Hydroponic Strawberries

NFT StrawberriesStrawberries can be grown successfully using a number of different Hydroponic Systems.   Strawberries grown in hydroponics will grow around 40% faster than when grown in soil.

Strawberries can fruit all year around if you provide them with a good growing environment.

Strawberries require a CF range between 18 and  22

Commercial StrawberriesNFT Strawberries

I have found using NFT with a PVC pipe as the channel is the best for me, this method is also the most commonly used system for commercially grown Strawberries

If possible suspend the pipe above head height, the strawberries will hang below the pipe and it is very easy to see when they are ready and to pick them, this also allows easy management of Strawberry runners.

I generally plant my Strawberries in a mixture of Perlite and Vermiculite in grow pots, the mixture has a lot more Vermiculite than Perlite as Strawberries to limit the amount of moisture around the Strawberries crown, Strawberry plants to not like having a wet crown.

Flood and Drain Strawberries

Strawberries can be grown in a Flood and Drain system as long as you take special care to keep the crown of the Strawberries dry.

Use a mixture of Perlite and Vermiculite as the aggregate, have a 2 cm layer of Vermiculite at the top of the Grow Tray.  Ensure that the Overflow Pipe is below the level of the layer of Vermiculite.

Grow TowerGrow Towers

Grow Towers are another method for growing great Strawberries, you are able to have a large number of Strawberry plants with a very small foot print.

Fill the pots with a mixture of Perlite and Vermiculite, plant a single Strawberry plant in each opening.  Ensure that the Strawberry crown stays dry.

Caring for your Strawberries

  • Pick the fruit as soon as they are ready
  • Check the plant regularly for runners and cut them off
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Monitoring Equipment

There are many options for monitoring your homemade hydroponic system. I have put these in order of importance for your system.  Please note that for optimal produce and commercial systems all of these are important.

CF MeterCF Meter

The concentration of nutrients in a solution is measured as Conductivity Factor (CF),  the more nutrients in a solution, the more conductive the solution becomes. The CF level of your hydroponic solution is the most important to control; it is actually possible to starve your plants by having too higher nutrient concentration, this process is called reverse osmosis (some weed killers use this method)

CF Meters range hugely in price, models can be found from around $100 for a hand held model to many thousands of dollars for fully automated CF control systems.

CF Meters can be purchased from Amazon, click here for the CF meter I use Blue Lab Commercial Truncheon PPM / EC / CF Meter

Litmus Paper / pH Meter

The acidity / alkalinity of your nutrient solution is measured as pH.  Pure water has a pH of around 7,  acidic solutions have a pH below 7 and alkaline have a pH above 7.

The pH level of your nutient solution is the second most important.  Different minerals in the solution are released at different acidity levels, there is a chart showing the absorption levels here .  A pH range between 5.8 and 6.3 is good for most plants.

Litmus Paper is a very cheap way of checking the pH level of a solution.  A paper strip is dipped into the hydroponic solution and it will change color.  Litmus Paper comes with a color chart, the strip is compared to the color chart, this will show the pH of the solution.

A pH Meter performs the same task as Litmus paper, the meters do cost a lot more than Litmus Paper.  Most pH meters have a sensor probe and digital display.  The sensor is placed into the hydroponic solution for a specified time and the pH level will be displayed on the meter.  The sesor probe on pH Meters normally need to be re-calibrated regularly, a calibration solution is provided with most sensors, this solution is at a know pH level allowing you to calibrate the meter.

 

Combo Meter

Combination Meters

Combination meters are available and generally work out much more cost efficient than purchasing the meters individually.  The displayed model is available on Amazon, click here to go directly to the Amazon page Bluelab Combo Meter pH, Conductivity and Temperature Monitor

CO2 System

Plants breath carbon dioxide (CO2) and need for photosynthesis.  CO2 is present in relatively low quantities, 300-450 Parts Per Million (ppm) in the air. Plant growth can be increased and accelerated by as much as 35% if the level of CO2 is increased to 1500 ppm.

There are several basic CO2 systems that you can easily build or buy

CO2 Fish Tank SystemFermentation

The CO2 systems used in fish tanks can be used.  Place the CO2 dispersion unit into a container of water.  These units can be purchased from Amazon, click this link to be taken directly to the page on Amazon Hagen Nutrafin CO2 Natural Plant System with CO2 Activator and Stabilizer

Using a plastic soda bottle, a soft plastic tube and a small container.  Drill a hole in the lid of the soda bottle and carefully glue the tubing into it, making sure the hole is completely sealed.  Glue the other end of the piping into the bottom of the container.  Put several inches of water into the container, ensure that the end of the pipe is fully submerged.  Put a cup full of sugar and two teaspoons of yeast into the soda bottle and fill to around 1/2 way with warm water.  As the mixture ferments, CO2 will be produced and slowly released through the water.

