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Growing Hydroponic Strawberries. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 21 October 2016 20:36

 Growing Hydroponic Strawberries.

 

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If you want to see how to build a system to grow hydroponic strawberries, Click Here!Everyone loves strawberries and we love them so much that we should all start growing hydroponic strawberries ourselves instead buying them at the market. Also if you need another reason to start growing hydroponic strawberries, they taste delicious with chocolate.

 

History of the Strawberry.

 

Did you know that the earliest record of strawberries was found in 200 BC Rome? Back then the strawberries were used for medicinal reasons. A 12th Century Saint claimed them to be unfit to be eaten because they lay on the ground where the serpents and toads lived. He was missing out and probably died very unhappy.Now for us Hydro lovers, here is the good news. Strawberries love hydroponics and will grow quickly giving you about 3 lbs of fruit per plant. Also they are larger and juiciest then if you were to grow them in dirt. Strawberries also can be harvested all year-long. Do I have your attention yet? Don’t close the page here and go to amazon to buy your strawberry seeds quite yet. If you start them from seed, you will be waiting about 3 years for your first taste of this amazing fruit.

 

 

So how do I start Growing Hydroponic Strawberries.

 

Well like I said, strawberries will take 2-3 years to start putting off fruit if you grow them from seed. The way to get past all of this so you can start picking fresh strawberries sooner is by buying “plugs.” Plugs are just a rooted runner from the strawberry plant and you can find these in mail order catalogs or online. If you buy strawberry plants bare root, then you are asking for trouble in your system because you don’t know where that dirty strawberry has been.Once you have your plugs established, they should put out their own runners and you can start more plants from them. Once they are rooted, you should be able to get fresh strawberry flowers in just a couple of weeks.

 

 

What to look for when picking out your strawberries

 

.Now before you buy any old strawberry starters, you need to consider that there are more than one kind of strawberry out there, and you want the variety that gives you the most bang for your buck. The three types of berries you need to consider are June-bearing, ever-bearing and day neutral. June-bearing will give you very large berries once a year and put out some very long runners. Ever-bearing will give you 3 crops a year with a resting period in between fruiting. Day Neutral are what I would prefer to use because once they start giving fruit, they will continue to flower. This way you can pick fresh strawberries year round.

 

 

Some verities of Day Neutral Strawberries.

 

Seascape: popular; firm, good-sized fruit with nice flavor.

Quinalt: self-pollinating; 2” wide berries with 4-5 month harvest.

Tribute: fruits spring through fall; medium to large berries.

Mara de bois: productive; firm, good-sized fruit with outstanding flavor.

 

 

June-bearing Strawberry VarietiesHoneoye:

 

heavy yields of gorgeous big berries excellent for freezing.

Jewel: huge berries with exquisite flavor high in sugar content.

Earliglow: fast to flower and fruit; great flavor, size, color and juiciness.

Ever-bearing Strawberry VarietiesOzark Beauty:

 

prolific harvest of very juicy berries with good flavor.

Ft. Laramie: a bit smaller fruit with good harvest and superior taste.

Now that I have picked out my Strawberries,

 

what conditions do they like the best?-

 

pH level of 5.5-6.0 for best results

-1.6 to 1.8 EC (around 800-900 PPM)

-65-72 degree F for your reservoir temp

-14 hrs light cycle

-low humidity

-harvest 12 months per year

-Love to have fruit hanging

 

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    Building a Hydroponic NFT system is pretty simple if you have the tools and parts to put it together. I decided that I wanted to take advantage of the summer and do some hydroponic gardening outdoors. I decided a NFT system would be the best for growing a lot of plants fast and efficiently. Also I wanted something small enough to move around myself and I also wanted it to be able to be broken down easily for winter storage and cleaning. This is the system I came up with and everything was under $150.00 total.

 

    Materials used

    1 x Folding Trellis

    2 x 2? x10 foot PVC

    8 x 2? PVC Hanger

    2? PVC end cap

    8 x 5/8? Rubber Grommet

    50 x 1.75? Net Pots

    10 feet of 1/2? black hose

    1 x 3/4? PVC Ball Valve

    2 x Barb Poly Insert

    1 x Submersible Pump

    Reservoir of your choice

 

    Tools needed

    Drill

    1.75? Drill Bit

    3/4? Drill bit

    Hot glue gun and glue

    Electrical Tape

    Hand Saw for cutting PVC.

 

    Step oneFirst step on how to build a hydroponic NFT

 

    Attach hooks to the trellis.

