It’s funny. I write about marketing, social media, business strategy, and productivity a ton. But make one mention of a strawberry tower and the Interwebs light up like a Christmas tree with people wanting to know more. Message received, my friends. Let’s dig into this fun construction project.
First, what is a strawberry tower? Simply put, it’s a vertical strawberry garden. Unlike other strawberry planters, this one’s a DIY project that you make at home with a power drill and some piping. Strawberry towers are useful for keeping strawberry plants off the ground. This helps keep the fruit from rotting and it deeply annoys squirrels who have a hard time climbing pipes.
Here’s what you’ll need to make it.
- 5-foot length of 4″ diameter or greater PVC* pipe
- 5 foot length of 1/2″ diameter or greater PVC pipe
- 1/4″ drill bit
- 2 1/4″ hole saw bit
- Power drill
- Long screwdriver
- Strawberry plants or roots that can fit through a 2″ hole
You start by taking the pipe and drilling holes in it using your power drill and hole saw, as many as you want as long as you can maintain 3-4″ of vertical spacing between holes. In mine, I alternated. Leave enough space at the bottom for the pipe to be partially buried in the ground, about 6-12″.
Be careful. If you’re not good with drills, use a sawhorse or brace or something so the pipe doesn’t roll around. I drilled on the grass for this reason.
You’ll need the screwdriver to pry out the plastic discs after each hole. Do NOT think you can just drill 4 at a time and get the discs out of the hole saw. You won’t.
Once you’ve got the large pipe fully drilled, drill holes through the small pipe at 6″ intervals with the 1/4″ bit. Again, if you’re not good with power drills, put the pipe on something that you can secure it with, lest you drill through something important, like your foot. This small pipe is essential for irrigation.
Once both pipes are prepared, dig a 6-12″ hole in the ground and place the large pipe in it. Pack the soil around the base and dump the remainder in the pipe to stabilize it.
Place the small pipe down the middle of the big pipe and wedge the end slightly into the soil at the bottom to keep it from moving around. About 6″ of the small pipe should be above the top of the big pipe.
Next, alternate placing your strawberry plants and soil in the big pipe (avoiding pouring dirt down the little pipe), while keeping the little pipe centered. Fill the entire pipe with soil and plants.
When you’re done, it should look something like this:
To water, get a funnel and gently pour water down the small pipe. The entire reason for this is that vertical gardens tend to get water unevenly – the top gets lots of water, but the bottom tends to dry out quickly. Having the central irrigation pipe allows you to water evenly without having to flood the upper half and have soil washing out of the holes.
Remember that vertical gardens often become nutrient-poor very quickly. You’ll want to water with a diluted fertilizer frequently in order to keep the soil capable of growth for your plants. Personally, I like Miracle-Gro, which is a very strong 24-8-16 fertilizer. Mix a teaspoon (you don’t need more) with a gallon of water every time you water. If you want to use an organic fertilizer, make sure it’s got a reasonable NPK balance (no 10-0-0 nitrogen only fertilizers), since strawberries need that level of balance.
That’s a strawberry tower! They’re great for maximizing small land spaces, and if you mount it in a deep pot or container, you could even set it up on a deck or patio.
* Some people are concerned about xenoestrogen leakage from PVC piping (mostly due to DEHP in its manufacture). From the reading I’ve done, the strawberry garden should pose a minimal risk, but if you’re absolutely against using PVC pipe, you can use steel, copper, or iron. You will need a serious metal hole saw for that to make the same construction, however.
Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get daily updates now: