Violets and Strawberries



For months I’ve seen photos circulating on the web of strawberries grown in gutters.  The plants always look lush and the berries are huge and plentiful.  So of course I decided that we should grow strawberries in gutters.  Of course we should.  Over the weekend Jonny attached fifty feet of gutters to our garden fence and drilled drainage holes in them.  (He mentioned as he finished up, that this project was not on his list.)  Yesterday I planted fifty strawberry plants in a mixture of well rotted compost and horse manure in the gutters.  Planting was quick and easy because I did it standing up.  The gutters are right at arm level for me.  I watered the plants once I was finished and then added a layer of old chicken bedding as a mulch on top.

Despite all of our work, I’m pretty sure that growing strawberries in gutters is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had.  Only time will tell.  I think that most of those photos I saw of strawberries looking so great in their neat gutter homes were taken in greenhouses with very controlled conditions.  Other people who try this set them up to be self watering.  I’ll be the one watering these strawberries by hand, every day I am sure.  Hopefully once per day will be enough.  In the heat of summer though, it may not be.  At least I have kids to help.

So we’ve gone from “too cold to garden” to “so hot I’m totally behind and will never catch up I haven’t even planted English peas yet.”  Ah, Virginia.  We never know what to expect.

Most importantly of all, the violets are blooming.


  1. Can you please explain this concept of “too hot”? Because up here it’s still snowing!!! (Arg!)

  2. Ginny!! You are sitting on a salad treasure trove!! Did you know that violet leaves are edible and delicious in salad. Of course everyone knows the flowers are edible and you could totally make a years supply of violet jam, syrup etc but don’t over look the leaves. That is the only reason I grow them (well, actually, they grow themselves ; )

  3. love all the violets!!!!!!

  4. Diana Smith says:

    I fell for the strawberries in gutters in my greenhouse hype…mine look awful. At the same time I planted this everbearers I planted 50 June bearers in the garden and they all look great. It seemed a good idea. Mine were planted in quality potting soil with a bit of homemade compost –same stuff I use for all my plants. …so I pulled them all out and put them in an outdoor bed before they totally croaked!! What a waste of time.

    • My plan is to move them all into the ground next spring if we haven’t moved, because I just don’t see this working. We’re still sort of hoping to move in the next year though, and if my strawberries are in gutters I can bring them with us!

  5. Oh I long to see violets again!

    Strawberries in gutters sounds like a good idea (I’ve seen it done for salad). I would’ve wondered if they were deep enough – off to have a look at this, thank you 🙂

  6. Those violets are so pretty. I love how great they look in the antique bottles. I always want to pick wildflowers like violets and bring them in, but I never know what to put them in. I’ll have to start watching for some little bottles.

  7. I adore the beautiful posies of violets in such pretty glass bottles – good luck with the strawberries x

  8. Just commenting on the pictures… you have a knack for making everything look pretty! +JMJ+

  9. Yeah, I have a lot of ideas like that. My husband refers to these ideas as “salad spinners”. I was once convinced I needed a salad spinner and promptly went out and bought one. I used it once and then it just sat there. So now when I have these ideas that just have to happen my husband calls them “salad spinners”.

    Crossing my fingers for your strawberries! (And send some warmth to Vermont, please?)

    • Ah, if those ideas were called “salad spinners” in our household, they’d all be winners because I love my salad spinner. It’s all relative, I guess.

  10. At least you have a garden to work in! Here in Colorado it was in the upper 60’s yesterday and by this morning it was 20 degrees and snowing. I haven’t even touched the garden yet. I love the little glass jars the violets are in. Beautiful!

  11. Oh I do hope your strawberries work out for you! And those violets make me wistful for spring here in Michigan. I think it might actually be here. We had a thunderstorm today and the crocuses and daffodils are blooming. They are predicting a rain/snow mix on Thurs, but it will be above freezing so nothing will ‘stick’ *yay!*

  12. Nancy M says:

    Oh these little jars of violets are so precious. I enjoy spring so much! Thanks for sharing!!!

  13. I hope it works out for you! That would be so nice if you could pick the strawberries at arm’s level, instead of having to bend down!

    Those violets are gorgeous!

  14. How nice to see flowers blooming, here in Michigan snow has finally melted only to see mud and gray skies. Maybe by June we will see the trees start to bud.

