After we planted everything last year, several friends sent us pictures of strawberries growing in gutters. In theory, it looked like a great idea. Unfortunately, we didn’t see one single picture that showed what, exactly, those gutters were attached to. This past winter we’ve given it lots of thought, looked around the property, and finally figured out how we were going to do it.
One option was to attach them to the side of the animal shelter. It’s wood, so it would be easy enough to attach the gutters. But it’s also where the chickens live, and we didn’t want them eating the berries before we got to them.
The next idea was to build some sort of frame to hang them on. What kind of frame, how would we build it, and how strong would it have to be to hold these gutters? And where would we put this frame that the dogs wouldn’t accidentally knock it over as they ran around? It would also have to be sturdy enough to withstand the occasional, but very strong, windstorm. Sounded like more work than we wanted to put into this little project.
The final idea was the winner! We would hang them on the side of the dog kennel. It’s 10 x 10 and made of chain link. If we got gutters and wire, it should be pretty easy to hang them. Except, any time I think that, it ends up being 10 times as hard as I thought it would be. Not this time! It ended up being my favorite kind of project: Super-easy! (OK, Charlie did all the work, but it was super-easy for him, too.)
First, he drilled holes in the plastic rain gutter. Some people have said their strawberries dry out quickly when using the gutters, but we are in Washington, and nothing much dries out. We figured it would be better to have drainage, and maybe have to use the hose from time to time, instead of having our berries drown. If you don’t have a drill, I imagine a hammer and nail would do the trick. Just pound in the nail, then pull it out again, until you have a row of holes.
We got some wire at Lowe’s, and Charlie cut it into pieces equal to one time around the circle. Then, he simply twisted one end around the chain link, wrapped it around the gutter, then twisted the other end around the chain link. It took 3 pieces of wire per gutter. One piece at each end, and one in the middle. We’ll be keeping an eye out for any sagging. If we see any, we’ll just string up some more wire.
Once the gutters were hung, Charlie filled them with soil. Then, he planted the strawberry starts. He fit 20 in each gutter.
He had some netting left over from his garden cages, so he draped that over the gutters. We’re hoping that will keep birds away.
Charlie installed a total of 4 gutters, 2 each on the 2 sunny sides of the kennel. That would be a total of 80 strawberry plants, but somewhere two plants got lost, so we get 78. That’s still a heck of a lot of strawberries if our little project works.
I’ll keep you posted on our strawberry progress. If it’s something you want to try, it can be completed in an afternoon. The whole project took Charlie about 2 hours, and that includes hanging the gutters, mixing the soil, planting the berries and cleaning up. A chain link fence works really well. I think a wooden fence could work, as well. You’d just have to screw in some hooks to hold the wire, or loop the wire over the top of the fence boards. Either way, no separate frame needed, and that’s good news.