Hydroponic Strawberries – Top Tips for Best Fruit and Yields
Strawberries are among the most popular and sought after fruits. But can you grow strawberries hydroponically? The short answer is – yes. Here is a look at what’s involved in producing top class strawberries using a hydroponic growing system.
In fact, strawberries grow exceedingly well in hydroponic systems, growing rapidly and typically producing around 1.5 Kgs of fruit per plant. The quality of the fruit is also better when grown hydroponically, being larger in size and also juicier. Another benefit is the fact that strawberries can be grown and harvested year round with a hydroponic system irrespective of the climate outside.
How to grow strawberries hydroponically
If grown from seed, strawberries need around two to three years to start fruiting. This can be avoided by purchasing strawberry ‘plugs’. These are basically just runners from a strawberry plant which already have the root system developed. They can be purchased online from HYDROPONIC SUPPLIES or horticultural suppliers.
Once the first batch is established you will have a continual supply of new runners to enlarge your crop. Start by planting the strawberry ‘plugs’ and this should provide you with flowering strawberry plants within about three weeks.
Which kind of strawberry ‘plug’ is best?
There are basically three types you should consider initially. These are:
- Day neutral
These three varieties will produce good sized berries and also an abundance of runners of good length. The ever-bearing variety can produce three crops per year, if a short resting period is allowed for between harvests. The day neutral variety, once they begin fruiting, will continue to flower year round, giving you a supply of fresh strawberries at all times.
Optimal growing conditions
In order to achieve the maximum growth potential and yield from strawberry plants, the following factors should be considered in relation to the growing environment:
- Nutrient solution should have a pH level of between 5.5 and 6.0 for optimal results. pH levels should be tested weekly with a pH testing kit in order to maintain the correct balance.
- EC (Electrical Conductivity) levels should be maintained around 1.6 – 1.8. This can be checked using an EC pen to take readings, and the reservoir and runoff should both be checked at the same time on a regular basis.
- The reservoir temperature, where the nutrient solution is stored, should be maintained between 18°C and 22°C.
- A lighting cycle of 14 hours is recommended. This is best controlled through the use of a simple and inexpensive digital timer to regulate the lighting cycle.
- Low humidity produces the best results. This can be controlled using a simple fan to provide constant air movement, and installing a simple dehumidifier. Excess humidity can lead to powdery mildew and other problems which can affect your crop.
With a little care and attention, you can enjoy year-round fresh, luscious strawberries when grown hydroponically.