Not only are hydroponic strawberries colorful and tasty, but they are also good for you. Hydroponic strawberries are filled with polyphenols, powerful antioxidants, as well as fiber and vitamins.
They can protect you from cancer and increase your HDL (good cholesterol) as well as lower your blood pressure. Anthropologists have learned that strawberries were used medicinally as far back as Roman times, and were first cultivated on purpose in France in the 1400s.
Strawberries are the perfect berry to grow hydroponically, which means grown without soil.
What is significant about hydroponic strawberries?
There are several interesting facts about the strawberry that highlight its varied past. The strawberry was mentioned as far back as Virgil and Ovid in ancient Roman times, but only as a decoration and not as a food. Strawberries, a member of the rose family, have been cross-pollinated for centuries, and legend has it that a French spy even smuggled a Chilean strawberry.
Strawberries are seen as a sign of rebirth, and the only fruit to have its seeds on the outside. From the American Indians to Shakespeare, there are countless references to strawberries and their symbolism and uses. History has proven they are easy to grow and perfect for a hydroponic system.
What are the most popular hydroponic garden systems?
There are various hydroponic garden systems that can grow plants in water. Depending on your budget, you can buy an extravagant system already set up for several thousand dollars, or you can do it yourself for under a hundred dollars.
Strawberries will grow in any system because they are light and able to spread out easily. Popular systems for hydroponic gardens include DWC, NFT, and the ebb and flow system.
- With a styrofoam raft that floats on top of the nutrient-laden water, the deep water culture system (DWC) uses an air pump to disperse bubbles throughout the system. You can also make this yourself in a gallon bucket.
- In the nutrient film technique system (NFT), water containing nutrients is pumped through channels while the roots of the plants are dangling in baskets. Because the channels are tilted inward, the water easily recirculates.
- The flood and drain technique, or ebb and flow system, does just what it promises. After the tray is flooded the water recedes back into the reservoir. You can use many different grow mediums such as gravel or pellets, and the ebb and flow grow a wide variety of plants.
How do I get started?
Hydroponic strawberries can grow in almost any hydroponic system type, but an ebb and flow or deep water culture system would be best. This will allow the strawberries the room they need to spread out, as well as the nutrient-laden water that will help them grow. You will set a timer for your ebb and flow system to drain the reservoir before it floods again, covering the roots with nutrients.
Using cuttings in your system
The best way to grow strawberries hydroponically is to start with cuttings from previous strawberry plants. Normally in a hydroponic system, you germinate seeds first and then transplant them into the hydroponic system. But If you try to grow strawberries from seed, it can take up to 3 years to get viable berries.
In order to grow cuttings, you just need to place the strawberry cutting into the net pot with an appropriate medium and place them into the system. Coco coir is a good growing medium for strawberries. Make sure you allow enough room for the blossoming berries to cascade over the sides of your system.
With hydroponic strawberries, you are in luck! The strawberries will grow three times in a single year if you choose an ever-bearing variety. Some of the best varieties of ever-bearing plants include Douglas, Tioga, Brighton, and Red Gauntlet. These will not only offer you sweet, delectable fruit, but will also give you triple the harvest of outside garden berries each year.
Basics of daily care
Although hydroponic strawberries are relatively easy to grow, there are still some tricks of the trade. Hydroponic strawberries grow best in temperatures of 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and moderate humidity. If they get too humid they can develop mold and mildew, which could ruin your crop.
Strawberries require 8-12 hours of light a day and will grow well with fluorescent lighting or LED lighting, both of which can be relatively inexpensive for you. Strawberries require darkness as well as light, however, in order to complete their photosynthesis, so make sure to give them 6 hours of dark each day to fulfill the entire process.
Your strawberries will require nutrients. Primarily, they need potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. They also have secondary needs for calcium and magnesium. They will acquire the nutrients through their roots in the water-filled reservoir, and there are many nutrient system brands on the market that you can use.
How to harvest
Harvesting hydroponic strawberries occur more quickly than it would in an outdoor garden. The strawberries will take only about 4 weeks to grow after the first flower appears. When the berries are a consistent bright bright red color without any green or white, carefully pick the berries without pulling the whole plant out of the net pot. You might have better results if you gently hold the stem and vine while you harvest them. When they are perfectly ripe, they make a satisfying popping sound when you pick them.
Post-harvest, the berries are fragile and should be eaten as soon as possible. They could be refrigerated for a day or two but would taste much fresher and retain more of their nutrients if you eat them immediately
Strawberries are a healthy choice for your diet that is very easy to grow hydroponically. By keeping an eye on the temperature, light, and nutrients you feed your plants, you will soon be harvesting delicious berries to top your cereals and fruit salads. Although strawberries may not be typically used for medicinal purposes today, they taste as delicious as they have for thousands of years.