Why do hydroponic strawberries taste so good?

A fresh, flavorful, never before frozen strawberry enjoyed mid-winter would seem impossible. However, an indoor hydroponic system is very much capable of delivering such delicacies, all year round.

What nutrients are needed to grow tasty strawberries?

The practice of hydroponic gardening provides a continuous flow of nutrients to the roots of the plant at all times. This leads to very healthy plants and very delicious fruits, packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Indoor gardening also means that losing fruits to your typical garden foes such as weevils, rabbits, and caterpillars is highly unlikely.

The quality of fruit produced depends on the quality of the amended substrate (soil or water) that you are providing to your plants. Plants absorb nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium among many other macro and micro nutrients through their roots. The water used in your hydroponic garden acts as your substrate and will need to contain these key nutrients. Strawberry plants will develop through two main stages; foliage growth and flowering/fruiting. Different nutrients added throughout these growing stages will support the plants natural cycle of first developing leaves, then flowers, and finally, fruits.

Stage #1 Germination & Foliage Growth (first 2.5 months) :

We used Summer Breeze Cherry Blossom Strawberry Seeds from JohnnySeeds and started them inside the Solaris Seed Starter. While germinating the seeds and for their first 1-2 weeks of life inside the seed starter, no nutrients need to be added to the water.

Once the seedlings are transplanted into your hydroponic garden, we used the Solaris Garden 36, you will begin to add FloraGrow and FloraMicro at 1 tbsp per 2 gallons of water. Continue with this combination of nutrients until you start to see flower shoots appear, then which you will begin stage two.

Stage #2 Flowering & Fruiting (2.5-4 months from germination) :

Once you see flower shoots start to appear, begin to add in FloraBloom at 1 tbsp per 2 gallons of water and CalMag at 1 tbsp per 4 gallons of water. Add these two nutrients in addition to the FloraGrow and FloraMicro from stage 1. To reduce excessive foliage growth during the Flowering & Fruiting stage, cut back on the nitrogen rich FloraMicro by half during this time.

pH Determines Nutrient Uptake

In order for plants to successfully absorb the nutrients present in the substrate, whether that be soil or water, the pH needs to be within range of the plants preference.

For strawberries we recommend keeping the pH as close to 6.0 as possible. Make sure to check the pH of your hydroponic system (usually from the reservoir) weekly and especially after topping off with water and nutrients. Using the same pH testing instrument to check each time is also key for attaining accurate readings each week.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Root Health

Hydrogen peroxide should be added weekly to promote overall root health and to ward off any unwanted algae from growing. We recommend adding 2 tbsp of 3% hydrogen peroxide to 2 gallons of water per week (you can estimate how much water is in your set up at the time).

Check out this article on the importance of hydrogen peroxide, especially when used in a hydroponic garden – https://www.trees.com/gardening-andlandscaping/hydrogen-peroxide-hydroponics.

Sunlight Vs. LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights have advanced a long way in terms of mimicking the suns intensity and wavelength, however, nothing will ever compare to the giant fireball in our sky. If you are planning on growing any type of flowering or fruiting plant indoors, you will need to invest in a full spectrum, high intensity grow light.

All indoor Solaris Gardens use the Barrina BU 2000, which has proven itself, many times over, great at growing greens, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, strawberries, and much more. The Barrina BU 2000 is full spectrum, has a high PPFD (photosynthetic photon flux density), and has 816 individual LEDs.

We recommend a light schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off. Plants, like humans, carry out important restorative functions in the dark while “sleeping”, so it’s just as important to give them a period of rest as it is a period of light.

When to Harvest

Casually speaking, you’ll be able to tell when a strawberry is ready to harvest when it looks dark red and can easily be picked from the stem. In our experience, it took about 4 months to harvest the very first strawberry (and hundreds more) after germinating the plant by seed.

The University of Minnesota has a comprehensive write up on when to harvest, how to harvest, and how to store home grown strawberries; read it here.

We are always on the lookout for new tips and tricks to make hydroponic gardening enjoyable for everyone. If you have questions or would like to share your growing journey with us, please feel more than welcome to send us a note at support@solaris.garden.


The Solaris Systems Team

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