Strawberries can easily be grown in containers, with little variation from garden-plot care. Look for day-neutral varieties when choosing strawberries to grow in containers such as a half barrel. Day-neutrals will produce a smaller fruit than the June-bearers most people know, but they will continue to provide fruit through the entire growing season until frost. Strawberries take patience, as you are unlikely to see any fruit in the first year of growth, but when cared for correctly, the subsequent three or four years can be fruitful ones.
Mix one part sand, one part ground fir-bark mulch to two parts potting soil. Add a water-soluble slow-release fertilizer, if desired. Strawberries grow best in a rich, sandy soil that drains well.
Add drainage holes to the barrel, as needed.
Place the barrel in a full-sun location, away from growing tomatoes. These two plants share many of the same insect pests and diseases, and they can cross-contaminate.
Fill the container with soil mixture, leaving at least 1 or 2 inches of lip at the top.
Plant strawberry seedlings. Follow the instructions on the package for whatever variety you are planting.
Snip off any runners as your plants develop. These are small vines that grow out away from the crown. In a garden bed, these runners form new plants, but in a container with limited space, you run the risk of having the plants choke themselves out of the available nutrients.
Fertilize regularly with a balanced fertilizer and water as needed. Container-grown plants tend to need more water than their bed-grown counterparts.
Lay 1 inch of straw around your plants to help suppress weed growth and retain water.