This is the first of the hydroponic strawberry systems I am trying this year, I don’t really know much about growing strawberries but I will be giving it my best shot.
This system I have set up with a HydroGarden Dual Flow NFT Kit which I purchased last year.
This is a unique kit as the tank can be used as either a NFT system where nutrients are simply pumped in one end and then flow back out the other end, or by moving a few included parts around and adding an extra electrical timer you can use it as an Ebb and Flood system where the nutrients are pumped from the underneath tank to the top channel where the things growing are flooded with nutrients for a while and then when the pump is turned off the nutrients slowly drain back into the nutrient tank below. Hence the Ebb and Flood description.
As you can see from the pictures, I have several net pots filled with clay pebbles which are then placed on the top channel which is flooded every hour. This allows the clay pebbles to take on some of the nutrients which is then taken up by the plants resting in the clay pebbles. In this case my strawberries, these are placed into the pots with the crowns out of the clay pebbles as these are supposed to be kept dry.
Usually in hydroponic kits these pots are held in place by something called correx, I’ve found this to be ok but after a year of use it becomes too flexible and has lost all it’s strength so doesn’t work as well. This year I decided to try some other material.
The white plastic you can see on the picture surrounding the pots, Is actually PVCu plastic sheets normally used for surrounding showers or bathroom walls. It’s slightly more expensive than the correx but hopefully with the extra strength it will last quite a few years. It has added strength compared with the correx because the ridges within the plastic go across the tank rather than all the length of the plastic tanks. I’ve cut the pieces into several sections too which also means that I can remove parts of the cover if I want rather than the the whole top plate, And due to it having some form of tongue and groove ends it all clips nicely together. It also has the extra benefit of being easier to store at the end of the year.
I’ve had to adjust the HydroGarden system slightly by adding an extra bit of white plastic tube where the nutrients overflow when flooding as it didn’t quite allow enough of a flood to the pots.
The strawberry plants are now in place and have had the clay pebbles covered with black plastic to stop any algae growing on the pebbles. These covers are made from squares of pond liner which I simply clean and sterilize each year.
The strawberry plant as it arrives, Looking a little shrivelled and depressed ready for it’s new home.
The plant after a week in it’s flood and drain home.
I will post an update on how all the strawberries are doing in a month or two but as you can see from the two photo’s above taken before planting and after a week they are already doing well.