  15. Don’t stress, enjoy what you do.

  16. We did the “too cold to garden” to “so hot and I’m totally behind” here in TN as well! Now we’re scrambling to get everything in and ready. Hard to do when your husband’s day job is not yet only tending to the homestead. Someday, hopefully. I love all the violets! So pretty in the little bottles 🙂

  17. Ginny, get a soaker hose and run it down the side of your gutter , turn on in the mornings and leave until the soil is completely moist. You should only have to do this once a day to keep the plants hydrated and it will save you a lot of time with watering. In the middle of summer you can cover the gutters with a shade cloth to help protect them from the sun.

  18. Lee Ann says:

    Strawberries can be pretty tough. Not saying you’ll get a huge yield, but it’s their first year anyway. They will probably grow though. You will probably have to water everday in summer once they get bigger. Mine are in window boxes on our patio. they had been placed in the garage for hurricane sandy, and survived the winter without much light and no water, but look good after two weeks outdoors. like i said pretty tough.

  19. Beautiful flowers! We just finished up our garden planting here in Northern VA! This weather is such a roller coaster ride.

  20. Violets and strawberries make me think of very special chocolate creams! There is something so beautiful about violets and I love the way you have displayed them in the little bottles.

  21. Ah, I’ve had my strawberry challenges and looked at many options. At first I had them planted in an old clawfoot bathtub found on our property (which was a bear to move and fill with soil). I kept them there for a few years, but they never did really well (too hot, I think). Strawberry barrels or specialized pots were too expensive. I transplanted my plants to a long row at the edge of our small orchard, but it was very labor intensive to keep out the weeds (and strawberries are good at hiding among weeds, but not from gophers). I’ve seen those gutter strawberries (and PVC strawberries) and was thinking about doing something like it, but I realized they would dry out quickly without a (complicated) watering system. My latest scheme involved building a dirt berm around one of the flower/herb gardens and planting the berries in the berm. Hopefully, they’ll be sure to get plenty of water and company. Maybe I’ll finally get a few strawberries this year.

  22. I have often considered growing lettuce in gutters because the rabbits eat any yummy young shoots that come up in the garden. I’d grow peas and beans in gutters if I could stake them. The strawberries are in the garden and the chipmunks eat the ripe strawberries. They take one bite — just enough to ruin it.

  23. Strawberries in the gutter! how interesting. I have never come across this before. I will mention it to my father in law who is my gardening guru. The gutters don’t look very deep, I guess strawberries must have shallow roots or ones that grow outwards? I was thinking of putting mine in hanging baskets to stop the slugs getting at them, but I would imagine gutters also would be a very slug free system – it would be like trying to slither over an over-hanging cliff – that would be some ‘extreme’ slug!
    Snowed here again today, gardening plans still on hold!

  24. Virginia, how I love thee, but not the spring weather! We never have a gradual warming, do we? Roasting up here in Manassas.

    I love the violets. My boys are filling the little vases with grape hyacinths which are growing wildly in our yard. That has been one of my best ideas — a little cabinet full of small vases for little hands. I feel very Montessori-proud when they make use of the “flower arranging” at home.

  25. Love to look at your photos, the little purple violets are so pretty!

  26. Oh- that sounds like Texas weather too. I love your gutters! Wouldn’t it be fun to put those invasive herbs, like mint and thyme, in gutters like that?! And I’m smitten with all of your violets! I wish I had so many in my yard! I would make violet jam!

  27. Love these sweet pics of the tiny violets in the tiny bottles. Little touches of beauty all over the house!

  28. Your photos are just gorgeous! Good luck with those strawberries. I’ve learned that anything grown here in a container needs to be watered….all the time.
    I’m still waiting to see something green here. It finally rained last night but there are still some patches of snow around.

  29. Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised, but I feel like you just never know when it comes to strawberries. You’re not kidding about the weather here though! It’s hard to believe that it was 22 degrees a few mornings only a week or so ago, and yesterday it was in the high 70’s. Maybe we ought to start planning on only having 2 seasons from now on! 😀

  30. Thanks for the tip. When I saw that I thought for sure I’d do it too. Here in good old Saskatchewan it is -23C this morning with the wind chill and we are to get about 30cm of snow this weekend. Just add it to the pile. Our winter snow has barely started to melt at all. Sigh. Very unusual for us here. Your violets look lovely.

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