Growing Strawberries in the Tower Garden
Those sweet red berries don’t just taste good. They are good for you too. Packed with vitamins, fiber, and high levels of antioxidants, strawberries are among the top 20 fruits regarding antioxidant capacity and are also a good source of manganese and potassium.
They also have a dirty little secret. They are regularly in the Dirty Dozen, EWGs list of the top twelve fruits and veggies with the largest amount of pesticide residue. If reducing exposure to pesticides is important, growing strawberries in the Tower Garden might be something you seriously consider.
To the novice gardener, growing strawberries can seem a little daunting. And while it does require you to be a little more hands-on compared to something like parsley, it’s really not as difficult as you might think.
In this post, we’ll break it down so you can start growing your own Tower Garden Strawberries.
What Type of Strawberries Should you Choose?
These strawberries produce a single, but pretty large harvest of berries each year, in just a few short weeks in the early summer. For this reason, many gardeners in the Northern US and Canada prefer this type. However, as June-bearing strawberries produce their first crop the second year after planting, you won’t see many Tower Gardeners growing this type of strawberry from seed.
Everbearing strawberries begin bearing at the same time as June bearers. The difference is, they will continue to produce providing conditions are favorable and temperatures are between 35-85 F. While overall production is a little lower, they will continue to set flower buds regardless of the number of hours of daylight. They are also known as day-neutral because of this. The Albion Seedlings we have are Everbearing.
If you’re not sure which strawberry type or variety to grow, ask your local extension office for recommendations based on your area.
Planting Strawberry Seedlings
Strawberries are pretty cold-hardy and you can grow them providing your temperatures stay above 35˚ F. Some varieties may be grown from seed, but you will usually save yourself about three years if you purchase seedlings or bare-root. I know I don’t have that kind of patience!
Growing Strawberry Seedlings
There are a few things to consider before growing strawberries in the Tower Garden. Let’s go over them below.
Strawberries, like any other fruit-producing crop, require at least 8 hours of direct sunlight. Any less and you’ll struggle to get a decent yield. If using grow lights you will usually need them to be on for quite a few extra hours. For example, it is recommended that you have your Tower Garden LED grow lights on for at least 14 hours. While Tower Garden does not recommend using them to grow fruiting plants inside, some Tower Gardeners have had success with this.
Like other fruiting crops, pollination needs to occur in order for the plant to produce strawberries. If you are growing inside hand pollination may be necessary. It sounds difficult, but it’s not. Take a small paintbrush, q-tip, or electric toothbrush (with a head you are not using, obviously) and brush the inside of each flower to transfer the pollen. You should see signs of berries in a few days. You can find more information on hand pollination here.
One thing strawberries do not like is being overwatered. Ensure your pump is plugged into a timer. If you are growing a Tower with only strawberries you may be able to set your digital timer to the outside setting, or 15 on 30 off on the analog timer. View this post on How to set your Tower Garden timer for more information on the different timers.
Remove and plant runners
Many strawberry varieties produce runners. These are root-like off-shoots that help Strawberry plants “reproduce”. If you remove the runner, it tells your plant to focus on more fruit production and that will result in bigger harvests. You can put the runners in water until they root, then place them in a Rockwool cube. If your plant is producing more runners than flowers it may be too hot or the nutrients in the reservoir may be too strong. Empty the reservoir and refill it with fresh water and nutrients.
Preventing Pests and Diseases in Strawberries
Tower Garden greatly reduces the risk of pests and plant diseases, but you should still check your strawberry plants for the following problems periodically:
- Aphids are small insects that typically feed on young plant growth, causing it to appear puckered or deformed.
- Mites are sap-sucking insects that stunt plant growth and sometimes even kill plants.
- Japanese Beetles feed on plant leaves and flowers.
- Powdery mildew forms a white-gray powdery growth, usually on the upper surfaces of leaves.
If you do notice a problem, here’s how you can naturally deal with pests.
If you are looking for general Tower Garden Growing tips, Tower Garden Success in 6 Easy Steps will give you all the fundamentals.