It wasn’t my idea. Jackie French talks about growing watermelons in boots (haven’t tried that yet), she may also talk about growing strawberries in shoes. I can’t remember. But that’s where the idea came from and ever since I first designed the Stanmore school garden I’ve been keen to put strawberry shoes on the fence.
Fortunately I have a child whose feet grow pretty quick and who manages to destroy his school shoes pretty easily so I’ve got a never ending supply of shoes.
Strawberries propagate by producing runners. Once these mini plants have a root system they can be removed from the ‘mother’ plant and planted elsewhere. In this case, in shoes. I put in the new plants along with a good amount of compost and let them settle in, in the school green house for a few weeks until I felt they were strong enough to be screwed to the fence.
Strawberries can tolerate shade but you may not get the best out of the fruit wise. They also like rich soil and don’t mind a bit of acid in it. Strawberries are prone to virus attack. To avoid this they need to be regularly replanted. Linda Woodrow in her excellent book ‘The Permaculture Home Garden’ outlines her strategy to avoid the virus. She keeps one plant as a stock plant. This plant is not allowed to produce fruit (any flowers are removed) and is used to produce the runners. This then provides her with a constant virus free source of strawberry plants.