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2012 strawberry towers for fair


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Old 03-12-2012, 12:34 PM
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Default 2012 strawberry towers for fair

So guy's I need some input here. I have 120 bare root strawberry plants that I got 2 days ago for the fair display. I have been keeping them covered with a damp towel like the lady told me to. I don't have a fridge I can keep them in. Hopeing to get the pipe for them tonight (waiting to hear from owner that the donation was ok'd) Now the delima, I know how I am gonna make the tower, but I don't have a greenhouse just yet and I'm worried about planting them too early. The forcast for today is rain and snow and the low temps for the next week btwn 29 and 40. The day temps from mid 60's to 40's. If I drape them in clr plastic and wrap the pipe with non-led christmas lights, will that keep them warm enough? I do have some windows for my green house that I guess I could utilize and just make a box around them with some 2x4's. I also have some sheets of 2" foam that I can cover them with at night kind of box them in and add a top. I can heat the nutes with some stock tank heaters. Is that gonna be enough? I will be making towers like these...

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Last edited by fintuckyfarms; 03-12-2012 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:26 PM
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Just receive an e-mail that I got the pipe donated, but I probably wont get it till Friday. I think I will have to put them in something else till then
maybe a raft system I can fit in the house till it gets warmer...
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:14 AM
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fintuckyfarms
When is the fair? I thought it was going to be in late August. I wouldn't start the plants any sooner than 2-1/2 to 3 months before the fair. Given the right growing conditions the bare roots strawberry plants will take a few weeks to wake up and start growing foliage. Then within a month after that, they will have plenty of foliage and flowers. Within the next few weeks they will be full grown, producing plenty of flowers and in their prime (flourishing in about 2- to 2-1/2 months, given good conditions).

That said, for starting that many plants without a permanent home, I would build a temporary system for them to begin growing (propagation system). Actually I would create the temporary propagation system regardless of weather the main system was built or not. The best and easiest system for starting the bare root plants (as well as any seedlings/sprouts) in my opinion is a shallow grow bed. Use a short wide plastic tub/storage tote. Fill it with Vermiculite, Perlite, or coco fiber for a growing media. Then run it as a simple drip or flood and drain system. But if using Vermiculite or Perlite in a flood and drain system, be aware that it floats, so the water level will be a factor in how well it actually works. Personally I would set it up as a drip system similar to how I did for the makeshift system I made for my Mellon seedlings. They will be easy to transplant as long as you don't let them get to large before you transplant them into the main system.

Also just a tip for healthier strawberry plants. Strawberry plants are very susceptible to soil born pathogens. So unless your bare root plants were grown hydroponically, they were grown in soil, and I don't know of a commercial supplier growing bare root strawberry plants hydroponically. their might be some, I just don't know of any. Because strawberry plants are very susceptible to soil born pathogens, I would either dust the roots with beneficial microbes/fungi (specifically Trichoderma and or Mycorrhizae), or mix it directly into the growing media for a much more even distribution (as well as much less labor incentive with that many plants to do). I will be mixing both in with the growing media for my greenhouse operation. Here are the two products I already have, and will be using: General Hydroponics SubCulture-B (for Trichoderma), and Earth Juice Rooters Mycorrhizae (for Mycorrhizae). That will give your strawberry plants the best chance of being strong and healthy.

P.S.
I don't know if you have read this article before or not:

