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URBAN GARDENING: Growing Strawberries and Raspberries in small spaces

by dig the dirt editor

Strawberries from Renee's Garden
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Even the tiniest urban backyard can become a full-fledged fruit factory when you grow strawberry and raspberry plants in your garden. Neither plant requires a lot of space, yet both produce masses of delicious berries that always seem to hit the spot on a warm summer morning. Here's how to grow these reliable favorites.


  • Strawberries are the ideal fruit to include in your kitchen garden plans. They're low maintenance, take up little space, and every year they produce large crops of delicious, juicy berries. Plus, the plants themselves are quite attractive and make an excellent ground cover at the edge of a garden path or flower border. 
  • All strawberries require is a sunny garden spot that receives at least six hours of sunshine a day. They also prefer to grow in rich, well-drained soil.  To eliminate weeding chores and to keep your strawberries healthy, mulch your plants as soon as you get them into the ground.




  • Strawberries are generally divided into two groups: June-bearers and everbearers. 
  • June-bearers produce most of their fruit all at once (usually in June, hence the name). This makes them especially valuable if you want to freeze the fruit or make jam. Good June-bearing varieties include:'Cardinal,' and 'Surecrop,' .' 
  • Everbearers generally bear one large crop in the early summer and then keep bearing right up till frost, often with a slightly heavier fall crop. Everbearing varieties include: 'Ozark Beauty,' 'Tribute,' and 'Tristar.' 
  • If you are a berry lover plant both in the same garden. That way you'll get plenty of fruit when you need it the most.




  • At planting time, dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots of the young strawberry plant. 
  • Set the plant in the hole, so its crown or base sits just above the soil surface. If you plant your strawberries too deep, they may rot; if you plant them too shallow, they may not bear fruit. 
  • Space plants 12 to 15 inches apart. This will leave enough room for the plants to develop runners (baby plants attached to the parent strawberry). 
  • Let each plant develop a few runners over the course of the summer, but don't allow the area to become totally matted with baby plants. 
  • Remove extra runners with a pair of scissors. The baby plants will grow and develop fruit while the mother plants deteriorate over the next year or so.
  • Strawberries can also be used in hanging baskets, window boxes, and strawberry jars (of course). Use a commercial potting mix and water whenever the soil starts to dry out.
  • In cold climates, new strawberry beds require a bit of winter protection. After nightly temperatures regularly drop below 20 degrees F., cover the berries with a protective mulch of straw, evergreen boughs, or leaves. Leave the mulch in place until early spring. Move potted strawberries to an unheated garage where the plants won't be subjected to extremely cold temperatures.







  • Ever see baskets of luscious raspberries at the market and wonder why they're so expensive? Unlike apples and pears, the soft-fruited raspberry doesn't travel well, farms have to charge more for this tender delicacy. Luckily, raspberries are a snap to grow and, with just a dozen or so plants tucked into a garden corner, you can enjoy plenty of tasty fruit without spending a fortune.





  • Like strawberries, raspberries come in two basic types: summer bearing and everbearing. 
  • Summer bearing varieties produce berries on old growth from the previous growing season.  Summer-bearing raspberry varieties include: 'Latham' and 'Heritage.'
  •  Everbearers do the same thing, but they also develop an even bigger crop again in the late summer that develops on new wood from that season. Everbearers include: 'Bristol Black' and 'Fall Gold' (yellow).
  • Here again, it's a good idea to plant both types of raspberries if you want enough to preserve and eat fresh.  





  • Raspberries require a sunny garden spot; they're not too fussy about soil type. 
  • Because raspberry canes have thorns and have a tendency to sprawl, it's a good idea to locate your raspberry patch along a fence or against a wall. Don't plant them too close to a walkway or the canes will be constantly reaching out and "grabbing" you. 
  • To get started, dig a hole larger than the root ball of the plant and set the plant in the hole at the same depth it grew in the nursery (there should be a stain on the plant's stem). Back fill with soil and water thoroughly. 
  • Mulch heavily to keep you from having to pull weeds from in-between the thorny canes.


  •  Raspberries do require annual pruning to keep them in top form. 
  • Make a practice of pruning your plants back every spring and after every harvest. 
  • In the spring, it's best to thin out any canes that are growing too close together (6 inches between each cane is a good rule of thumb) and remove any winter-damaged tips.
  •  If you're growing everbearers, you have two pruning options. Prune the plants as described above and get two harvests (a small one in the spring and a heavier crop in fall), or, prune the plants to the ground in the spring and receive a single, extra large crop of berries in the fall.



Urban Gardening, strawberry plants, Raspberry plants


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marcydiané commented on 06/01/12
Thanks for the pointers! I&#x27;m doing raspberries in a container, myself. :)
Strayer commented on 03/25/11
So cool would love to know how it turns out. How big is the container?
FigTree replied: on 04/02/11
I'm only in my second spring with the plant, which was grown from a cutting, so I haven't made any actual berries yet. It's about a foot and a half across, I suppose, a round pot. It will probably outgrow it in a year or two.
Strayer replied: on 04/02/11
love your simple and concise notes here. All you really need to know!
gabrielle commented on 03/16/11