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Aquaponic Strawberry Tower

T he main benefit of an aquaponic strawberry tower is that you can increase your strawberry production without necessarily having to increase your growing space. Because the towers sit vertically they take up less room and can easily fit along a greenhouse wall or hanging above an existing aquaponic arrangement. The main difference when growing fruit in a vertical aquaponic system like a strawberry tower is that it cannot run by gravity alone as with many systems. A vertical aquaponic strawberry tower will need some form of pump to get the water to the top of the towers, though after that the system works about the same. The bottom of the tubes will also have to be stoppered to insure the whole arrangement does not wash through.

Building a strawberry tower requires a basic aquaponic set up with a fish tank to provide the necessary plant nutrients and an adequate pump to moved the water up the tower(s).

The following is an example of how a strawberry tower could be constructed and is intended for educational purposes only. If you would like actual plans or need assistance or help feel free to [Contact] me.

PVC pipe that is approximately 90mm in diameter is perfect, mark the pipe at 180 degree intervals at each end then mark a vertical line connecting each. Starting at 2 inches draw a mark every 8 inches along the marked line for spacing the pockets where the strawberry plants will go. If your chosen variety of strawberry requires more root space it may be necessary to mark the pockets further apart. At the first interval draw a line that horizontally connects the two points and then turn the pipe 180 degrees and do the same thing for each, twisting each time to spiral the pockets down the length. These are the marks you will need for cutting your pockets, cut each of them horizontally until you reach the measured marks. This is certainly a measure twice cut once time so make for certain you know where you are cutting. Do not cut through more than half the pipe and make sure you are rotating the pipe 180 degrees each time. The pockets should be drawn on in an arch that peaks around 8 inches on the back of the next pocket. It is important to wear gloves when heating the pipe because it will become very hot and impossible to handle without protection and to perform the process in a well ventilated area to avoid noxious fumes from building up. Use a heat gun to soften the plastic along the pocket line, do not overheat or it will start to give off toxic fumes. Continuously heat the area for a few minutes then push the pocket inwards towards the back of the pipe. The area should be touching but not sealed to allow the water to run through with a space of about a quarter inch. Repeat this process for each pocket. You will want to hold the shape in place for a couple of minutes to insure the plastic cools in the right shape. Adding an inch collar to the outside of the pipe around each pocket will help prevent overflow and secure with silicone adhesive. Take a corresponding sized cap and drill a hole in the center and fit it with a tap. Screw the tap in so that it is above the base of the cap and will therefore not collect debris. Fit the cap onto the bottom of the tower and secure with silicone. It is important that the bottom pocket not be filled so that the cap can be cleaned of any debris when necessary. Create holes in a drainage pipe for each tower waste to flow into and drain into the sump tank or through another grow bed to filter. To hang the tower drill a couple of holes at the top and insert S hooks with a strong wire or chain for support.

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Once the construction is complete the tower can be filled with grow bed medium like expanded shale and the strawberry seedlings added. The towers can then attach to the pipe set up from the ceiling to receive water. It is a good idea to add taps on each as well as an overflow pipe.

Building an aquaponic strawberry tower is a quick and easy way of growing strawberries. It is also a great way of having perfect fruit year round since it can be grown inside or inside a greenhouse. An aquaponic strawberry tower is an affordable and space efficient way of growing healthy delicious strawberries year round.