A week or so a go I posted some photos to our facebook page that received a few comments and questions.
Can you guess what caused all the feedback?
The hanging strawberry planters made from old guttering :). Yes they are slug free! and yes picking them head height is easy!
I can’t claim to be the originator of this idea. I had many a summer job when at high school picking fruit for commercial soft-fruit farmers, one of the easiest and best was picking strawberries on hanging planters in giant polytunnels. Although their solutions were a lot more expensive than mine.It’s a pretty easy thing to set up if you have horizontal crop-bars in your polytunnel (if you don’t have crop-bars? I don’t know. Hopefully this will be a starting point for you). Just to stress the importance of crop-bars – they are designed to take weight hanging from them. Gutters full of strawberries, soil and water are heavy, so please take care and make sure you know your polytunnel (or other growing space) isn’t going to collapse with the extra weight before you try anything like this.
I just wanted to say a few things, things we learnt so that you can go straight to strawberry heaven in your polytunnel.
Firstly, these gutters swing in the wind, even with doors shut. So do make sure you use a good strength string to hold them up with and a really tight knot to tie the ends of the string together. Fingers crossed and touch wood ours haven’t tipped over. We have doubled up on the string, just in case one breaks. I say string, but it’s actually some old electric fencing wire.
Secondly, we drilled some drainage holes in some of the gutters and not in others. There hasn’t been any difference that I can see between the plants. So as long as the gutters are not absolutely horizontal – ie the water can drain, I wouldn’t bother drilling holes in the plastic if I did this again.
Thirdly, unless you set up a sophisticated overhead watering system you’ll be watering with a watering can. Therefore work out your optimum height for lifting a full watering can and picking fruit and aim for that when tying the strings. Oh and don’t forget the plants underneath – how high are they going to grow?Good luck! Let me know if you try this and how you get on.
PS We’ve been eating strawberries from the polytunnel for two weeks now. The strawberry plants outside are only just starting to set fruit. Whether the ones outside will get eaten by slugs or not only time will tell, but the strawberries hanging inside will always be slug free.
PPS A special thanks to the team from the south-west Wales permaculture group who, after our foraging walk, helped divide, plant up and put up the planters. xx