Berry Bonanza: Growing Indoor Strawberries
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 03-13-2012 at 02:34 AM.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for the info, the lady assured me that I would have strawberries for fair with this variety. I will check out your articles as soon as I can, I knew I would have to do something with the roots to clean them better.
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Old 03-14-2012, 06:14 AM
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I don't doubt you'll have strawberry's for the fair, just saying that if the fair is in late August, I wouldn't start them now. I would wait until late May at the earliest to start them (two months from now). The thing with soil born pathogens is you cant clean them off the roots. Even if you clean every speck of soil off, the pathogens will still be on/in the roots. It only takes one infected plant to spread it to all of them in a recirculating hydroponic system.
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:37 PM
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I completely get where you are coming from, however the business that donated them said I had to take them now if I wanted them. I don't have anywhere to keep them dark and cold as I wasn't expecting to get them on the day I asked for them. The pipe still isn't in, maybe today. I just don't want to loose them. Even if they are only with me long enough to take picts on how to put the system together and then reorder them later for fair(even if I have to go with plugs). In the research, I knew the plants were being shipped now, but I didn't expect to get them donated let alone have to take them on the same day I asked for them. I just will do everything in my power to ensure that they get a good start and make it to fair. I talked to the hydro store lady and she is gonna provide some root stuff like you mentioned. I am going to divide them in to two systems so if one goes bad, I won't loose both of them. After this weather system passes, spring is suppose to hit and there is no way I can keep them cool enough so they don't start to grow. Talking with other gardeners, they will be planting their soil ones this next week and use a cover at night. Gpsfrontier, I know you want what is best and I apprieciate you help, I just don't know what else to do.
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Old 03-17-2012, 10:07 AM
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Got everything I need to build the strawberry towers yesterday, but then I got sick and now work is in the way. All I managed to get done yesterday was to draw the lines on the pipe to mark where I am gonna drill the holes (100 of them) then I just got too tired and went to bed. I get off work at 4 today and I hope I can at least get the system built today and then maybe planted Sunday after work. Sunday night is suppose to be our last cold night near freezing then we're home free for the spring planting season. The new hydro store really went the extral mile and hooked me up with everything I could possibly need and some stuff for the roots to make them healthier. I don't remember the names but will post it later when I have them next to me. The strawberry plants are growing, no matter how cold or dark I can keep them so they gots to get planted. I would say more then 50% show green and growing leaves.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:39 AM
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fintuckyfarms
As always I'm behind you all the way. I'm sorry if it didn't seem that way in my last post/s. I had some bare root strawberry plants I orders (30 of them) kept in our refrigerator for almost a year before I decided not to keep them anymore. They didn't take up much space at all, and wouldn't think it would take up much space to keep 120.

But bottom line, the way I understand it is the plants are already starting to grow whether you had a place to keep them or not. I hope you aren't allergic to strawberry's too??? You'll have strawberry's months before the fair. Try and keep the plants manicured (trim the old growth) to allow air circulation between the leaves. In good conditions you can probably keep old strawberry plants producing longer than normal. But if you can't control the temperatures (both root zone, and air temps) the plants will go into survival mode (aborting fruiting). I would expect the old plants to become stressed much easier. That's the main reason I would want the plants to be in their prime at the time of the fair (high temps of August). In order to reduce the effects of the stress they will be subject to.
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Old 03-19-2012, 09:37 AM
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My origional plan was to have 2 towers, one strawberrys and one flowers. I was able to get enough pipe for 4 towers so that I can have a back up at my home. If one goes bad, I'll just swap it out. I will try to find an online co that I can buy from in May because there will not be any available locally from the garden stores except maybe Home Dopey or Lowes. I also got enough 6" pipe for two systems so one I think will be a NTF with net cups and one will be a flood and drain planting directly into the medium through a slot down the center of the pipe (like the one at Bigalow farms). I just want to try and show several options for people to see. I also have left a contact for crop king to see if they can send me some stuff to hand out and specifally info on the fodder feed system that I think could be big in our area. I plan on using it next winter instead of buying hay.

I am not allergic to strawberries, I think mellons are the only fruit I have issues with

So did you get any of the snow in Arizona? We are forcasted up to 1" tonight so we will see.

Been looking at greenhouse designs and I think I might sink mine into the ground about 2' to 4' to help heat/cool. You need to hurry up and get that greenhouse finished so I can see how your underground system works!
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
I also got enough 6" pipe for two systems so one I think will be a NTF with net cups
I thought the strawberries were going to be in a vertical tube? NFT systems are horizontal.