    If you have all your tools and part ready, the first step is to attach your 2? PVC hooks to the folding trellis. The PVC hooks come with the screws needed to attach them. As you can see in this picture, I had to cut the hooks down to get them to sit flush with the trellis. Cut off the top couple notches on the hooks and attache to the outer sides of your trellis starting at the top and working your way down.

 

     

 

    IMG_3509Step two on how to build a hydroponic NFT

 

    Cut PVC down to 4? lengths and drill holes for net pots

    So now we are to the part where we cut the PVC down to fit the trellis. I decided that an even 4 foot cut would fit perfect without hanging over the edges too far and giving it a clean look. I used the hand saw to make the cuts as clean as possible. After getting your 4 foot sections, you then have to decide where to drill your holes for the net pots. I marked mine every foot, but after a couple weeks of growing, I would now drill a hold every 6 inches. This will give you enough room for your plants to grow out and also so you can maximize your systems capabilities.

 

    IMG_3535Step three on how to build a hydroponic NFT

 

    Making the end caps for the NFT

    So making the end caps and attaching them is kind of tricky. The rubber grommets tend to be a little leaky and so do the end caps. You can use whatever you like to attache the caps but it is recommended to use an adhesive or sealant that is food grade safe. I used hot glue to get the system up and running and may go back to use something that is a little more permanent. First thing you have to do is drill a 3/4? hole on each of your end caps. Now measure the width of the grommet and make sure you drill far enough away for the side that the grommet will sit tight in the hold without hitting the lip of the cap. You want to offset the hole so that your water entering the system it higher then the water draining out of the PVC. You have to realize that the lower to the bottom of the cap you drill, the lower the water height will be in the PVC as it travels though the system. You want the water to drain out at the end and not sit in the PVC like a DWC system as much as possible. Try to keep the water flowing.

    After you get your hole drilled and grommet inserted, clean the PVC and the cap and place a ring of glue or sealant on the inside of the cap. Push the cap in and let it dry and make sure you take note of what cap goes where. You want the exit to be lower remember. Each run of PVC will have a cap with grommet on top of the cap and one at the bottom of the cap.  Wait for the glue or sealant to dry completely.

 

 

 

IMG_3536Step four on how to build a hydroponic NFT.

 

 

    Attaching the hose and get the water flowing.

    First you have to put the PVC rails up on the trellis if you have not done that already. Then next you want to cut four sections of hose about 12 inches long.  Place the hose in each of the grommets that will come from the exit to the entrance of the rails. If you are finding that the hose does not sit in the grommet snug enough to keep water from dripping, wrap a couple layers of your electrical tape around the hos to make it a little larger to fill in the space. I wanted a nice snug fit so I wrapped some tape around the hose about 5 times to snug it up a little.  That last section of hose will go from the last rail into your reservoir so depending on where you want to place it, this piece may need to be longer then the 12 inches. Also by not gluing the hoses in place you are keeping your system easy to break down for winter or to clean it out. This was a must for me living in a state that gets a lot of snow in the winter.

    Now you are left with a piece of hose about 5-6 feet long that you will use to run the water from your reservoir to your top rail. cut about 4 inches off this section of hose and attach that small piece to your pump. First take the 2 Barb Poly inserts and attach them to the ball valve.  Next you will attach your 3/4? PVC ball valve to the other end of that 4 inch section of hose using the barb insert. Then at the other side of the ball valve goes the last 5 or so feet of hose that you will run into your top rail. The pump will send more water then you want up to that first rail, so you need to regulate it with this ball valve keeping a nice slow stream of water. You don’t want it to pump the water faster then it can drain out or you will get a huge mess of overflow.

    Everything goes in the reservoir and if you can drill some more holes in the top of the reservoir to allow the hoses to go in and out without pinching, you will help keep the light out of the reservoir that will keep down algae growth. Plus this will clean it up and keep everything nice and flowing as planned. Plug in the pump with some water in the reservoir and check for leaks.

    In the picture you can see the return line also in the reservoir to complete the water’s cycle. I suggest you run clean water and hydrogen peroxide through the system the first couple hrs to kill off anything that may be lurking around. After doing that and checking for leaks, you should be able to start growing.

    If you can add an airstone to your reservoir it will help. I don’t know if it is needed with all the water flowing as much as it is, but if you have extra in your budget, I would add one for extra oxygenation.

 

Next How To Grow:- Spinach

 

Back to How To Vegetables

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 30 December 2016 16:54
 

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