How to make Strawberry Tower. This is a great dessert that will impress your guests.
With Strawberry Tower being very popular from last year, I am really excited to share this easy tutorial with you. This gorgeous cake is so impressive and it’s quite inexpensive and easy to make!
How to build a strawberry tower
A strawberry tower is a great way to grow fresh fruit in a limited space, such as on a deck or patio. Here, Master Gardener Charlene Landreau shows how to build a tower out of cheap (or free!) 5-gallon plastic buckets.
• Two 5-gallon buckets
• 30” x 36” length of lining material (burlap, weed cloth, or garden cover such as Reemay)
• Potting soil mixed with either finished compost or time-release fertilizer pellets
• 1 can of spray paint (optional)
• Approximately 30 strawberry runners, starts, or plants
• 1/4” soaker hose and a length of 1/4” spaghetti tubing if using drip irrigation
While this can be a one-person project if you are handy, you might find it useful to have a helper hold things steady while you work.
• 1 or 2 pair of pliers
• Cloth or other flexible tape measure
• Marking pen
• Safety goggles
• Hand drill
• A 2” diameter hole bit
• Several clothespins
Step 1: Cut the buckets
Using the pliers, remove the metal handles from each bucket. It is easier if you use one pair of pliers in each hand to twist the handle out of its socket. Have your helper hold the bucket still while you do this, or hold it steady with your knees.
Measure up 1/2″ from the bottom of bucket one, and use the marker to mark the spot in several spots around the circumference of the bucket. Lay the tape measure along the marks and follow it with the marker to draw a line all the way around. This will be your sawing guide.
The line should be high enough on the bucket so that when you saw through, it just cuts the bottom off and not much more.
Do the exactly same thing to bucket two, but mark your line 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch up from the bottom, so that bucket two will be 1/2 to 1 inch shorter than bucket one.
Lay bucket one on its side on a raised surface, hold it still with either your helper or your other hand, and use the hacksaw to cut the bottom off the bucket along the marker line you drew. Do the same to bucket two.
Use the sandpaper to sand the edges smooth and remove any hanging threads of plastic that remain.
Test your buckets by standing the shorter one bottom up and then inserting the longer one into the first. Because the buckets are designed to nest into each other, and since you cut one shorter and therefore slightly wider, they should go together easily and tightly with just a small twist. If you are having trouble because they seem too tight, you may have to sand or file the shorter one down a little more until you get it wide enough to accommodate the longer bucket. Once you determine that they will twist together snugly, take the buckets apart. Now you are ready to drill the 2” holes in the sides.
Step 2: Drill the holes
You may want to mark where you will place the holes with your marker before drilling. Make the holes approx. 4” apart, and stagger them so the spacing seems random. Start the top row just under the thick rim of the bucket. Mark 5 or 6 holes in this top row, 4” apart. They don’t have to be in a straight line, a little variation is better. The second row will have only 4 or 5 holes, approx 4” from the top row, but with staggered placement (not directly below the top holes, but off-set between them). You may have room for 2 holes at the bottom, also in off-set placement. Don’t mark too close to the very bottom. Remember you will be tucking the buckets together in the bottom one inch.
Have your helper hold bucket one steady on its side, or you can lay it down between your legs and hold it that way. Wear your safety goggles for this step to avoid plastic dust in your eyes.
Using your drill with the 2” hole bit attached, drill holes in the side of the bucket at your marks.
Do the same with bucket two. After drilling use sandpaper again to smooth down the edges of the holes and remove any hanging plastic threads.
Step 3: Paint the tower
If you are planning to spray paint your tower, now is the time to do it. Keeping the buckets separated; spray paint the outside surface with any desired color. Be sure to select a spray paint that is made for plastic or PVC so it will adhere to the bucket.
Step 4: Assemble and line the tower
When the paint is completely dry (see directions on the paint can) you can fit your two buckets together into the final tower. Slide one bucket bottom into the other and twist them together until they are snug. Be sure they are as straight as you can get them so your tower doesn’t lean to one side. Place your bucket in a sunny spot near a convenient water source.
Line the tower with burlap, weed block cloth, or garden cover material. This will keep the soil from falling out of the holes. Cut a piece of the material the same height as your tower and approx. 36” wide. The width should be a little wider than the inside circumference of the tower. Place the material inside the tower against the inside wall. Hold it in place with clothespins while you work. A helper comes in handy at this step. Overlap the edge of the lining where the ends meet.
If you are planning to hand-water your strawberries, you can begin to fill the tower with soil at this point. If you are going to use a drip line, see the next step.
Step 5: Connect the drip irrigation
If you are planning to use a drip irrigation line to keep your strawberries watered, run a length of 1/4” spaghetti tubing to the tower and attach one or two 1/4” soaker hoses to the line (use a tee connector if you want two soaker lines). You can run the soaker hoses(s) up from the bottom through one of the holes. If you run the hoses(s) down from the top of the tower, secure the end of the hoses(s) at ground level so they stay in place. The hoses should run vertically through the center of the tower to ensure all the plants get water. Use a helper to hold the hoses in place while you fill the tower with soil.
