Strawberries are one of the most popular berry species in the world. It's no surprise that many people are interested in growing them. But the question that comes to people's minds is, can you grow strawberries in aquaponics?
Strawberries are among the best plants to grow in aquaponics systems because they are easy to grow and take only a small space to grow and grow larger and juicier, and taste better. Read on below to learn how to grow strawberries in aquaponics systems.
Why Grow Strawberries in Aquaponics Systems?
Strawberries grow well in a soilless setup. Aside from needing very little space to grow, they also taste better and can survive very well in a vertical space. This is beneficial for home aquaponics growers because it helps save space.
What Strawberry Variety is the Best for Aquaponics Systems?
Growing strawberries in your aquaponics garden starts with one question - what variety is the best? The answer to this question will depend on your personal preference, taste, and availability. That being said, the strawberry varieties that are great for aquaponics systems are the following:
- Albion: The Albion is a new strawberry variety that was developed in California. These quick-growing sweet and juicy berries have a bright red color and classical conical strawberry shape. Albion strawberry varieties have an average height of 12 inches.
- Seascape: This perennial strawberry variety grows into medium to large and is sweeter than most strawberry varieties. The seascape strawberry can reach its maximum height of 18 inches.
- Tribute: The tribute variety fruits are medium to large and have a glossy red color and classic fruity taste. This strawberry variety is a day-neutral species and grows to at least 12 inches.
- Ozark Beauty: The ozark beauty strawberry grows well in a cooler climate and tastes extra-sweet. This variety is a day-neutral variety and can grow up to 12 inches.
Growing Time for Aquaponics Strawberries
Growing strawberries from seed can take up to 2-3 years for the plant to develop fruits. So the best option is to plant them with runners or buy seedlings from your local nursery and transfer them into your system.
Strawberry fruits are usually ready for harvest 4-6 weeks after blossoming. There are three types of strawberries: June bearing, overbearing, and day-neutral variants. The variant will play an essential role in determining when it will bloom.
Growing Requirements for Aquaponics Strawberries
Like other aquaponics plants, you need to fulfill the following requirements to grow a successful strawberry in your aquaponics system.
The ideal water temperature range for growing strawberries is between 60-80°F, but the plant can still tolerate lower temperatures of as low as 22°F as long as they are protected from frost.
pH of the Water
The ideal range of ph level of the water for growing aquaponic strawberries is 5.5 to 6.0. A higher pH level will cause leaf burn and stunts the growth of your strawberry.
Strawberries are a fruiting crop, meaning they need more potassium than the leafy greens. The strawberries require potassium to produce fruits. It is best to start growing strawberries with a fully established system.
Strawberries like light and require 12 hours of direct sunshine each day. Sunlight is preferred but grow lightsalso work for indoor growing.
Tilapia is the recommended fish for beginners in aquaponics as they are hardy fish, easy to maintain, and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. However, crappie, carp, and koi are well suited for growing strawberries.
Aquaponics System Type
The best method for growing strawberries in aquaponics are media-based, nutrient film techniques (NFT), or vertical aquaponics systems.
How to Grow Aquaponics Strawberries
Growing strawberries in aquaponics systems is different from using traditional soil-based gardening methods. The difference is that in aquaponics; the water holds the nutrients necessary for strawberry plants to grow and thrive. Below are a few things you need to consider in growing strawberries in aquaponics systems.
- Is your location suited for growing strawberries?
- Will you grow inside or outside?
- What type of fish will you use?
- Are you growing for personal use or commercial use?
- What variety of strawberries are you planning to grow?
Starting Strawberry Seeds for Aquaponics Systems
You have the option of starting strawberries from seeds or buying a seedling from your local garden shop. If you want to start your strawberry seeds, read our guide on how to start seeds in your aquaponics system.
The Best Way of Growing Strawberries in Aquaponics
There are several methods of growing strawberries in aquaponics. Strawberries can grow very well in grow beds, but the best way of growing aquaponics strawberries is using PVC pipes through the NFT system or a vertical aquaponics system.
1. NFT System: The NFT system is often used by commercial aquaponics growers because this technique makes harvesting strawberries easy because of its straightforward design.
2. Vertical Aquaponics: The vertical aquaponics system also uses PVC pipes as towers. The PVC tower works by putting holes all over the PVC for the strawberry plants. The tower is then attached to the main PVC line, where the water flows back to the fish tank. Below are the advantages of using a PVC tower for growing strawberries:
- It keeps the plants off the ground.
- Vertical towers allow you to grow more crops per square foot.
- Grow towers will also allow you to space your growing area around the tower.
Common Problems in Aquaponics Strawberries
Like any other aquaponics plant, strawberries are not safe from any problems. Some issues you may encounter are:
If your system is not maintained correctly, pests can also become a problem. Pests like weevils, slugs, and sap bugs can attack your strawberry plants. Birds may also attack your strawberries if you grow them in an outdoor aquaponics system. Read our article, "Organic Pest Control in Aquaponic," for ideas on controlling pest infestation in your aquaponics system.
Consider your climate and location before deciding to grow strawberries in your system. The ideal temperature range for strawberries is between 60°F to 80°F. Strawberries will produce smaller fruits when exposed to too much heat and die when the temperature is above 80°F.
Exposing strawberries to too much heat can be prevented by monitoring both the water temperature and the temperature of your growing area. Below are some ways to help keep your water temperature cool:
- Installing a cooling coil
- Adding coolant to the water
- Keeping the fish tank in the shade
- Add cool water when the temperature heats up.
High ammonia levels can kill your strawberry plants. So make sure that the water quality of your system is monitored and maintained correctly for the optimum growth of your fish and crops.
Algae growth is one of the most common problems for aquaponics growers. Algae form in the water from too much light exposure, warm water temperature, and lack of proper maintenance. When algae builds up in the system, it will feed on the nutrients intended for your plants. So, prevent too much algae growth in your aquaponics system by shading your fish tank or painting them in solid colors. You can also install a filtration system to help clean the water in your fish tank.
Final Thoughts on Growing Aquaponics Strawberries
Growing strawberries in your aquaponics system may require lots of consideration. Still, it will be worth it when harvest time comes, and you'll be providing fresh and organic strawberries to your family. A few important things to keep in mind when growing aquaponics strawberries are selecting the best variety for your needs, choosing the right fish, and monitoring and maintaining your system properly.