Hydroponic Strawberry Production Grown Without Soil
Hydroponic Strawberry Production. Growing strawberries hydroponically can be a productive, healthy, and entertaining new way to grow one of your favorite berries at home. Hydroponics may sound like an overly complicated gardening method to you, but it can actually be very straightforward!
There are many reasons why you might want to try this method of growing, and getting started is simpler than you might think. After discussing all of this, we’ll go over step-by-step instructions for growing hydroponically grown strawberries. Let’s get started because we have a lot to discuss.
image of Hydroponic Strawberry Production
Why Grow Strawberries in Hydroponics?
There are many benefits to considering this method of growing, regardless of whether you have experience growing strawberries in soil or are a total beginner.
Here is a brief introduction to hydroponics if you are not familiar with it.
There is no soil involved in this method of growing. Instead, the roots of the plant are secured in place using an inert medium. Depending on what you’re growing, the root system is directly exposed to water or a nutrient solution as it grows through this medium.
What benefits can growing strawberries hydroponically offer then?
You won’t have to deal with any soil-based pests because there isn’t any soil there. Your job as the grower is greatly simplified as a result. Additionally, strawberry plants grown hydroponically are less vulnerable to flying pests.
You might believe that since there is always water available, you end up using more water. Since you circulate the water rather than giving the plants fresh water all the time, hydroponics is actually more water-efficient.
You’ll be happy to know that strawberries grown hydroponically can be stacked vertically if you’re short on space. More plants grow per square foot of space as a result. Additionally, picking strawberries from the fruit is much simpler than digging them out of the ground.
There are many other advantages to hydroponics. You should definitely give it a try.
What’s the catch, you might be asking, with all these advantages?
The few disadvantages of hydroponically growing are minimal. The initial setup expense is the main one. Growing in soil can be less expensive than using hydroponic systems. However, because you can grow more strawberries this way through vertical growing, these systems frequently pay for themselves over time in terms of efficiency and long-term yields.
The hydroponics learning curve is another disadvantage of this type of gardening. Compared to traditional soil gardening, it is initially a little trickier, but once you get the hang of it, this is no longer a problem.
The last thing to keep in mind about strawberry hydroponics is that they will produce slightly fewer berries per plant than soil-based systems. However, if your system is indoors where the weather is predictable, you can grow a greater amount of berries overall, so the initial loss per plant can be easily recovered. Additionally, you’re growing much more effectively!
What you’ll require in order to begin
Obviously, choosing a good hydroponic system is the first step. Price, plant count, and performance of these all vary greatly. Therefore, you must exercise due diligence when buying your system.
Stick with an ebb-and-flow, deep water culture (DWC), or hydroponic drip system when first starting out. You can create your own system, but there are many awesome ones that are already built and ready to use.
Budget growers can get started quickly and for a small portion of the cost of a typical system by using a garden tray, reservoir, water pump, and a few other auxiliary hydro components.
The actual construction of the system is fairly simple. The only thing left to do is to set up your water reservoir beneath the tray, which is where your plants will grow. Then, configure your pump and timer to transfer water from the reservoir into your grow tray, feeding and watering your berries as needed.
You should also think about the growing media you’ll employ. Growstones, clay pebbles, coconut coir, or rockwool are a few popular options. There are also many other growing media platforms available.
Additionally, you’ll likely need some hydroponic nutrients to feed your plants properly and encourage their maximum growth. But as the grower, you have complete control over this.
Hydroponic strawberry farming
With a better understanding of the materials you’ll need, let’s move on to the exciting task of growing your hydroponic strawberries.
Whether you’ve experimented with hydroponics before or are a total beginner, we’ll go over everything you need to know, so by the end of this section, you’ll feel comfortable.
You must choose whether you want to grow from seeds or from starts before you can begin. This is a much slower option because strawberry seeds can take years to mature.
Instead, you can buy some young strawberry plants and place them in your hydroponic system without using net pots or a medium of your choosing. After thoroughly washing the soil from your plant’s root system and inserting it into the partially filled net pots, you can fill the remaining portion to secure it in place. Water it thoroughly right away.
Temperature & Light
When growing strawberries hydroponically, you’ll frequently be in a climate-controlled space. For your berries to flourish, you must create the ideal lighting and temperature conditions.
The ideal temperature range for strawberries is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You must ensure that your strawberries receive between 8 and 12 hours of light each day from a lighting perspective. Contrary to some plants, they don’t require different lighting patterns over the course of their lifespan. They can remain on this photoperiod indefinitely.
Your plants will get natural light if you are growing in a greenhouse. If not, you will have to include extra grow lights to give them what they’ll need.
