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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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!