A Plethora of Strawberries

Yet another beautiful week in Oregon. Rains have filled up the rain barrels again, which i’ve linked up directly to my newest project, vertical strawberry towers. I LOVE strawberries. I would happily eat them every day, If I could just find a way to grow a large amount of them in a small footprint…I decided to use the west side of my workshop wall to build version 1.0.

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I had seen a couple of pictures on Pinterest demonstrating vertical towers, and decided to make a connected grid of seven that I could fill with individual strawberry plants. Every time someone showed me their strawberries, they always seemed to be battling slugs, bugs, and strawberry runners.

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I used 10 foot sections of 4” corex drain pipe with two small holes (intended for a french drain system) that I used as easy guides to make larger holes. Using a 2 1/2” holesaw bit, I alternated drilling holes in the pipe until I had my system precut, predrilled, and ready for assembly. I used 90 degree elbows and T’s to connect each tower. I used zipties and hooks to attach the top of the grid to the 2x4’s on the workshop’s roof

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After assembly, I went over to my friendly Bi-Mart and got 9 different varietals, for a total of 100 plants. On 4/19, I planted them. Since I knew I would be battling keeping the plants moist enough on these potentially hot summer days to come, I made a mixture of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 blended nitrogen rich garden soil for moisture retention. I started from the bottom large hole, and used a small garden shovel to fill in the bottom of the pipe before I placed my first strawberry. After every plant, I would water settle, and fill in more soil between each one.

Two weeks later, it looks like they’ve all taken. I underestimated how many plants I would need, so I didn’t get to plant the last two towers until the middle of may. Using a pipette, I use the small remaining hole that is adjacent to the strawberry root as a direct access point to fertilize. Using a fairly low dosed 10-10-10 fertilizer, we gave them a little pep in their step to overcome being transplanted.

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Using the rain barrel system that’s right next to the strawberry towers, I connect a 1/3 hp submersible pump to a drip line system threaded above the strawberry towers. I have an adjustable 1-16 gallon per hour nozzle that I have set to about 4 gallons per hour. I generally leave the pump running for about 10 minutes, or until the soil has been fully saturated. When I notice my vermiculite blend drying up a bit, I give them another drink (usually every 2-3 days).

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Here it is, 35 days after planting, and I’ve eaten about 7 delicious strawberries (Honeoye variety). Since I planted both junebearing and everbearing varietals, I look forward to seeing which is my personal favorite, and I plan on making version 2.0 next spring. I just LOVE strawberries. I look forward to sharing these with everyone as they ripen up!

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My love of gardening

This morning when I was out in the garden, I thought “why not share my love of gardening with those that may be interested?”. I am tying this blog into my massage therapy practice because of the importance it holds in my life. If you’d like to read about garden projects and updates, check back here every so often. If you’re not interested, no problem! I’ve had several clients interested in my methods and how they work, so I thought I would provide some information on a larger scale.

When I was involved in a car accident in 2014, my life as I knew it changed. I had to stop riding my motorcycle. I had to stop taking my dogs on hikes. I could barely do the things that I was so used to doing. As my recovery progressed, I wanted to find a new passion that I could pursue in my downtime that didn’t require a lot of strain on my body. I’ve always been a busy body, and being a fine finish carpenter’s son, I grew up learning the skills to create somethings out of nothings. I also grew up on a little more than an acre of property in Tigard, where we had several gardens, kiwi, figs, a plethora of apples and pears as well as a variety of grapes, plums, peaches, cherries, blueberries…it seemed like yard projects were boundless. I loved absolutely every part of it.

When I moved into my home in June of 2011, the yard was a mess. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it. With a little imagination and a will to follow my passions, I started my first garden bed in 2015. Over the last 4 years, a lot has changed, but it’s just been daily 1% improvements. The garden of Kaizen. I don’t intend on making this post a lengthy one, but will include the first day I moved in, followed by a recent picture. Over the following months, I hope to share some how to’s of my self-watering raised garden beds, vertical strawberry towers, water barrel storage, as well as any other projects that may be of interest to others out there.

For anyone that’s interested, i’m an open book. I love to share knowledge with those that seek it, and will help in any way I can, just ask!