Oil Lamp / Candle

The most simple CO2 is an oil lamp or candle (tea lites are good and burn for a long time), as these burn, CO2 is released.  Please remember that fire can be dangerous, ensure that you have these well away from anything flammable.

 

CO2 Bottle SystemCO2 Bottle

For larger scale glasshouses CO2 can also be purchased in gas tanks and be released into the growing environment using regulators and solenoid valves.

Small CO2 gas bottle systems used in fish tanks can also be purchased from Amazon, these are good in a small enclosure.  Click here to go directly to the page on Amazon Fluval Mini Pressurized 20g-CO2 Kit – 0.7 ounces

 

Thermostat

A thermostat is used to regulate the temperature of your glasshouse, they can be used to automatically open and shut windows, run fans and control heaters.

 

 

 

 

 

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Growing Under Lights

We are all familiar with the idea that “Plants require light to grow”, however this is not strictly true. Plants utilize energy in the form of radiation for their necessary processes, solar radiation is the primary source of this energy.

The main photosynthetic of plants is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll mainly absorbs light in the red and blue spectrums.

Visible Light Spectrum

 

What we perceive as ‘light’ is not necessarily what plants require for healthy growth, this is why simply using a normal light bulb is very ineffective.

There are many different lights specifically designed for providing the required light for plants

High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lights

High Intensity Light (HID)HID lights are very efficient. HID lights are always used with a reflector and require a ballast to operate. Check the manufacturers installation instructions to ensure that you have sufficient space around the light, HID lights can produce a considerable amount of heat.

There are two types of HID lights:

High Pressure Sodium Lights (HPS)

HPS lights produce light in the orange to red spectrum, this light can trigger an increase of budding and flowering in plants. HPS are a great supplementary light used with natural sunlight of Metal Halide lights. Bulbs will last up to 10,000 hours operation.

Metal Halide Lights (MH)

MH lights produce light in the blue spectrum, this color light promotes plant growth and is great for leafy green growth and keeping the plants compact (without blue spectrum light the plants will grow thin and lanky). Bulbs will last up to 18,000 hours operation.

 

Fluorescent Grow Lights

Sun Blaze LightFluorescent lights have been used for a long time to encourage growth of plants in fish tanks. Until fairly recently fluorescent lights have not been powerful enough and have been too large and bulky to be used commercially.

There are now compact bulbs and much higher power tubes.

Fluorescent lights are very energy efficient and can have a very wide and varied spectrum of light output, the also produce a lot less heat than HID lights.

Compact Fluorescent LightLights should be placed within a few feet of the plants if possible.

Check that you get the correct light spectrum (red for flowering, blue for plant growth) or purchase full spectrum bulbs.

It is not necessary to use reflectors with fluorescent lights, use reflectors when you need to direct the light to a specific location.

Incandescent Grow Lights

Incandescent Grow LightThese are the cheapest lights to buy and are the most inefficient and are the worst light source for plants.

It would be much more cost effective and you would get a much better light source using a compact fluorescent grow light.

 

LED Grow Lights

LED lights have progressed massively over the last few years and they are now becoming popular in all sorts of technology, this is because they are cheap and very efficient.

There are some drawbacks of using LED grow lights, the main one is that the light can give thLemnis Lightinge plants a very unnatural appearance, the level of light can also be lower than other types of light.

LED lights give of almost no heat so can be place virtually anywhere you want.

The latest LED system I discovered has been developed by Lemnis Lighting. As you can see there are lights in the red and blue spectrum’s to specifically target the requirements of the plants. The missing yellow and green spectrum colors cause the plants to appear unnatural.

