How to Grow Strawberries Using Plastic Bottles
After experimenting with 2 L soda bottles and building a hanging garden, I decided to go bigger by using 10 L plastic bottles to grow strawberries.
I did this because smaller bottles need more water in the summer and plants struggle when there is not a sufficient amount of soil and excess heat.
The bigger water bottles could hold more soil and more moisture.
This will be my second project that involves recycling plastic bottles. Not many tools are needed to build this strawberry farm, and you don't have to be a professional.
Tools You Will Need
This is what you will need to make a strawberry hanging farm:
- Two 10 L bottles
- One 2 L bottle
- One 1/2 L bottle
- Drill with small drill bit
- Tool to drill bigger hole (a hole saw)
- Printer caps
- Some fine gravel
- Potting soil
- Strawberry plants
How to Assemble Your Garden
- First you have to drill a pilot hole in one of the 10 L plastic bottles at the bottom, right in the middle. You will see that there is a hard part. That is where you drill.
- Then you take a hole saw (see photo) and you cut a bigger hole in the bottom of your bottle.
- Turn the bottle on its side and, almost at the top, drill 4 more holes all around the bottle as illustrated below.
- Cut one of the holes bigger with scissors so your hand can fit inside.
Drilling holes in the top of the bottles is not the easiest task I have attempted but after some practice it is not so difficult.
Here is an example of the drill saw used in this process, although you can use whatever tools work for you.
Use the bigger cuttings to drill a smaller hole for use as a washer between the bottles, as illustrated below.
Always remember: safety first. Remember to wear the necessary protective gear for the job at hand.
It is important to put a 2 L bottle on top of the 10 L bottles. Cut a small opening in the side of the bottle to fasten the cap.
Also, drill small holes in the cap that fastens your 2 L bottle into the 10 L bottle, so the water can slowly drain into the bigger bottle.
This 2 L bottle will be filled with water and fertilizer and it will be the water feeder tank.
You can also plant a strawberry in it if you want.
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Fastening Your Bottles
- Drill some small holes in the 10 L bottle's cap for drainage.
- I use a Canon cartridge cap as a washer between the bottles.
- Place some gravel in the cap to help with drainage.
- If you do not have caps, use plastic rings as washers.
- Make sure that the cap is secure, because the weight of the filled bottles is in access of 20kg.
Above the 2 L bottle I have cut a 1/2 L bottle in half and used the top half to secure the garden to a pole. My micro water pipe is placed in it. The 1/2 L bottle is placed above the 2 L bottle which is placed above the 10 L bottles.
Use a strong wire to secure the 1/2 L bottle to the pole where your garden is going to hang. Your garden must hang in full sunlight if possible since strawberries love the sun.
I decided on a strawberry farm because I love the strawberry's versatility. We use this berry in so many forms. The most rewarding is when you pick them fresh from the plant and eat them on the spot.
Strawberries also grow easily, and from only one plant, with patience, you could grow as many strawberries as you want, because the plant produces runners with new plants.
Just remember that you have to put every new runner plant in its own container and cover with soil. After a few weeks, you have a new plant.
To save money, you can simply buy one plant and as it grows, it will produce runners that can be placed inside the opening that do not have any plants yet. Do not cut the runner till the new plant has its own runners.
They also produce fruit throughout the year If conditions are perfect.
You must feed your strawberry farm with fertilizer at the beginning of every season.
I have found that I can add hydrophobic powder in the water and re-use the overflow.
Hydrophobic powder is also a booster in producing fruit.
Planting Your Strawberry Plants
- To plant your newly built strawberry farm, take out the plant you want to plant from its container.
- Shake off most of the soil from the roots.
- Dig a small hole inside the filled 10 L container and place the plant just inside the opening.
- Through the larger opening in the bottle, fill up the rest with potting soil and press lightly around the roots.
- Repeat this with all four openings, doing the larger hole last.
- Lightly water the plants unil the soil is saturated with water.
- Put some leaves inside the container and some outside. The container is like a miniature greenhouse.
- The month of June is in our winter in South Africa and is not the perfect time to replant strawberry plants but they are tough plants and will surely survive.
Why Strawberries Are a Welcome Addition to Any Home Garden
They are relatively easy to grow, require a minimum amount of space, and virtually no chemicals are needed.
From a few plants, you can harvest a staggering harvest in one season.
- Strawberries require a site that is open to direct sunlight most of the day.
- Try to avoid frosts with a cover and the cover may also be used for bird control during harvest periods.
- Berries not eaten fresh can be frozen or preserved.
- Besides being an excellent dessert fruit, strawberries are a good source of vitamin C as well as being low in calories.
Health Benefits of Strawberries
Strawberries are low in calories and fats but a rich source of phyto-nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
Strawberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyaninsand ellagic acid. Scientific studies show that consuming them may have potential health benefits against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.
Strawberry has an oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of anti-oxidant strength.
Fresh berries are an excellent source of vitamin-C (per 100 g) which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infections, counters inflammation and scavenges harmful free radicals.
The fruit is rich in the B-complex group of vitamins. It contains very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. These vitamins act as co-factors that help the body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Strawberries contain vitamin A, vitamin E and health-promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, and beta-carotene in small amounts. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
Furthermore, they contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, fluorine, copper, iron and iodine.
Caring for Strawberry Plants
I fell in love with White Soul strawberries the moment we met! It has so many fantastic qualities! It will lavish you with lovely white flowers and gorgeous white fruit all season long. These plants have traditional strawberry-shaped evergreen leaves but are runnerless, unlike some varieties of strawberries.
This makes them a wonderful choice for borders or any organized flower bed. Pairing or alternating white and traditional red strawberry plants together really makes a stunning color combination. Of course you can always plant them in a more casual fashion in a woodland setting where all of the beautiful white can really brighten things up.
The White Soul strawberry plant is a very heavy producer, and the fruits are actually larger than those of a red strawberry. On top of that, white strawberries are sweeter than red strawberries, and they also have a bit of a pineapple flavor to them. You can enjoy the berries fresh or in any way you would any other strawberry.
They can give a very unique and beautiful new look to some old favorite deserts! Most people have never seen a white strawberry before, so whether they are spotted in your yard or as part of a tasty treat, they are sure to spark intrigue!
About Me (the Gardener)
I love gardening and nature. The most rewarding part for me is to grow my own vegetables and to have some fresh produce without all the pesticides.
I have some water tanks and harvest rainwater for my garden.
We have a small garden and I am always looking for space to grow some new plants or vegetables.
My wife loves to cook with herbs so it is a challenge to grow herbs all year round. Some herbs are scrub-like and grow too large. An ideal method is to plant them in containers.
Containers have a downside to them, because they are labour intensive. They are time-consuming because they need so much water.
© 2013 Louis Fourie