I have strawberry plants - lots of them. My strawberry field takes up a significant amount of space, but strawberries are my favorite berry, so there they will stay. Had I had a little foresight, I would probably have been more inclined to build a strawberry tower. Building a vertical strawberry planter would definitely save valuable garden space. In fact, I think I just convinced myself.
Vertical Strawberry Tower Plans
In looking through a dearth of information regarding the building of a vertical strawberry planter, it seems that although an engineering degree might come in handy, some versions of the structure are DIY friendly for the novice architect. The basic gist for planting in vertical strawberry towers is to acquire material that is already tall, such as PVC piping or a 6- to 8-foot (2 to 2.5 m.) wood post, or stacking something, like two upended 5-gallon (19 L.) buckets and then poking some holes in the material to plant the berry starts in.
How to Build a Strawberry Tower from PVC
You will need six feet (2 m.) of 4 inch (10 cm.) PVC schedule-40 pipe when building a vertical strawberry tower with PVC. The easiest way of cutting holes is using a hole saw drill bit. Cut 2 ½ inch (6.5 cm.) holes down one side, 1 foot (30.5 cm.) apart, but leaving the last 12 inches (30.5 cm.) uncut. The last foot (30.5 cm.) will be sunk into the ground. Turn the pipe by a third and cut another row of holes, offset from the first row by 4 inches (10 cm.). Turn the pipe the final third and cut another row of offset cuts as before. The idea here is to alternate the holes around the pipe, creating a spiral. You can paint the PVC if you like, but there is no need, as soon enough the foliage from the growing plants will cover the pipe. At this juncture you really just need to use a pole digger or a whole lot of muscle to dig a nice deep hole to set the pipe into, then fill with soil amended with compost or time-release fertilizer and plant the berry starts.
Building a Vertical Strawberry Tower with Buckets
To build a strawberry tower out of buckets, you will need:
- Two 5-gallon (19 L.) buckets (up to four buckets, if desired)
- 30” x 36” (0.75 x 1 m.) length of lining material (burlap, weed cloth, or garden cover)
- Potting soil mix with compost or time release fertilizer
- 30 strawberry starts
- ¼-inch (6.5 ml.) soaker hose and ¼-inch (6.5 ml.) spaghetti tubing for drip irrigation.
Remove the handles from the buckets with pliers. Measure ½ inch (1.25 cm.) from the bottom of the first bucket and mark this around the bucket using a tape measure as your guide. Do the same thing to the second bucket but mark the line 1 to 1-½ inch up (2.5 to 4 cm.) from the bottom so it will be shorter than the first bucket. Use a hacksaw, and maybe a pair of helping hands to hold the bucket steady, and cut both buckets where you made your marks. This should cut the bottoms out of the buckets. Sand the edges smooth and test to be sure the buckets nest into each other. If not, you may need to sand the shorter down. Once they nest together snugly, take them apart. Make five to six marks 4 inches (10 cm.) apart and stagger the marks so they are scattered along the sides of the buckets. These will be your planting spaces. Don't mark too close to the bottom since the buckets will be nested together. Have someone hold the bucket steady on its side and with a 2-inch (5 cm.) hole bit, drill holes in the sides of the bucket at your marks. Do the same with the second bucket, then sand the edges. Fit the buckets together, place them in a sunny area and line them with your fabric, burlap, garden cover, or what have you. If you plan to use a drip line, now is the time to install it; otherwise, fill the buckets with potting soil amended with 1/3 compost or time-release fertilizer. You may want to use clips or clothespins to hold the fabric in place while you fill with soil. Now you are ready for planting in your vertical strawberry towers.
How to Build a Strawberry Tower with Soda Bottles
Building a strawberry tower using plastic 2-liter (2 qt.) soda bottles is a cheap and sustainable system. Again, you can install a drip line using 10 feet (3 m.) of ¾ inch or 1 inch (2 or 2.5 cm.) hose or irrigation tubing, 4 feet (1.25 m.) of plastic spaghetti tubing, and four irrigation emitters. Otherwise, you need:
- An 8-foot (2.5 m.) tall post (4x4) (10x10 cm.)
- 16 2-liter (0.5 gal.) plastic bottles
- ¾ to 1 inch (2 to 2.5 cm.) screws
- Four 3-gallon (11 L.) pots
- Growing medium
- Spray paint
Cut the bottom of the soda bottles halfway through to create a “lip” from which to hang the bottle and punch a hole through the lip. Paint the bottle to reduce direct sunlight penetration. Set the pole 2 feet (61 cm.) into the ground and pack the soil down around it. Place one screw per side of the pole for each of four levels of bottles. Install irrigation system at this juncture. Tie the bottles onto the screws. Install the spaghetti tubing on top of the pole with one emitter on either side of the pole. Install the one-inch (2.5 cm.) pipe pieces on the necks of each bottle. Place the four 3-gallon (11 L.) pots filled with growing media on the ground. The 3-gallon (11 L.) pots are optional and serve to absorb excess water, fertilizer, and salt so any crops planted in them should tolerate moderate to high salinity. At this point, you are ready to plant the strawberry starts. There are other more complex versions of PVC pipe vertical strawberry tower plans, many of them really neat. However, I am a gardener and not much of a handy woman. If you are or have a partner who is, have a look at some of the interesting ideas on the Internet.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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