One of the first things you learn about strawberry growing is that they hate wet feet, so, it's peculiar when you first hear about growing hydroponic strawberries! Hydroponics from the Greek words hydro (water) and ponos (labor) is the science of growing plants without soil. Nutrients that plants usually get from soil are added to water.
Commercial growers were the forerunners in hydroponic strawberry growing, but with an increase in the availability of home hydroponic systems, the decline of summer doesn't have to mean the end of fresh strawberries. Besides extending the growing season, there are several advantages to growing strawberries hydroponically.
All of these elements combine to allow the hydroponic gardener to achieve optimal production all year long!
A day-neutral strawberry is the best cultivar for hydroponic strawberry growing. Instead of discarding runners from your strawberry patch, keep those from your healthiest plants. Insert the roots into an inert growing medium such as perlite, coconut fiber or Rockwell. Alternatively, you can purchase starter plugs wherever hydroponics supplies are sold. Cover your transplants with a clear plastic dome to keep humidity levels high. Keep your cuttings out of direct sunlight until roots are established.
Next, you will need to simulate a winter for your new seedlings. Dip roots (or plugs) in microbial solution, gently wrap them in clear plastic and refrigerate them for two to five months. After this winter rest period, your transplants are ready to be added to your hydroponic system.
If possible, grow your hydroponic strawberries in a glassed in porch or green house. However, indoor garden lighting also provides them with the six to seven hours of full spectrum sunlight they need each day. Keep temperatures in a range from 64 to 77F (18 to 25C) for best results.
Nourish your strawberry plants with a commercially prepared organic hydroponic preparation. Although pH should be maintained between 5.8 and 6.2, in lieu of constant testing, changing your solution twice a month typically works as well.
Since you won't be able to depend on honeybees to pollinate your blossoms, you need to hand pollinate. Simply brush the blossoms just after they open, transferring some of the pollen from the stamens to the pistils. Also, use an oscillating fan to help accomplish pollination.
Your hydroponically grown strawberries will bear plump, sweet fruits. As an added benefit, there'll be no need to stoop over to pick them! You'll harvest them standing up. Peculiar as it may seem hydroponic growing in your hobby greenhouse may turn out to be the method of strawberry growing that you prefer!