Strawberries are one of the most delectable fruits out there and also, one of the fruits that are easier to harvest through hydroponics. So, here we have some tips on what to look out for when raising your very own strawberries. First and foremost, contrary to popular gardening beliefs, strawberries are increased by their “runners” which are stems that grow horizontally, and not their seeds. So, it would be good to keep a lookout for those in the gardening stores. They are usually in stock all year round and if not, they have the highest stock in the late winter or early spring. Those would be the good times to get your hands on some runners.
Duration of Light and Pollination Requirements for Strawberries
Given the nature of strawberries, they are capable of surviving through periods of shorter light durations. In fact, they benefit the most from these types of environments. This requirement is probably one of the reasons why we say strawberries are not as tedious as one would think. All they need are a dash of sunlight for 8 – 12 hours and their quota would be fulfilled. Furthermore, they need not be done at a specific hour, eliminating the hassle of keeping track round the clock. What would require more effort, however, is the pollination process. Unlike in the open, insects like bees, wind, or butterflies play the role of transferring pollen from the male flower to the female one. Indoors, you are the one who has to fill up that role by occasionally brushing your hands across the flowers in order for pollen transference and allowing pollination to happen.
Ideal Temperature Requirements for Strawberries
Strawberries are as fickle as they are eyecatching. They prefer temperatures that are cool to warm and lie in the range of 60 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. There are even cases where the optimal daytime temperature is documented to be in the low 60s and the nighttime temperature to be below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Strawberries are also keen about the hibernation phase and can do so for any period between 2 – 5 months. When that happens, you can store your plants in plastics securely if the winter in your home country is not very low. otherwise, most times strawberries can thrive in the natural climate as well.
Nutrient Requirements for Strawberries
Usually, your local garden store would already have solutions that are prepped and ready for use in the hydroponics system. However, it would also be good to know the kind of minerals that are added to the solution. There are both essential nutrients and trace elements that are fundamental to the good growth of your strawberries.
Essential Nutrients: Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus (NPK).
Trace Elements: Iron, Manganese, Copper, Molybdenum, Cobalt, Zinc, and Chlorine.
EC & PH Levels Requirement for Strawberries
Not only do you need to keep track of the proper nutrients in your solutions, but you also have to monitor the pH level of your solution as there is an optimal range for strawberries to gain the most nutrients. The range is usually 5.8 – 6.2. If you find your solution leaning towards the alkaline end, you can add in some potassium hydroxide. If it’s too acidic, simply add in phosphoric acid. So, don’t worry even if it’s not within the range because you can definitely make adjustments to it. Next, another important component for the solution mixture is its electrical conductivity (EC) levels. This will directly affect the health of your strawberries. As with the pH level, there is also an ideal EC range for strawberries which, in the case of hydroponics, are typically between 1.4 – 3.0 deciSiemens/cm (dS/cm). The nature of its electrical conductivity is a result of the mineral salts in the solution, so if the EC levels exceed the recommended levels, you can balance it out with fresh water.
Three Varieties of Strawberries
Now that we know what are the important requirements that we should look out for, you need to be sure of the kind of strawberries that you have on hand. There are three kinds of strawberries: short day, day-neutral, and everbearing. The main differences among them are their harvesting periods. For the short day, like its name, grow best during the short days of winter. However, because of that they also only produce the main bulk of the harvest once per year. Some of the types of strawberries that fall under this category are Benton, Allstar, and Annapolis. As for day-neutral varieties, they are more versatile and can bear fruit throughout the year and are generally less affected by the change in environmental factors like light and temperature. This makes the variety the more popular option for growing in greenhouses and hydro gardens because they are less susceptible to changes and adapt easier. Some of the types of strawberries that fall under this segment are Seascape, Quinault, and Hecker. Last but not least are the everbearing strawberries. Day neutrals were adapted from these. Compared to short days, everbearing strawberries have more harvesting periods but they still lose out when compared to day neutrals. Some of these types of strawberries are Picnic, Albion, and Laramie.
Method to Hydrogardening Strawberries
Up to this point, we know what to look out for and the variants of strawberries that are available. Now, here are some tips for the hydroponics beginner to start growing strawberries. In order to grow them, we recommend the wicking system because it is simple enough for beginners to get used to hydroponics and it does not require any complicated equipment like water pumps or irrigation setups. All you would need for this system are a tub, growing container, and wicks to do up the containment area. Hence, if you are looking for the most simple method to get yourself started, try the wicking system!
Thus, if you are a budding hydro farmer, strawberries are a good crop to be looking at due to its popularity with consumers and ease for farming. Don’t be afraid to take chances and just try it out first!