Hydroponics is being increasingly used in household gardens for growing fruits and vegetables. Of the many berries that are grown through hydroponics, strawberries have emerged as the clear favorite. Growing strawberries in a hydroponic garden is not difficult but it does require a systematic approach.
Hydroponic Strawberry Basics
While there are no perennial strawberry plants, hydroponic production means a faster fruiting cycle. The day-neutral variety of strawberries is best suited for hydroponic production. They produce the fruit for 4 to 6 months in a season.
Hydroponic Strawberry Requirements
- Lighting — strawberries need about 5 hours of daily, full-spectrum lighting. If this is not easily available, you can use gro-lights (artificial lighting).
- Temperature — the ideal range is between 67 and 74 degrees F.
- Direction — strawberries should grow hanging down and this can be achieved by slightly bending the plant bed in the hydroponic container.
- Placement — the container should be placed in a glass-covered porch for best results. If this is not possible, move the container daily to ensure a minimum about of lighting.
Growing Hydroponics Strawberries
Clip some runners from a grown strawberry plant. You can also purchase it from some garden supplies centers. This is much better than using the seeds, as they are expensive.
1. Rooting: Keeping the roots moist is essential but don’t let them sink or the young roots will suffocate.
Place the cuttings in a perlite container. Cover this with a plastic sheet to keep away excess moisture. This arrangement has to be left undisturbed for some time, until the roots begin to appear.
2. Post-rooting: You must simulate winter-like conditions for strawberries.
The small roots or plugs should be dipped in a microbial solution. Wrap the disinfected seedlings into a clear plastic bag. Refrigerate for about 4 months. At the end of this phase, the transplants can be added to the chosen hydroponic system.
3. Placing In Hydroponics System: The strawberry plant should be placed in the permanent container where it will grow to its adult, fruiting stage. Add the hydroponic nutrients to the system. Install a screen/panel to make the roots hang down, in the nutrient-rich solution.
4. Checking pH: The hydroponic preparation should always have a pH level between 5.8 and 6.2. To check this, you can use a pH meter. Keep changing the hydroponics solution every 2 weeks.
5. Pollination: The hydroponic strawberry garden has to be pollinated. Manual pollinating can be done for smaller, household gardens. Here, you can just brush the strawberry flower’s center to disperse the pollen.
6. Harvesting: There are no special techniques for picking strawberries and the plant does not need pruning. Just keep clipping the runners as they inhibit faster fruit production. Some runners can be refrigerated for future production.
7. Post-harvesting: When all the strawberries have been picked, the entire hydroponics system needs to be refurbished for the next fruiting cycle.