Award winning hydroponic strawberries. Created as a school project. Simple, easy to care for. Perfect for small hobbiests, science fairs, or as a learning tool. Can be upsized to create a larger production system.
Step 1: Materials
What you will need to build your simple hyrdoponics strawberry system:
1. 5 gallon bucket or other water container. Any bin, bucket, or tote should work.
2. Gardening hose or tubing (if using gardening hose, make sure you are comfortable with cutting it to a point where it would no longer be a valuable garden hose).
3. Water pump. A small fountain pump will be ideal.
4. Hydroponic tray. Pvc piping would also be efficient, but openings would have to be cut into the pipe so that it resembles a hydroponics tray.
5. Planter pots that will fit the opening of your tray or pipe comfortably.
6. Beginning strawberry plants.
7) Vermiculite or other planting material.
Step 2: Set Up
First, you will want to find a place to establish your system. The water container (bucket) will have to be set below the tray so that water can spill into it, therfore a table end or tall box/bin will do fine. I have used a large cooler to place my system on top of. Also make sure your system will be away from weather elements and will have access to sunlight (artifical may work if need be). An outlet will also need to be nearby to plug in the water pump.
Step 3: Putting Your Materials Together
Now that you have found a place for your system, you can start setting up.
1) Place the hydroponics tray on the surface of your found area.
2) Place the bucket under the open end of your tray.
3) Fill bucket with water.
4) Cut a portion of the water hose out that is long enough to reach from the inside of the bucket to the far end of the tray.
5) Establish one end of the hose to the output of the water pump.
6) Place water pump inside bucket of water
7) Place other end of the water hose at the far end of the tray (either through the opening or a drilled hole).
8) Plug water pump in.
Your system should now be working. Water will be pumped through the hose and will then fall back into the bucket in a continous cycle. You may have to add something under the tray to create an incline for the water to travel to the bucket.
Step 4: The Plants
Now you are ready to add your strawberry plants. Make sure each of your planter pots has several openings in the bottom or lower sides for roots to grow through.
1) Fill your planter pots with vermiculite. Vermiculite acts as a sponge to hold water, but its main job is to give the plants support. Other materials may also be used, such as gravel or marbels.
2) Plant your strawberry plants inside the planter pots.
3) Now place your planted strawberry plants and their planter pot inside the openings of your hydroponics tray so that the bottom of the planter is inside the running water.
Step 5: Taking Care of Your System
All that is left is to watch your plants grow! Be sure to dump and change the water container to fresh water often, and to clean off any algae that grows. From my own experiences, I don't recommend mixing in plant food with the water. Strawberries are happy enough when given just water.