Glad your not allergic to strawberries. Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits. But I really only like them when their ripe. When I used to drive trucks, I picked up new cars to delver to dealerships. I was at the port in Oxnard (CA) at least once a week. They had dozens of strawberry fields all over the place there. I would always stop and pick up a flat when I was headed by my moms house in AZ (where I live now), because I knew she liked fresh ripe strawberries also. We don't get strawberries like that anymore now that I'm not driving anymore , nobody grows them around here. Well until I can expand my hydro farm into growing commercial strawberries too, along with many other crops.

I'm sure there were parts of AZ. that got snow like near flagstaff and much of northern AZ like the grand canyon. But we only got rain, and some small hail. Though some of the higher ridges around here may have gotten some snow that melted early the next day. I warped up work on the greenhouse Sunday about dark (6:30-7pm) because my finger tips were freezing from working with buckets of water and the wind chill. I came in to find out the outside temp was 45 degrees at that time. I had to go back out and put the water filter system in the garage because I didn't want to chance letting it freeze through the night.

The real test for the sub T system will be during the heat of mid summer here. I'm anxious too, as well as a bit nervous about my construction of it because it's the hart of the greenhouse cooling system. Not to mention a prototype for future greenhouses I build for the business. So there's a lot riding on how well my construction of it works. I know I can improve it. But until I see the actual numbers of how well it's working, I wont have anything to compare the goal to.

P.S.
Sinking the greenhouse in the ground a few feet is a good way to control temps. That wasn't going to work for me for a few reasons though. First is because the foundation and side walls of the in-ground portion would be drastically different, but even more of a concern much more expensive. Also things like excess water drainage (pluming) a sunken-in area will be a problem (cost more) as well. Second is because I built the greenhouse at my moms house I needed to make it fairly easy to remove, thus not a permanent structure. Third, not to mention I wouldn't even been able to sink it in the ground if I wanted to with the phone line running directly underneath it. Forth, with 3 levels I need all the light I can to be able to get inside to the plants, and blocking light from the bottom few feet would have significantly reduced the amount of light the plants inside got. Well unless the overall greenhouse height was increased by the same amount, (thus have the same above ground height). That's just my current situation, but under different circumstances, even sinking it one foot would help temperature control.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:58 AM
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Yep, strawberries and flowers in 2 verticle 8" pvc towers, and 2 different systems in 6" pvc. One a NTF like I ran last year with the net cups and one that has a section of the pipe cut out and filled with medium that will be a flood and drain. I saw a few of these on youtube and they seem to be doing good. The only picture I could find shows a system at the end of the season in January so it's a bit ragged, but I'm sure you can see the potential.

The landscape picture is out my back door. Almost 2 acres of pasture for one 17 year old sheep and 5 chickens. Someday I WILL have a large greenhouse out there.

The only thing I have done on the towers is to make where I am going to cut the holes today. Today is my Saturday and we bowled last night, sooo I slept in. Here's to getting someting done today besides the dishes
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Old 03-22-2012, 11:42 AM
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Anybody know how L O N G it takes to pre-drill 100 holes, drill 100 1 1/2 holes then sand 100 holes? About 5 times longer then I thought But it is done, now just working on the "plumbing" and I should be planting this afternoon. I added some utility gate handles so I can move the system inside at night pretty easy. It snowed here last night but the rain melted it away. All around us is getting hammered with snow. Weird climate issues going on. Been hammering my husband pretty bad about getting that greenhouse up and going i.e I would not be building systems in our kitchen Any way, will post some pictures tonight after I get it going....
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Old 03-22-2012, 11:40 PM
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So it's up and going... in the kitchen. Suppose to get down to freezing again tonight and snow. Took a pict from my back door to show the snow from last night.

