Where I live (Southern Ontario) there is one sure sign that summer is in full swing. That’s the sight of fresh strawberries being sold at farmers’ markets.
You know- the in those little green baskets.
There is something different about locally grown strawberries. Their much smaller than the off-season varieties, sometimes even half the size. But WOW do they pack a punch of flavor.
Luckily for us, the AeroGarden system sees the value in growing your favorite off-season vegetables and fruit on demand. This is why they offer a “grow anything kit” seed pod kit to help with indoor garden pursuit.
While it may be tempting to grow strawberries in the seed pods provided. This will, unfortunately, result in nothing more than a bright green bush in your AeroGarden grow. This may be nice for some, but if you’re looking to grow strawberries in your AeroGarden then your probably going to want some fruit for your labor.
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Can you grow strawberries in AeroGarden?
Yes, while strawberries are not included in the long list of AeroGarden seeds, it is possible to grow new strawberry shoots and existing plants in an AeroGarden by using a grow basket. By using a grow basket the strawberry plant will be able to send new shoots through the growing medium which is spread out across the AeroGarden.
you will have to locate a strawberry plant root ball. Strawberries are classified as perennial plants. This means if cared for properly they will come back to life in the next growing season (even after a harsh winter).
Because of this, Strawberry plants are best grown from a root ball that has already had a chance to develop. Otherwise, you could wait years before a plant from seed successfully bears fruit.
How to prepare your strawberry seed pods
Even if you’re not interested in saving your AeroGarden seed pods from previous grows this may be a time where you bend the rules. Re-using seeds pods can help you save a ton of money in the long run. To Grow strawberries in an AeroGarden it does require a bit of finessing to set things straight.
Hydroponic strawberries grow best in an agricultural grow sponge like Rockwool. This stable ground the rockwool provides is a great foundation for roots to develop. Grow sponges are another great alternative that can be purchased at any hydroponic store or online.
If you are pressed for time or do not want the added cost of grow-sponges then compact peat moss will also work just fine for your indoor garden.
Step 1: Trim and prepare the Strawberry root ball
When you buy strawberry crowns or grow bulbs, they are typically quite large, somewhere in the range of a golf ball.
Since you have limited space in your grow pod make sure you trim back much of the loose root ends around the root ball at the base of the stem. While this may seem like you are severely damaging the hibernating plant it actually helps with root development. This works by triggering the plant into focusing energy on new growth.
Pro tip: Try dipping the trimmed root ball into some root stim powder. This will dramatically increase the the recovery time of the planted crown.
Step 2: Insert the root crown into the grow sponge or Rockwool
It’s important to make sure that the root crown can fit comfortably in the grow sponge or Rockwool. This will save you some time fumbling with the plant and knocking root debris into the grow tank reservoir.
Adding debris to your tank is sure to cause damage to your pump over time. If the root crown does not fit, take it back out and get back to trimming! You can also choose to cut more of the sponge or growing medium away if you feel the roots have already been damaged enough.
Step 3: Place the grow basket in the AeroGarden chamber
Once you have made sure that the root crown is comfortably positioned in the grow basket give it a little tap. This will ensure any loose debris will fall away.
Like I mentioned in the last step any loose debris will wreak havoc in your AeroGarden water pump system. So take the added pre-caution and do away with it from the beginning.
If you are working with very large root crowns then you could also try skipping the growing medium altogether. Instead, simply place the crown in the growing basket. Push down on the grow basket, once you hear a click you know the basket is snug in its place.
Step 4: Fill the water tank and add liquid fertilizer
One of the most important steps that can’t be missed is filling up the water basin and adding liquid fertilizer or nutrient tablets. What’s great about growing strawberries in a hydroponic growing system like the AeroGarden is that you rarely have to think about watering your plants.
With an intuitive water level low warning system enabled in most AeroGarden models, you can focus your efforts on eating the fruit and much less on the plant maintenance.
Step 5: Pollinate the strawberry flowers
When starting out as a gardener, it’s often overlooked that all fruit and most vegetables go through a flowering phase. Depending on the plant, this may be at the beginning of the growing cycle. In other cases it’s nearing the end of the cycle like when broccoli plants go to seed.
In both cases, the name of the game is for the flowers to produce seeds. Without wind or insect pollination plants have little hope in carrying on a legacy. Since you will be growing in-doors with no wind and hopefully not too many bugs the pollination will have to be done by hand. This involves tapping gently the flowering area with a cotton swab to assist in pollination.
You could also rest a clean electric toothbrush gently against the flower to vibrate the pollen into the right places. Once successfully pollinated the fruit will begin to form.
If your completely dedicated to growing strawberries in your AeroGarden and do not have much interest in growing anything else then you may want to ditch the seed pods altogether and opt-out for the AeroGarden Grow Bowl. These grow bowls are designed for root ball plants like strawberries, tulips, or other bulb verities.
