By Jennifer Loucks

Hydroponic growing methods increase fruit production and efficiency for strawberry plants. The indoor set-up reduces disease and maintenance requirements and allows for year-round fruit production. You can purchase a hydroponics system or build a basic set-up yourself. A home production system will produce plenty of berries to feed a family of four. Start the hydroponic system with strawberry runners as seed propagation takes two-three years to reach maturity.

Choose a day-neutral cultivar for strawberry hydroponics gardening as they produce fruit for a four- to six-month period. Propagate new seedlings by cutting runners from a mature plant.

Keep the rooting area moist by placing the cuttings in a container of moist perlite. Cover the container with plastic to keep out excess moisture. Do not disturb the cuttings until roots appear.

Stimulate winter conditions by dipping the roots in a microbial solution and wrap the new seedlings in a plastic bag. Place in the refrigerator for four months.

Place the strawberry seedling in the hydroponics pot after the wintering period. The plant should remain in the same pot throughout its life cycle.

Add hydroponics water nutrients to the system. Make sure the roots are hanging into the solution based on the type of hydroponics set-up available.

Test the pH to verify it is 5.8-6.2 for strawberry plants. Change the water solution every two weeks to maintain the pH level as this is the easiest way to maintain pH.

Pollinate the strawberry garden by brushing the flower just after it opens to disperse pollen. Gently transfer the pollen to the pistils and stamen. Set up a fan to assist with pollination.

Clip the runners as the plants grow. Additional pruning is not needed. Save some runners for future seedlings.

Harvest fruit as it ripens. Once fruiting is complete, start over with new seedlings from runners that were cut from the production plants.

Clip runners from an established plant instead of starting from seed.

Deep water, drip irrigation, or nutrient film technique are hydroponic systems for hobby growers.

Strawberries require a minimum of five hours of full light per day. If this is a problem, set up grow lights.

Place strawberries in a location where the temperature is 67 to 74 degrees F.

http://www.howtoplantstrawberries.com

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