So I still have some bugs to work out. The lady at the grain store was only suppose to give me 120 plants, but it's more like 400 Didn't even make a dent in the pile she gave me. Have no idea where I'm gonna put the rest of them. Will make another tower on my weekend and maybe pick up some cement trays and make a flood and drain system for the rest or maybe put some in my 4" pvc from last year. I can drill some more holes and place them closer together.
The pump I got donated is way too strong for only one tower, but I think it will be ok with 2 and can handle 4.
Back to work tomorrow
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2012 strawberry towers for fair-541229_3114089885385_1058561051_32399766_1441442056_n.jpg   2012 strawberry towers for fair-dscf3615.jpg   2012 strawberry towers for fair-dscf3617.jpg   2012 strawberry towers for fair-dscf3614.jpg   2012 strawberry towers for fair-dscf3612.jpg  

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Old 03-24-2012, 12:22 PM
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So I have been tring to get the strawberries outside but the weather has been crazy! I went to the weather channel to check the next 10 days. Look at our high and lows this month, crazy

I really need a green house

I have a 4 day weekend thanks to no voice... Kind of hard to answer phone and talk on the radio w/o a voice. I have one more week of days then I switch to graves for 3 months. Will be building another tower to try and use up some more of the strawberries and also gonna give some away.

So I now know why it seems there are so many strawberries.... because there is! I planted 100 of them and did not make a dent, I think the lady gave me closer to 400 of them. Think of the cardboard that goes under a case of pop, filled to about 10 inches tall w/strawberries. I am so nieve sometimes, cuz really who would take the time to count out 120 strawberry plants if your not getting paid for them, nope just grab an armfull and call it good!
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2012 strawberry towers for fair-photo.jpg  

Last edited by fintuckyfarms; 03-24-2012 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 03-25-2012, 02:10 PM
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Put it outside last night!!! Only 3 more to make...
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:56 PM
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Hello fintuckyfarms,
I'm wondering, it dosen't look like you used any baskets. Did you fill the tube with Perlite, and just placed the plants directly into the Perlite? If so how much Perlite did it take to fill it? The strawberry plants look like their getting nice green leaves. It's hard to really tell from the pictures, but the only concern I have is that the plant spacing may be to close, they look like their only spaced about 4-5 inches apart.

I know you said you have your system planed out your constructing it, but I wasn't sure if you have seen the drawings I made of a similar system I planed to build when I can. I had two different designs thought out for the vertical tube stands. One is for a single tube system, the other is for holding multiple tubes. Anyhow I just thought they may give you some more ideas if you haven't already got it covered.

P.S.
I guess you'll have plenty of strawberry plants left over to stick in your backyard, but keeping the animals out of them may be another issue.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 03-26-2012 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:34 AM
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No I hadn't seen your drawings before, wish I had. I copied a commercial strawberry system I saw on-line. They built theirs in a greenhouse and had rows after rows of the towers. They used 6" pvc and I used 8" because I also thought that was a little close. They also utilize a run to waste drip system and I chose to recirculate the nutes so I added the bottom part. It is working well and the plants are growing. I will look at your design before I build the other 3 towers. I have not yet buried the nutes so they are in a temp bin but I plan to use a 55 gall barrel.

I did not use net cups and planted directly into the perlite just like the commercial system. It took about three 5 gal buckets to fill the tube. You fill to the bottom of the first row, add plants and fill to bottom of next row and repeat. Goes pretty fast once you get use to it. You have to rinse the perlite first and I made sure the crown? part was out of the tube since they don't like to get wet.

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Old 03-27-2012, 03:24 AM
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I know I've posted these drawings a few times, but don't remember in what threads. So I'll post them all for you here (though their not in any particular order). When I come up with a concept, I like to use Google sketchup to make 3D drawings to work out details, as well as use later for my website/share with others. My vertical tube designs are planed as an aeroponic/soakaponics system, and use baskets to hold the plants and growing medium. The roots then hang down inside the tube (thus aeroponic). I worked the water delivery system out a couple different ways. One just uses sprayer heads at the top and lets it rain down through all the roots to the bottom. The other uses a center PVC tube with misters in it for a more direct spray. But I like the top spray the best for ease. Either way I would have the mister tubes easily swappable, and have extras to replace them with if they got clogged. That way it would only take me a couple minutes to change them all, then take my time cleaning each of the mister heads. Then it would be ready to swap the whole thing out the next time.

