Take the large outside leaves in for a small salad. If you want a big salad every night, well, plant more lettuce!

Don’t put your pot in the full summer sun either as it can easily wilt. Look for a place that gets morning sun and afternoon shade for best results in the summer. When you don’t have any lettuce left growing in your pot I recommend planting a different crop or two to begin a rotation.

Try peas and beans, then carrots or beets before planting lettuce again, and always mix in compost to your existing soil before planting a new crop.

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