Vertical strawberry planter. How many mouths to feed?

by Bob Grey
(Australia)

150mm pvc pipe poly cable drum/reel

150mm pvc pipe poly cable drum/reel

150mm pvc pipe poly cable drum/reel
Trimmed down drum/reel and slots in the reel
150mm pipe cap screwed in the bottom.
comes apart easy if its ever needed. Rope in the cable end slots to make it easier to move.

Hi, I Googled for info and came across your site.


I have been busily setting up a pot/container-based garden and trying to find out different creative ways of growing things.

I wanted to put some horizontal pipes on the fence and while researching that I came across this article you did on the strawberries.

I was mulling over what I had read that you did here and while clearing a spot to put some cucumbers and get to the fence to put the pipes up I came across the cable reel and I got an idea.

Items:
Cable reel.
1400mm of 150mm stormwater pipe.
1 x 150mm storm water cap.
3 screws.

Tools:
Hand saw. Regular timber cross cut.
Electric drill
1/2 drill bit. (a little blunt is better, a sharp bit bites too hard)
Cheap jigsaw / recipro or maybe even a sawsall (whatever that is, heard of them but we don't have them here.)
Utility knife. Deburring edges.
Cheap hardware store heat gun.

Its pretty self explanatory how it all came together.
Just in case someone wants a rundown;

Spend extra time measuring and setting out. Measure thrice, cut once.

Pulled the drum apart, It twists and locks with tabs. Lift the tabs up with a screwdriver. It breaks down into 4 parts.

The centre part of the drum is two flat bits that fold into a semicircle and interlock together. They can be laid flat and cut with the jigsaw. I just went with openings that corresponded to the grid/reinforcing pattern in the plastic.

Took one side of the drum and opened up the centre hole so the pipe would fit in it then trimmed the outer back to drum diameter with the Jigsaw.

Screwed the pvc cap to the inside of what will be the base, just eye if to be concentric. Drill some drain holes.

Cut PVC pipe to length.

Mark it out. Thanks for the sewing tape measure tip!

Divide the circumference by 4 and mark out the 4 lines to get quarters.

Cut 4 short slots into the bottom where it will go into the cap. They are not an overly tight fit but with the fine grit that water can wash into everywhere it can make it near impossible to even get an unglued fitting off a pipe by hand over time.

Made 4 large holes to correspond with the holes in the reel drum.

I went with 150mm spacings, well alternating, so 300mm spacings. Drilled a 1/2" hole 50mm either side of the 1/4 line. Then with the Jigsaw cut a slot 1/2" wide.

Use the utility knife to scrape the edges of the cuts clean.

I used the 1/2 drill bit because that was the first one I put my hands on that worked with the blade that was in my jigsaw. It was all out already for the aformentioned pipes on the fence job. I could have used a narrower profile jig saw blade or even maybe just cut the slots with the hand saw.

Then use the heat gun to warm the plastic up, This is an old trick a plumber taught me. Warm the PVC up until it gets soft and floppy. I tired a few different things but the best thing was to just put on a glove and stretch. Welders or riggers glove works, gardeners glove might too. Its a bit hot to do more than one bare handed.

The PVC has a pretty good memory when its soft, it just springs back. You need to wait for it to start to cool down again and it will get to a point where its flexible enough to distort and stretch but the memory is gone so it will stay put. Its the sort of thing that you are best to just experiment with.

Not sure how you could do this without the discolouration. Perhaps a different heat source? You could sand and paint. I figured the strawberries will cover it up.

Looking at your article here I thought the tip on opening up the holes might help. Loading the plants in and stopping the medium falling out looked to be a bit of a fiddly thing. This might be a good way around it.

Plus its a way around needing a holesaw. They can be expensive.

I had also thought of putting a watering tube down the center but with all the mouths to water into I didn't think it was needed. I think just an extra strawberry plant on the top will do the trick.

Feel free to edit, re-post and share as you see fit. If you would like more info or have a question please ask.

I am off to see my daughter tomorrow and this will be going with me. She is 3 1/2. Should be a good project for us to go off to the hardware store for potting mix and some plants and get it setup. I will pull it completely apart and take a few more pics before I put it in the car. And of course the obligatory after pic when we are done.

Cheers, Bob Grey, Melbourne Australia.

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Thanks for the excellent write-up and innovative ideas, Bob. Bet you and your daughter are going to have a ball (and some good eating) with this project!

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