I also worked them out as either a single tube design, with either a separate reservoir, or with the reservoir at the bottom. As well as a multiple tube system using a central reservoir. Of coarse the basket size, as well as the tube size would be up to the grower, and I would base that on the size of plants planed to be grown. The drawings aren't perfect, it was just to hard to draw. But the side tubes are shown to be straight and go all the way through. That wouldn't be the case, the side tubes would be glued to the side with marine goop. The baskets would slide down into the side tubes, and go down parshley inside the vertical tube for the growing media to get moisture. My designs are a bit more labor incentive in constructing than the one you built. But in the long run will use a ton less growing media, and that can add up, especially if using many vertical tubes (and 12 inch tubes) like I plan.

P.S.
I have drawings of a system I plan to build for growing strawberry's if your interested in those drawings as well.
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2012 strawberry towers for fair-reservoir-base121.jpg   2012 strawberry towers for fair-reservoir-lid.jpg   2012 strawberry towers for fair-reservoir-lid2.jpg   2012 strawberry towers for fair-simple-bottom-support.jpg   2012 strawberry towers for fair-tube-coupler.jpg  

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Old 03-27-2012, 12:29 PM
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As usual, really awesome job and I will probably steal some of you ideas. The only thing is that we have some wind here, well lots of wind, so if the system is not inside (like at fair) then I also have to keep it from tipping over in the wind. Almost lost mine yesterday, the wind was so strong that it moved the basketball hoop even with the base filled w/water and several bricks placed on top of that. For fair, I plan on using some 4x4's and running a cable btwn them and clipping the spinner to the cable so the system can not blow/tip over. I was thinking about building one with the tube underneath on wheels for my mom's birthday cuz she has a big pool area and she could roll it around on the concrete to where she liked it. I was thinking shorter so the tipping issue wouldn't matter maybe using a rement of a 18" pipe I saw at the irrigation place. If the unit was all in one and she just had to plug it in, I think it would work.
Those are the windmills I can see from my house, they run almost non-stop from Kennewick to Walla Walla. Ya, we get some wicked wind!
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:07 AM
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We don't really have constant winds, but we do get some really strong winds too. It can be dead still for days, then 40-50 mph winds the next. The footings of the stands can be altered to make a wider footprint. Like adding a "A" frame to both sides/ends of the multiple tube support, or widening the round base on the ground for the single tube support. One thing I do is to add weight. In the past I have taken some old pillow cases and filled them about half way with rocks as a weight. Kind of like using sand bags. I also have a cement brick that is really a bag of cement that got left out in the rain, got wet, and is now just a cement weight/brick/doorstop. I use it to weigh things down. You can see the cement bag/brick on the tabletop, and the old pillow cases with rocks weighing down the PVC trellis around my old tomato setup. If you don't have any old pillow cases, you can usually find them real cheep at garage sales or thrift/second hand stores. The rocks are free from our backyard. Not the prettiest fix, but it works for me.

P.S.
I added a some pictures of the system drew up for the system I plan to grow strawberry's in. There aren't any measurements in the drawings, but the hole spacing, as well as tube spacing is planed to be about 10-12 inches apart on center. That would give each strawberry plant 5-6 inches to grow on each side before being crowded. The larger multi level one is just a much larger version of the smaller one that I plan to build for growing them commercially. I do have a couple of updates that aren't in the drawings yet, but the function is still the same. The updates just involve the type, and placement of the water inlet and overflow fittings. I planed it as a flood and drain system, but it can quickly be converted into a NFT system. The photo is the inspiration for my planed strawberry system.

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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-07-2012 at 12:03 AM.
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