Quality of Water and pH Levels
pH levels and water quality are crucial factors in hydroponics. There is little margin for error because your roots are directly exposed to the water.
To make sure you aren’t giving your strawberries harmful chloramines or other impurities frequently found in tap water, we strongly advise using a water filter.
You must ensure that your pH is within the proper range. Make sure your water’s pH is between 5.8 and 6.2 using a pH meter. Your plants will suffer if you extend below or above this range due to nutrient problems.
There are many different hydroponic growing mediums available, and they all essentially accomplish the same thing. However, we advise sticking with something simple and accessible, like coco coir.
Your strawberries’ pH or nutritional value won’t be affected by coco, which is completely inert. It is inexpensive, widely accessible, and very beginner-friendly. To improve aeration and water drainage, you might want to add some perlite.
Hydroponically grown strawberries require some sort of nutrient solution to keep them alive, whether you are growing organically or not. Together with secondary and micronutrients, your strawberries require a lot of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.
Nutrients in liquid form must be used. It’s simpler for beginners to begin with synthetics and advance from there because organics have a tendency to clump and clog hydroponic systems. General Hydroponics Nutrients is one of our favorite product lines. These have simple-to-follow feeding schedules so you always know how much and when to feed your strawberry plants. They are affordable, of the highest quality, and suitable for beginners.
You should pollinate your strawberries if you want to cross-breed specific strawberry varieties. Furthermore, you might need to pollinate your plants in order to produce fruit since pollinating insects like bees may not have access to your plants.
Due to the fact that hydroponic systems are an indoor growing method, you’ll need to locate a source of helpful insects like bees to assist in pollinating your strawberries.
By hand, pollination is simple. Since strawberry plants are hermaphrodites, neither male nor female flowers are necessary. Use a cotton swab to transfer pollen from one flower to another, then proceed to pollinate all of your plants using the same swab. If you have a lot of plants to pollinate, this can get tedious, but it’s easy and very efficient.
You won’t need to do this if your hydroponic setup is outdoors and you have access to pollinating insects to produce fruit. To ensure good fruit development, anyone who grows indoors will want to hand-pollinate.
Pruning off runners, also known as stolons, will help your strawberries continue to grow healthily and produce abundantly. Strawberry runners are leafless stems that grow from the plant, occasionally with the tip developing into a new plant. As close to the plant’s base as you can, cut these off. You can use the plantlet that has developed at the end of the runner for propagation!
Typically, strawberry plants are multiplied by seeds or the plantlets that form at the tips of their stolons.
You must purchase seed from a reputable seed supplier in order to start from scratch. While it is possible to save seed from your previous year’s berries, if the plant is a hybrid, the seed might not breed true. Indoors, sow your seed in potting soil, and watch as it grows into a small plant. Keep it warm, moist, and well-lit to encourage the growth of the young plant.
Take your cuttings from plantlets and spread them over moistened potting soil. Secure the plantlet’s base to the soil and maintain its warmth and moisture. Also, give these some light. The extending runner stem can be cut once the roots have developed more quickly.
Wait until the plant has at least two inches (or more) of roots before transplanting seedlings or plantlets. After that, you can carefully unpot them. The majority of the soil should be brushed off, and any soil that is still adhered to the strawberry roots should be washed away with water. Once planted, these can be added to your growing medium.
Most of the issues new strawberry growers encounter can be prevented if you take the steps we’ve outlined above.
Nevertheless, no matter how cautious and diligent you are, there is still a possibility that you will encounter problems. Let’s discuss those that might come up.
You’ll most likely encounter nutritional deficiencies and pH imbalances as growing issues. Underfeeding, overfeeding, a pH that is too low or too high, and so forth can all contribute to this.
It is your responsibility as the grower to correctly identify this problem. For any gardener who wants to grow the best plants possible, keeping a thorough journal on what you are doing, what you are seeing, and what steps you take to fix each problem is essential.
Make sure the nutrient levels in your solution are appropriate for your strawberry plants. If the nutrient solution you’re using is too strong, you should probably add more water to dilute it. Ask your hydroponics supplier what nutrient solution choices they have that are best for the production of strawberries and other fruits.
Timing is crucial. By feeding at the wrong time, you risk upsetting the pH, nutrient, and water balance. As a result, your strawberries might suffer. Keep a pH meter close by and monitor your levels frequently.
You should be able to quickly address issues if you carefully follow your feeding schedule, keep an eye out for problems, and take appropriate action.
You won’t encounter many of the insects that can be found in conventional soil gardens when you grow indoors. Additionally, hydroponically growing further reduces the possibility of pests and diseases.
