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Plant Profile: Albion Strawberries

Albion StrawberriesHow many people knew that it was possible to grow fresh strawberries aeroponically?  Well it is possible!  At our South Windsor, Connecticut campus we have Albion Strawberries growing in our new aeroponics system, and they’ve been growing since February.   For those that don’t know, the GrowTek Vertical Aeroponics System is a vertical tower system that can hold as much as 220 plants at a time.   This system is neat, because you can grow many crops at once in a small space.  The strawberries have been very successful, and we hope that you will have the same luck.  You can learn more about how to grow strawberries in our aeroponics system in this month’s plant profile.

Albion Strawberries Fragaria x Ananassa

Days to Bloom: 5 weeks

Disease Resistances

Verticillium Wilt (VW)

Phytophthora Crown Rot (PC)

Anthracnose Crown Rot (A)

Growing Method

The system we use to grow strawberries has a 100 gallon water reservoir that is connected to a timer, providing a gentle mist of water directly to the plants’ roots for two minutes every two hours.

100-gallon reservoir

Lighting 

For ideal growth, Albion Strawberries should receive 16 hours of supplemental lighting. Our aeroponics system is surrounded by our CFL light fixtures.  Here, our lights are set on three sides.  We have CFL lighting fixtures suspended from the ceiling with four on the right side, three on the left side and one hanging vertically in the back.

Aeroponic system lighting

Temperature and Humidity

In our grow rooms we aim to keep the temperature at 82 degrees Fahrenheit with an ideal humidity of 50%.

Nutrient Requirement

In the 100 galloon reservoir we keep the EC at 2.0 and the pH at 5.9 

Support

Albion Strawberries do not need any support, but to support this vertical system we use gripples, which are cable clips that are made out of our galvanized aircraft cable.  These cables are then wrapped around rafters to support the system and the lights around it.

Support systemGripple Close up

Care

Albion Strawberries are not a common crop to grow aeroponically, but it is possible.  There is a little more work that goes into growing them though. For starters, you cannot start strawberries as a seed hydroponically.  Instead, you will need to outsource dry crowns.  They will already be a small plant when you get them, as they are about a year old.  Once you are ready to plant the crowns, soak and clean the roots to get the excess dirt off of them.  Once they are completely clean, they are ready for planting.

Uncleaned rootsCleaned roots

Pollination 

Flower to pollinateYou need to pollinate every day.  Albion Strawberries need to have every single seed pollinated.  You can do this by using a soft-bristled brush.  All you need to do is run the brush over the flower, making sure to hit each petal.  If you happen to miss one of the flowers during pollination, the result will be a misshapen, but still delectable fruit, so there is no need to stress if you are unsure of your pollination technique.

Harvesting

Albion Strawberries are ready to be harvested when the fruit shows a deep red color throughout.

Diseases/Pests  

Along with Verticillium Wilt, Phytophthora Crown Rot and Anthracnose Crown Rot, Albion Strawberries are prone to spider mites.  Spider mites typically show up in high humidity, so keeping your grow room around 50% humidity can help keep these pests away.  You can also use Cucumeris Mites to control spider mites.  These mites are faster than spider mites and will help control your pest problem.

Spider mites

Tips/Tricks

While pollinating strawberries seem like a daunting task, it is actually relatively easy, if you know the right tricks.  No special brush is needed for pollination; we just went down the street to a local drug store and picked up a $3 make up brush.  These brushes are perfect for pollinating and can be found anywhere.

That is how we produce Albion Strawberries at our Connecticut campus.  If you have any questions on caring for this plant or about our GrowTek Vertical Aeroponics Tower please leave us a comment.

Albion Strawberry

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. gayle #

    Hi. Do you start letting the plants bloom immediately or do you remove blooms to let the plants get bigger. If you let then bloom immediately do they continue to bloom more as the plants grow?

    How long is the harvest season for plants grown this way

    Thanks

    April 15, 2016
    • Hi Gayle,

      We clip the first few flowers and any really small ones along the way. They will produce for about 3-4 months.

      Thank you.

      May 2, 2016
  2. Ron Russo #

    My name is Ron Russo.
    I am interested in creating an aeroponics tower garden. Of all the designs I have seen yours really stands out.
    I have a few questions regarding making a tower of my own.
    I am a NYC. Science teacher. This would be an amazing tool, not just in the classroom but the school community.
    Is there someone who wouldn’t mind answering some questions, like pump type, pvc dimensions and misting setup.
    I’ve been doing so much reading and would be grateful for any insight.
    Thanks you.
    Ron Russo
    ronrusso2@gmail.com

    December 26, 2016
    • Hi Ron,

      If you would like to speak with someone about system design, please contact a specialist by phone at 800-476-9715. We would be happy to speak with you about the design you have in mind and the requirements you are looking to meet.

      January 3, 2017

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