Step 6: Fill the tower with soil
Potting soil with amendment added is the best medium for your tower. Potting soil has excellent drainage, which is critical in a vertical planting like this. But potting soil has minimal nutrients, and they will be used up right away by your plants. So combine the potting soil with about 1/3 finished compost, or mix time-release fertilizer granules into the potting soil in the ratio recommended on the package. These granules will release a balanced fertilizer over a 3 month period. Finished compost will do the same. Strawberries require nutrients to grow and give a good yield of fruit. Do not skip this step!
Slowly add your soil mix into the tower, gently patting it down as you go, to minimize the settling that will occur after you water the first time. As you fill the tower, the soil will hold the lining in place and you can remove any clips or pins that were used. Fill the tower right up to the top because it will settle some after a short time, and you will want to plant 3 or 4 plants at the top of the soil. If you are using a drip line, keep it vertical and centrally situated as you go.
Step 7: Plant your strawberries
Your tower is now full of soil and ready to be planted.
Using a sharp pair of scissors or a pocket knife, make a slit in the lining at each of the holes.
Reach through with your fingers and make a small hole in the soil, deep enough to hold the root portion of your plant, and place one strawberry plant or runner through the slit and into the soil.
Firm the soil into place around the plant. Do this for each hole, and then at the top of the tower plant 3 or 4 of the remaining strawberry plants to finish it off. You can wait a couple of days before planting these top few. Wait for the soil to settle, then add more soil up to the rim of the tower before planting the top.
Once you have planted all the holes, give your tower a good watering. If using drip irrigation, run the system until the tower is moist throughout but not soaking wet. If by hand, water gently from the top of the tower, and use a narrow-spouted watering can to water directly into each of the holes where each plant is located.
You only need these 5 items to build your own strawberry tower
Fresh strawberries are sweet and delicious, and they’re not too difficult to grow. If you just want a few strawberries every so often, then a single, potted strawberry plant may be enough. If you want more, though, maybe for jams or jellies, then a strawberry tower is just what you need! It maximizes the amount of strawberry plants while minimizing the amount of space needed. You can buy a strawberry tower, sure, but you can also build your own. Here’s what you need in order to make your very own strawberry tower!
What is a strawberry tower?
A strawberry tower is, as the name suggests, a tower on which strawberry plants are grown. The strawberry plants are stacked, which increases visual appeal and the amount of plants you can have in a limited space. A strawberry tower can be a series of stacked or nested individual planters, but the more space-efficient tower is a single column with multiple strawberry plants growing from the sides and tops. This makes it excellent for any area, whether you’re putting your tower outside or squeezing it into one corner of your apartment.
Strawberry towers are very easy to make, and there are a couple different ways you can go about constructing one. They can be as complicated and artistic as you want, and you can make them out of almost any material you have on hand. We’re going to be covering the most basic DIY version of a strawberry tower, but feel free to put your own spin on it!
To make your strawberry tower, you’ll need a few basic hand tools. You’ll need a drill with a drill bit that is two inches across or a similar size. This creates the holes in the side that the plants grow out of, so you need it to be big enough for your plants, but the size can vary.
You also need a hacksaw or similar blade. The exact blade can vary depending on your skill level and the material you choose for your base. It’s used to cut the bottoms off of the bucket(s) used to form the tower.
If the bucket(s) you use for your base have handles, you’ll need pliers to remove them. You’ll also need a smaller blade, such as a pocket knife or scissors, to cut through the lining in the same place that you’ve drilled your holes. A marker or pen is also useful to draw where you want your holes before you drill.
Remember to be careful when drilling and sawing! Having eye and mouth protection is a great way to protect yourself from any flying pieces of plastic.
Bucket or buckets
To form the main column of the tower you’ll need buckets. The exact number and size depends on how tall you want your tower to be. You can use any bucket, but all your buckets should be the same size, or, at the very least, the same width. This is so they stack properly. BPA-free plastic is typically preferred, but the material is up to you.
Cut the bottom off the bucket that will form the base so that excess water can drain from your tower. If you’re planning on having this tower indoors, you may need an additional tray for your tower to sit in, so that the water can drain without damaging your floors. For any additional buckets, cut the bottom plus an additional inch to inch and a half. This should make them stack. Once they’re stacked, you can drill the holes in, and then paint or decorate if you’d like.
To keep the soil from spilling out of the holes, you’ll need something to line the inside of the tower. While any material can be used, keep in mind that this will be in constant contact with the soil and plants. It needs to be something that won’t break down and harm your plants. Look for garden cloth or burlap. You can secure it to the top of your tower with anything you’d like, from clothes pins to glue. Once your tower is lined, cut out the holes where the plants will grow through. Now you’re ready to fill it with soil and plant your strawberries!