However, there is always a chance that something will get into your garden, in which case you must take immediate action. The following pests and diseases can affect strawberry plants:
Thrips, gnats, and mites (spider mites)
Neem oil can be sprayed on your plant’s surfaces to take care of the majority of these problems. Use an organic pyrethrin-based spray to eliminate the issue if it continues.
Most worries about root rot are eliminated when strawberry plants are grown hydroponically. You simply don’t experience fungal rots because there isn’t any soil for them to grow in.
However, some diseases may still manifest themselves above the growing medium. These can be handled in a variety of ways.
Fruit can still develop two types of rot: Rhizopus rot and Mucor fruit rot. Both of these are frequently found on ripe or overripe strawberries, and they will appear in the warm conditions that your plants thrive in. Pick fruit as soon as it ripens to lessen the likelihood of these.
Fruit and flowers may be impacted by Botrytis cinerea. This fungus, also known as grey mold, can surprisingly easily enter greenhouses or garages. For small-scale infestations, use neem oil, and for larger ones, a copper-based fungicide.
Another spore-based disease that affects strawberries is powdery mildew. You can treat this with neem oil or a copper-based fungicidal spray, just like botrytis.
FAQ Hydroponic Strawberry Production
How long does it take for strawberries to grow in hydroponics?
Usually, they will be ready about 4 weeks after the first flowers open. You can feel the consistency between hard and soft, and look for a consistent red color throughout the berry.
Do strawberries grow well in hydroponics?
Due to their high water content, strawberries are excellent hydroponic growing. Using this method, you can grow them anywhere from your garage to your kitchen – there are very few limitations.
How to grow strawberries hydroponically?
Planting Techniques Instead, you can find some young strawberry plants and plant them directly into your hydroponic system using the medium of your choice and a mesh pot. Partially fill the netting pot, tack your plant after rinsing all the soil from its root system, then fill the rest of the way to hold it in place.
How often can you harvest hydroponic strawberries?
Each plant will produce about 5-10 strawberries per week and will continue to do so for months. Once roots grow too long for a hydroponic system, growth and yield will slow down. Older plants need to be replaced with younger ones.
What is the yield of one strawberry plant?
First, each strawberry plant will typically produce about a liter of strawberries per year. Varieties such as Ozark Beauty (an everbearer) will produce two main crops and a few scattered berries throughout the year. When added together, they will usually make up about a quarter of the total production.
Why are my hydroponic strawberries dead?
Strawberries do best in water that has a pH of 5.8 to 6.2, and a solution that strays too far from ideal can result in the plant dying or being unproductive. If the pH drops below 5.8, it can be adjusted up by adding potassium hydroxide. If it’s too high, a little phosphoric acid will lower it back down.
Do hydroponic strawberries taste any different?
Since there is no possibility of drought stress in hydroponic cultivation, hydroponically grown strawberries are a richer source of vitamin C. And because ascorbic acid is one of the natural compounds that makes strawberries sour, hydroponically grown strawberries have a more naturally sour taste.
What nutrients do hydroponic strawberries need?
Your nutritional solution should provide the plant with plenty of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Micronutrients needed by strawberries include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Also required are small amounts of chlorine, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.
Do you need to hydroponically pollinate strawberries?
Hydroponic Strawberry Pollination. Strawberry flowers need to be pollinated. Uneven pollination usually results in amorphous fruit (Fig. 1).
Which strawberries are best for hydroponics?
If you prefer Ever-bearing, we recommend this variety for hydroponics: Ozark Beauty: very juicy and tastes great. Ft. Laramie: good harvest, good taste, slightly smaller fruit.
What is the best pH for hydroponic strawberries?
5.5-6.0 pH (5.5-6.0). The pH of the nutrient solution should be in the range (5.5 – 6.0). When the pH of the root zone (or drainage solution) exceeds 7.0, young leaves turn yellow-green, a typical symptom of iron deficiency, which limits overall plant growth.
Do hydroponic strawberries use pesticides?
Soil-borne pests are not a problem for hydroponic strawberries, as there is no soil to harbor these pests. Therefore, hydroponic strawberries do not require pesticides. Consumers usually prefer pesticide-free fruit. Likewise hydroponic strawberries do not have to compete with weed plants that may grow in the soil.
What is the Net Pot Size for Strawberries?
Strawberries are best grown in clean two-inch to four-inch pots depending on the berry variety.
What pH do strawberries prefer?
between 5.4 and 6.5 Although strawberries are tolerant of soil acidity, it may be necessary to apply lime to raise the soil pH. The ideal soil pH for strawberries is between 5.4 and 6.5.
How many strawberry plants do I need?
For fresh consumption, I recommend growing six to seven strawberry plants per person. That means 24 to 28 strawberry plants that are well cared for will easily feed a family of 4. A voracious strawberry eater may want at least 10 plants per person.