 

General Lighting Guidelines

  • Blue light spectrum for plant growth
  • Red light spectrum for flowering and budding
  • Use light reflectors to direct the light
  • Paint and solid walls white to reflect white
  • Watch out for heat from the lights
  • Light your plants for 14-16 hours for foliage growth
  • Light your plants for 12-16 hours when flowering
  • Make sure you plants have darkness of at least 8 hours

 

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The Folk-Lore of Plants

The Folk-Lore of Plants

Here is the Table of Contents:

 

  • PREFACE.
  • CHAPTER I. PLANT LIFE.
  • CHAPTER II. PRIMITIVE AND SAVAGE NOTIONS RESPECTING PLANTS
  • CHAPTER III. PLANT-WORSHIP.
  • CHAPTER IV. LIGHTNING PLANTS.
  • CHAPTER V. PLANTS IN WITCHCRAFT.
  • CHAPTER VI. PLANTS IN DEMONOLOGY.
  • CHAPTER VII. PLANTS IN FAIRY-LORE.
  • CHAPTER VIII. LOVE-CHARMS.
  • CHAPTER IX. DREAM-PLANTS.
  • CHAPTER X. PLANTS AND THE WEATHER.
  • CHAPTER XI. PLANT PROVERBS.
  • CHAPTER XII. PLANTS AND THEIR CEREMONIAL USE.
  • CHAPTER XIII. PLANT NAMES.
  • CHAPTER XIV. PLANT LANGUAGE.
  • CHAPTER XV. FABULOUS PLANTS.
  • CHAPTER XVI. DOCTRINE OF SIGNATURES.
  • CHAPTER XVII. PLANTS AND THE CALENDAR.
  • CHAPTER XVIII. CHILDREN’S RHYMES AND GAMES.
  • CHAPTER XIX. SACRED PLANTS.
  • CHAPTER XX. PLANT SUPERSTITIONS.
  • CHAPTER XXI. PLANTS IN FOLK-MEDICINE.
  • CHAPTER XXII. PLANTS AND THEIR LEGENDARY HISTORY.
  • CHAPTER XXIII. MYSTIC PLANTS.

This book contains an amazing 168 pages of fascinating information on the Folk Lore and mysticism that has surrounded plants for thousands of years.

 

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All About Greenhouse Growing

All About Greenhouse GrowingHave you ever thought about having your own glasshouse, find out what you need to know in this free eBook.

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  • different styles of glasshouses
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This is a very informative book that I am sure you will find interesting and best of all, it is free

 

Download your copy of All About Greenhouse Growing here

 

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Beautiful Gardens

Beautiful Gardens

Discover How You Can Turn Your Plain Looking Yard Into A Beautiful Garden That Everyone Can Enjoy!

You Can Have The Garden Of Your Dreams By Following A Few Simple Steps.

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Your Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Over the years, roses have acquired a reputation as being one of the most fragile and time-consuming flowers you can attempt to grow on your own.

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Home Vegetable Gardening

Home Vegetable Gardening

No patch of land is too tiny to create a superb home vegetable garden. And Home Vegetable Gardening is the perfect book to help you get started on the right foot. If you have always wanted to grow your own delicious, mouthwatering vegetables, fruits and berries now you can do it with a little planning and care and the excellent advice you will find inside this book!. After you have tasted how delicious homegrown vegetables are, you will never settle for that ordinary store-bought produce again!

For some, the home vegetable garden is a hobby, for others especially in these days of high prices, a great help. There are many in both cases whose experience in gardening has been restricted within very narrow bounds, and whose present spare time for gardening is limited. It is as a “first aid” to such persons, who want to do practical, efficient gardening, and do it with the least possible fuss and loss of time, that this book is written.

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Your Garden: The Ultimate Gardening Guide

Your GardenYou Deserve The Garden Of Your Dreams! Be The Envy Of Your Friends And Neighbours, Save Time, Effort & Money When You Discover How To Create The Ultimate Garden.

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Hundreds Of Easy To Follow Ideas, Tips and Shortcuts To Create The Perfect Garden.

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Building Your Own Greenhouse

Building Your  Own GreenhouseDon’t Be A Conventional Greenhouse Dreamer! Come Out Of The Mould, Build Your Own And Let Your Greenhouse Give A Better Yield Than Any Other In Town! Discover How You Can Start Your Own Greenhouse With Healthier Plants – Anytime Of The Year!

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  • Greenhouse Tables, Shelving And Plant Holders
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  • Managing The Greenhouse Climate
  • Gardening Inside The Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse Kits For Plant Enthusiasts
  • Create A Warm And Suitable Environment For Growth With Greenhouse Plastic
  • Greenhouses: Where The Grass Is Green All Year-Round
  • What Makes Up The Greenhouse Structure?
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  • What Every Gardener Needs To Know About Greenhouse Systems
  • How Does A Greenhouse Work: The Benefits That Can Be Derived From Its Operations
  • The Purposes Of Hydroponics Greenhouses
  • What You Get From Lean-To Greenhouses
  • Thinking Of Buying A Greenhouse?
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  • 5 Essentials For A Commercial Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse Accessories And Their Utility
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