I simply can’t wait for all the berries to turn red to share this with you – a super easy DIY strawberry tower with a built-in reservoir! Bonus: everyone can make this with recycled materials!
Last year we came up with this idea, made one, and it FAILED! Failures = Great Learning right? =)
This year we made some big improvements, it worked so well that we already got strawberries, in February!
I am going to share with you everything we have learned so that you can build a strawberry tower with success, and a big harvest…
Materials and tools:
- 5 gallon plastic nursery pots: they measure about 11″ diameter by 13″h. Find sturdy ones with drain holes on the bottom. If the drain holes are on the side, punch a few holes on the bottom. Buckets will work too!
- a Milwaukee 1.25″ Hole Saw and a drill
- 1 liter plastic water bottle, and a sharp tool to punch holes. Only the top pot needs a reservoir. The bottle should be about the same height as the pot.
- good potting soil, we added 1/3 of worm castings and compost. And strawberry seedlings.
Draw 12 equally spaced holes on the side of each pot like shown in the photo above, and drill the holes with the Milwaukee 1.25″ Hole Saw attached to a drill.
Prepare the reservoir by cutting of the bottom off the water bottle, and poke some holes on the cap and on the sides all the way to the top. Leave the cap screwed on tightly. This will allow the water to seep through all the holes slowly. The design is inspired by the ingenious use of ollas in irrigation.
Place our reservoir in the center of a pot, again, only the top pot in a stack needs a reservoir.
Gradually add soil and strawberry seedlings. Add a layer of rocks or pebbles at the top of the pot to hold the soil in when we water. (One of the reasons we failed last year was soil washing away! More on that at the end.)
Repeat with the lower pots, leaving out the bottle reservoir and the rocks. Now we can stack our strawberry tower together!
We wanted to be able to move the tower in the garden, so we did not have a center pole through the pots for stability. We ended up dividing this tall tower into 2 shorter ones. Still super space saving- 48 plants in less than 2 square feet!
For the first week, leave the tower in dappled shade and water a lot, so the plants can recover from transplant shock. (Something I forgot to do!)
Water with compost tea every few weeks will keep the plants happy. We built this about 1.5 months ago, and now it’s fruiting profusely!
Here are a few tips and lessons we learned from last year’s failure – see above photo =(
- We did not use a reservoir, nor rocks on top, so the soil would get dry quickly, and when we water, the soil was washing away instead of soaking up the water. Add a reservoir and rocks on top has made all the difference.
- The cut holes should be no larger than 1.25″. Otherwise, soil will fall out when watering.
- Rotate the pots every 1-2 weeks so all the plants can get some sun.
- This is a compact growing system. Fill the reservoir with diluted fish emulsion(if you don’t mind the smell), compost tea or worm tea every 1-2 weeks to give the plants some extra nutrients.
- If one of the seedlings don’t make it, wait till the others send out runners, then tuck the runners into those empty spots. They will root very easily.
Happy gardening! And feel free to share ideas for improvements in the comment section!
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