By using a grow bowl, you can fill it up with a growing medium like coconut coir and place a few strawberry crowns scattered about. Since you will need to remove the seed pod container completely this decision lock you in for the long haul of growing these bright berries for the next few months exclusively in your AeroGarden. Enjoy!
How do you care for your AeroGarden Strawberry plants?
As the plants continue to grow, it’s natural to start seeing yellow or browning of the leaves. This is especially apparent as the fruit begins to ripen.
(As long as it’s not too persistent which could mean the plant is malnourished).
Seeing the leaves slowly begin to die off is a sign that the plant is focusing efforts on growing fruit rather than lush green leaves.
I don’t know about you but I would much rather a bounty of strawberries than a bunch of bright green leaves!
Caring for your strawberries will help will ensure a hospitable condition for the fruit to ripen. It’s best to check in on your strawberry plants every other day to maintain this gradual leaf loss. Cut away the dead or dying leaves, being extra careful to not damage the stem of the plant. Allowing the leaves to die on the strawberry plant will encourage bugs or even worst -mold!
How to tell when AeroGarden Strawberries are ready for harvest?
If you have followed the steps above then you can expect to harvest your first AeroGarden strawberry 3 weeks after you see the first of the flowers form. Homegrown strawberries can be a bit smaller than your conventionally grown supermarket berries.
So, don’t be disappointed when the end result is closer to the size of a raspberry. What these home-grown strawberries lack in size they make up for in flavor. So, wait until the white part of the strawberry has completely changed to red for the best flavor results.
How long does the AeroGarden strawberry plant live for?
Your Strawberry plant can live up to 6 months before entering into a hibernation stage. To make sure you get the most out of your strawberry plant be sure to take the time to feed, water, and prune often.
What to do when your strawberry plant dies?
Once your strawberry plant “dies” or goes back into hibernation you should use this as an opportunity to clean your AeroGarden system. For more information on this check out our full guide on cleaning an AeroGarden system. This is an important task because dirt and debris can easily begin to spoil the solution in your reservoir tank.
This is especially important if you are taking a break from growing and decide to leave the plant inside the system with the water pump turned off. Before you turn the system off it’s best to give it a good clean, you will be glad you did come to the next growing cycle.
How to transplant a strawberry plant outside.
Step 1: Pick your position
Strawberries grow very well in hanging baskets or containers. Not only do they seem to prefer this type of growing condition but it also helps to keep them contained. Strawberry plants send out what we call “runners” so planting them in an open space like a raised bed will likely have them run wild. Although if a field of strawberries sounds like a great idea then an open space may be your best bet.
Step 2: Prepare growing bed or container
When transplanting strawberries, the soil will need remediation to ensure a smooth transition. I prefer to amend the soil with a mild mix of 4-4-4 growing mixture. Anything below 10 means it’s safe for fertilizing plants you plant to eat.
Mix in a tablespoon or 2 per gallon of soil or growing medium like peat moss. While amending soil is the cheapest option in the long run using a bagged soil pre-fertilized for vegetable growth will also do the trick.
Step 3: Remove the strawberry crowns from the brow basket or grow bowl
If you are working with grow pods start by pinching the bottom of the pod with your fingers on either side. Repeat this process until you feel the plant begin to loosen . Gently begin to pull the strawberry plant out of the grow pod by putting more pressure on the leaves than you do the stems. The stems of the plant are very sensitive and should be handled carefully. As you are pulling the strawberry plant from the basket be sure to watch the roots. Strawberry roots can be easily damaged when running through the grid of the AeroGarden seed pod.
If you are working with a grow bowl, then loosen the soil near the end of the leaf overhang. Lift up more as you work toward the root ball or center of the plant. You may have to damage a few roots that are well established. Take it slow and steady and re-assess the sides that were dug up in case more lifting up is needed before the final pull.
Step 4 Re-locate your Strawberry crowns
Depending on where you are located warm weather could trigger transplant shock. To avoid this start by leaving your strawberry plant outdoors in a partially shaded area for 1-3 hours per day. Gradually increase this until you get to 8-10 hours. This will slowly transition the strawberry plant into an environment that can be a bit unforgiving compared to your cozy room. Once you have made the transition to the full 8-10 hours take the final leap and plant the sucker!
Be sure to water your newly transplanted strawberry plant every day in the beginning. If you live in the southern states or are located somewhere that has intense summer days increase this to 2 times a day. It’s best to water your plants either in the early morning or after the sun has set. This will reduce evaporation an make your watering worth the wait.
Strawberries can be a rewarding fruit for most gardeners. These sweet berries are unmatched by conventional crops in flavor and substance. Remember if you plan on growing these plants indoors be sure to start with root crowns in your AeroGarden. It may be tempting to pluck a few seeds off a store-bought strawberry for your seed pods but it will be years before they bear anything. So, get started in-doors with your AeroGarden system and grow strawberries all year round.