Strawberry Towers from 5-gallon buckets - Here is how you can build your own

Photo Credit: UC Master Gardeners

Starting a garden can a fun yet daunting endeavour. Where do you start and what plants do you grow? If you're interested in starting a garden to grow your own food, there are a ton of edible plants you can grow, and many of them are quite easy to grow too. Like strawberry plants for example. They come back every year making them an affordable fruit to grow since you won't have to buy or start out new plants each year. If you don't have a lot of space or access to land for starting a garden, they are plants that are very easy to grow in containers too. This strawberry tower featured on UC Master Gardeners is a great example of caring for strawberry plants in a limited space. You can grow this strawberry tower on your balcony or deck with ease. Charlene Landreau shares her great idea with us on UC Master Gardeners to show how simple it can be to grow your food. All you'll need are some 5-gallon plastic buckets which you can purchase affordably or even get for free. You can get these plastic containers for free from the bakery department at most grocery stores and sometimes the deli area. Just go in and ask if you can have some of their empty containers. This is also a great way to recycle something and give it a new use.

You will need two plastic buckets to create one strawberry tower. You'll also need some liner like weed cloth or burlap to prevent weeds from growing through into the soil. Make sure you use fresh potting soil as the soil in the ground may have weed seeds already in it, and it also may not have all of the nutrients your plants require. You can also get a can of spray paint and paint the containers to match your outdoor decor too, so they aren't just white plastic containers. Last but not least you will need your strawberry plants too. You can find these at any greenhouse or, maybe you even have a friend who has some strawberry starters to give you. For this project, you'll need about thirty starters or plants. To start this project, you need to take off the metal handles using pliers since you don't need them on either of the buckets. Then you just cut off the bottom part of each bucket making one bucket taller than the other. This way, the buckets can nest into each other. Next, you'll drill two-inch holes about 4 inches apart into the sides of each of the buckets staggering them. To make this easy use a 2-inch circular bit on your drill. Once you have all of your holes drilled into the sides of the buckets you can then sand the edges down.

To paint your buckets use a spray paint that is made for plastic, so it sticks properly and doesn't flake off. You can also use a primer coat and a sealant on top to keep the paint looking good. Once your paint is completely dry, put the two buckets together and line them with the weed cover, so the dirt doesn't fall out of the holes. Then, fill the buckets with potting soil mixed with some compost or fertilizer granules to give your strawberry plants some extra food. When you're done filling up the pot with the soil, you can use a utility knife to make cuts in each of the holes which is where the strawberries will be planted. Then make a small hole in the soil and place one plant in each hole. At the top of the planter, you can plant 3 or 4 strawberry plants and then give it a lot of water by watering it from the top of the tower.***

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