above-ground strawberry farm

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 - 11:16pm

Note: If you're reading this and are not yet a member of Peak Prosperity's Agriculture & Permaculture Group, please consider joining it now. It's where our active community of gardening enthusiasts share information, insights and knowledgable daily discussion to help you succeed in growing your own food. Simply go here and click the "Join Today" button.

14 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1878
Awesome! Top view?

Looks like a much better way to grow strawberries than on the ground where bugs, mold etc will be a factor.

Do you have a top view showing what they're planted in? I'd like to try replicating this.

Tycer's picture
Tycer
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 26 2009
Posts: 564
Pretty! Sustainable?

Looks like a lot of water and miracle grow. I'd like to be proven wrong.

On a similar note, a cousin of mine in England has a grape vine with roots outside but the vine runs into the solarium through a 2" PVC. Grapes hanging in October.

treebeard's picture
treebeard
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2010
Posts: 390
Great idea

Slugs, bird and chipmunks get most of our strawberries, looks like this setup avoids most of those problems.  Don't know how you maintain soil fertility in such a setup.  I suppose you need to toss everyhting out every few years and load it up with more soil and compost.  It is definitely a commercial operation. I wouldn't be surprised if there was mucho chemicals used.  No reason not to try and adapt it to organic system.  I think I will give it a try as well.

Seems like all you need to rebar and gutters to make the set up. Low cost.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1584
Adam, all I saw was this

Adam, all I saw was this photo.No areial view, sorry.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1878
No worries, Wendy

As treebeard mentioned, it looks like they're in simple rain gutters. Should be pretty staightforward to replicate.

earthwise's picture
earthwise
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2009
Posts: 829
Here's somethin'.........

I just googled "raingutter strawberry" and got loads of links. This link shows a variation to raingutter gardening and grows several other crops as well.

I think some 4 inch plastic landscape drain pipe split in half lengthwise would work too, and might resist corrosion better. Just a thought. I hope to do some experimenting with these ideas if I get some time.

Grover's picture
Grover
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2011
Posts: 507
Grover Garden

I'm always looking for ways to use waste materials. I had lots of 5 gallon buckets sitting around and wanted to put them to good use. I tried drilling holes for drainage in the bottom and planting tomatoes and peppers. There isn't quite enough substrate for tomatoes, but this worked well for peppers. I even tried the topsy-turvy idea by drilling a large hole with a hole saw and hanging the bucket - okay, but water dribbled onto the tomato stem and caused slight problems.

I saw a strawberry planter made from a plastic tube filled with soil and had slits cut in the bag where plants emerged. Then, inspiration came while looking at a toilet seat. (And you thought my avatar was a piece of jewelry.)

Bucket cutout

This is a pattern that I apply to a 5 gallon bucket. I draw 6 of these patterns equidistantly around a 5 gallon plastic bucket just under the first ribbing. Then, I drop an inch or so below the bottom of the pattern and draw 6 more so they are in the gaps between the upper row pattern. Then, I make 1 more row with the patterns lined up with the top row. There is a total of 18 patterns per bucket.

This is a bean bucket that should give you an idea of the spacing. This bucket had 24 flaps - too many. I also screwed the lids to the base of the bucket for stability - unnecessary. By the way, Homer buckets get brittle after a year or two in sunlight. The flaps break off. I wouldn't use these unless you were desperate.

Bean bucket

Then, with a quarter inch drill bit, I drill out the 2 "eye" holes on each pattern. (I also drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket.) Then, using a jig saw with a metal cutting blade, I insert the blade in one of the holes and cut along the pattern to the other hole. This leaves a flap. After cutting all 18 flaps, I wipe of the frayed edges and bend the flaps into the buckets and dump the loose plastic particles.

To transplant plants, I fill and firm soil up to the bottom of the openings in the borrom row. With the flap bent inward to the center of the bucket and perpendicular to the bucket face, I place the roots of the transplant through the flap into the bucket. The plant's soil line (below is roots, above is greenery) should be placed about 1/2" from the bucket face. Then, bend the flap downward about 45°. Fill the other 5 flaps on this row the same way. Then, fill the bucket with soil to the next row (and then the top row.)

When you've got the top row planted, fill the bucket to the rim with soil and firm it up. Then, scoop out about half a gallon of soil from the center. This will be a good watering reservoir. For my soil, I've found that each bucket can hold about a gallon of water and I need to water every other day in the summer. Depending on your summer heat, plants may need to be watered daily (or more frequently.)

Here is a picture of one of my strawberry buckets in my greenhouse taken in mid October of the first year. The strawberries are Tristar - an everbearing variety. They are quite delicious.

Strawberry bucket in October

I've found about a third of the strawberry plants die each year. No problem. I pull the roots as best I can and then replant a runner into the spot. The earliest buckets are now starting their 4th season.

As noted, this works very well with small plants. I have buckets for lettuce, herbs, strawberries, beans, peas, etc. Keep plants with similar watering needs together.

It doesn't work too well with tomatoes, beets, carrots, potatoes, etc.

Hope some of you daring souls give this a try. Let me know if you have any questions.

Grover

Thrivalista's picture
Thrivalista
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2011
Posts: 41
Strawberries in the greenhouse in October...

That's pretty tempting, Grover!

"And you thought my avatar was a piece of jewelry." Not me - I was thinking whimsical smiley face.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1878
Above-ground strawberries: good initial success

Inspired by the photo from this original post, I replicated the system in my home garden (northern CA).

So far, it's working out great.

Set-up was easy:

  • 1 plastic gutter from the local hardware store
  • 3 rods of rebar, which the hardware store bent for me into L-shapes
  • 1 drip irrigation tube, with holes every 6 inches
  • 1 bag potting soil

I planted two types of strawberries (Albion and Seascape), both of which seem to love the set-up. The plants quickly exploded in size and have now started producing fruit. As in the original photo, the fruit extends over the edge of the gutter and hangs in mid-air, becoming nicely plump.

  

There are a few berries like the one in the photo that should be ready for picking tomorrow. Hoping they taste as good as they look.

I particularly appreciate how this approach takes up so little room in the garden. Experienced gardeners know how strawberries will quickly multiply and crowd out other plants planted in the same garden bed - and this gutter system avoids that entirely.

It's still early days, but I recommend this raised gutter set-up highly. 

leems's picture
leems
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 25 2013
Posts: 1
blueprint

Does anyone have a blueprint on steps to building a pyramid style trellis? I want to try it out this year with my cucumbers.

[Also] How did you attach the gutter, or is it just sitting there?

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1878
Baling wire

Leems -

I simply use a little baling wire to tie the gutter down on the rebar:

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1584
strawberry harvest

I just wanted to chime in that while my strawbs are not that far above ground (they are in raised beds), the decisions worked when we (a) put in a mulberry tree to distract birds from strawberries, and (b) put our raise beds in the patial shade of a long-needled pine that dusts the bed with pine straw.

Our mulberries fruited at the same time as the strawbs, and we have lost none of the strawbs to birds or squirrels - they are too busy at the mulberry tree. For those of you who live in the American South and have access to pine straw, it works as well as hay-bale straw to mulch and keep the strawberries off the ground.

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 279
strawberries

I have all my strawberries up on the deck.  Whatever it was that was eating them last year has not foiund them yet.

bobbigo's picture
bobbigo
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 19 2014
Posts: 1
Birds

I really love this idea, I am worried about the birds.  I don't have

a distraction for them with another fruit tree.  I will have to think on what I can do. 

Possibly netting.

Love the idea though

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments