The NFT (Nutrient Film Technology) Strawberry Tank

The NFT Strawberry Hydroponic System showing the places for all the clay pebble filled potsThis is the third Hydroponic system I’ve setup this year for growing Strawberries, This time  I attempted to grow them in a NFT system. I understand from reading other peoples articles and information on the web that NFT was not the ideal hydroponic method for growing strawberries but I thought I would give it another try.

As you can see if you have a read half way down this previous post Our new Cedar Alton Greenhouse – 2007 I have previous attempted this, with unsuccessful results.

The underneath of the Hydroponic NFT Strawberry system showing the matting in the channelAnyway, The plan this time was to start the tank with the nutrient solution pumping around the system and be stable. Then to make holes in the plastic cover sheet and place pots with clay pebbles in like the other systems. I did this for a day to see what happens, And surprise surprise the clay pebbles were completely dry . I’m not quite sure why I thought that the nutrients would be able to jump from thin flow of nutrient solution being pumped around into the clay pebbles. If there was a lot more of a flow maybe this would have helped but the nutrient pumps do not create that amount of flow.

The NFT Strawberry pots with clay pebbles and wicking materialI then had the bright idea of using some capillary matting to try and get the nutrients to be wicked up into the clay pebbles, I placed two wicks made up of matting into each pot filled with clay pebbles. I thought perhaps the nutrients would be taken up enough to be able to keep the clay pebbles full of nutrients. After setting this up I placed one strawberry plant in one of the pot’s and left the system running for a couple of days.

When I came back the pebbles were bone dry and the strawberry runner was not showing any sign of being alive.

It appears like the clay pebbles either need to be submerged within the nutrient solution to soak it up or drip fed from above, I may try the drip feeding method from above next year.

For now though I have decided to abandon this method of growing as it seems unreliable at best. At least I have tested one of my tanks and have a NFT system ready for running and growing the tomato plants later on in the season, These I know from experience are more than happy to be placed directly within the nutrient solution.

The Aeroponic Strawberry Tank

This is the Hydroponic strawberries growing in our Aeroponic system

The Hydroponic strawberries after they’ve just been started in the system

This is the second hydroponic system I’m setting up for growing Strawberries this year, The tank I’m using was originally an Aeroponic propagator which I purchased from Nutriculture. It was originally made for propagating 205 seeds or plants.

Closeup of the Aeroponic Strawberry tank showing the nutrient spray nozzles in action

Closeup of the Aeroponic Strawberry tank showing the nutrient spray nozzles in action

I used it for the first year in this way, But never really used it to it’s full capacity. So decided to try it a little differently this year. The tank itself has a pump in the middle of the tank which is connected by a series of plastic pipes to little spray nozzles.

So when the pump is running a continuous spray of nutrient solution is sent to the roots of any plants which are dangling into the tank from the top plate above.

The Aeroponic strawberry tank showing the extra mist of nutrients being active

The Aeroponic strawberry tank showing the extra mist of nutrients being active

As well as using it like this I’ve also put in a large floating fogger inside it, This is normally used to produce a fog or mist on the top of ponds for decorative purposes but I’m using it to add a little bit of extra nutrients to all of the places on the plants roots which may or may not be hit by the spray from the pump alone. As the fog or mist solution finds it’s way out of the sides of the top plate when it’s active I’m only doing this several times a day with a timer for a few minutes. I’m not really sure if it will help the plants but it can only help. It looks cool anyway when it’s active and the mist is rising from the plants.

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