There you have it, the basic version of a strawberry tower! This simple but marvelous way to grow a lot of fruit in a little space can be yours with just a few hours of work, some basic tools, two main items, and, of course, some soil and strawberry plants. Remember to be safe when using any tools, measure twice and cut once, and let your creative spirit take the reins! Your strawberry tower can take on so many different forms and appearances now that you know the standard base. So enjoy your fresh strawberries and the satisfaction that comes from making something with your own hands.
How to Build Your Own Strawberry Tower
Introduction: How to Build Your Own Strawberry Tower
Detailed instruction how out to make your own growing tower out of a standard 4″ PVC pipe. Works great for hydroponic or aquaponic systems! Below is the entire transcript from the video:
One of the top requests I get is how to build a strawberry tower. This video will display all the necessary steps to build your own.
The first step is to place a mark on each end of the pipe, then rotate it 180 degrees and mark the other end. Then snap a line down the entire length of the pipe. You could also use a straight edge to mark a line, but I find the chalk line to be more accurate and easier. Turn the pipe over and snap a second line down the opposite side.
Along each chalk line you will place a series of marks. Starting at 2 inches, draw a mark every 8 inches. This will be the spacing between each pocket in the tower. If you are going to grow plants that need more root area, set the spaces further apart. I typically replace the strawberry plants every season. If they grow for more than one season, they can become root-bound.
Starting at the first set of marks, draw a line from one mark and connect it to the mark on the opposite side. Then turn the pipe 180 degrees and connect the next series of marks. Continue rotating the pipe while connecting each series of marks. These lines will be used for cutting the slots in the tower.
Along each cut mark, carefully cut through the pipe until you reach the measured mark you placed at the chalk line. Do not cut through more than half the pipe! Rotate the pipe 180 degrees and cut the next slot. When you are done, each slot should be on the opposite side of the previous slot.
Time for some good gloves. The pipe doesn’t become flexible until it is well above the boiling temperature of water. Please be careful!
The general area that will be heated will be an arch shape starting at one end of the slit, up about 8 inches to the back side of the neighboring slit and then back down to the other end of the slit.
Heating PVC should be done in a well vented area. If you overheat it, it can release some nasty gases. Please be careful! Continuously move the heat around the arched area. Try to avoid heating the area below the slit to keep the pipe from bending too much.
After a few minutes, the PVC will become soft. It helps to apply a little extra heat at the each edge of the slit since this is where the sharpest bend will be.
Push in the PVC so it makes a concave shape in the arched area. You will want to push it in enough so that it will touch against the back wall, but not create a seal since the water will need to trickle through that area, but don’t leave too big of a gap so your growing media will fall through it. When you let go of the pipe, it will usually spring back a little, leaving a gap around ¼”.
I found it to be very helpful to use a few spring-clamps to hold the tight bends in place while the plastic is cooling. You will want to hold the shape in place for a couple of minutes while it is cooling.
It takes me about 3 1/2 minutes to completly create each pocket.
When you are done, you will have some nice pockets alternating on each side of your new tower.
As the water flows through the tower, the surface tension in the water can cause it to flip out of the edge of the slit. To correct this, I added a collar around each pocket.
With some extra pipe, cut some rings about 1 ½” wide. Then remove enough of the ring so when it’s placed over the slit area, it extends just beyond the slit. Add some silicone adhesive and clamp the ring in place. Half of the ring should be placed above the slit line. Use clamps to hold it in place until it cures.
If you’re not going to be draining directly into a sump tank, you’ll need a way to catch the water from your towers. Take a 4” cap and add a fitting to it. Drill a 7/8” hole and thread it with a ¾” tap. There are several ways of adding fittings, but I found this to be very cost effective method.
Take a ¾” NPT to barbed fitting and screw it into the tap. If it is screwed in far enough, it will be higher than the base of the cap. This work well to help any media that as fallen through from going down the drain and clogging it.
This cross-section shows how the fitting is placed into the cap.
Place the cap on the bottom of the tower. The bottom pocket should not be filled with anything so you can clean the base cap if necessary.
To hang your tower, drill a couple of holes on both sides near the top and insert some S hooks. Use a wire or chain to hang it from a strong support.
To connect the tower drains together, you can attach them with tubing and barbed fittings. I made some stands from scrap 3” pipe to support the bottom of the tower. Then I used a 1-1/2” pipe with holes drilled in the side to catch the water from each tower. Each pipe then drained into the main sump tank.
Filling each pocket can be a challenge so I made a tray-type funnel to speed up the process. Take a section of pipe and do a cut down its length. Heat the entire piece so it can be flattened, then bend up the edges so it forms a V shape.
I created a cross-cut section so you could see the inside of the tower. Please note that this sample is done with black ABS so you could see the various surfaces easier. Each pocket will hold about 5 cups, or 1 liter of growing medium. This is enough space for most shallow root plants like strawberries or lettuce. For my strawberry plants, they will usually get water for 10 minutes every hour and a half.