Hydroponic Strawberries Sweeten Up Winter Dolldrums

Add some fruit to your indoor bounty with this hydroponic strawberry farm. [Dino] whipped this up as his 45th hack a week episode (getting pretty close to his year-long goal). He used parts you probably already have sitting around the house somewhere. But even if you bought everything and used it once you still wouldn’t be out much.

A plastic storage container serves as the base. [Dino] also grabbed four identical plastic containers (large yogurt containers would work here) to host the plants. He cut off the bottom half and inserted some netting to keep the plant from falling through. After tracing the size of the container on the enclosure’s lid he cut out holes which will host each plant. This provides a way to dangle the roots into the nutrient solution which is kept oxygen rich with an aquarium pump and two air stones. It certainly deserves a place next to that salad farm you threw together. Don’t miss [Dino’s] build video after the break.


31 thoughts on “Hydroponic Strawberries Sweeten Up Winter Dolldrums

    1. The most obvious thing to use would be a grow light :-)

      But you can use shop lights (make sure they’re electronic balast because they put out more light) with full-spectrum T8 bulbs. My wife uses these to start her garden from seed in March so they’re ready to go when it’s warm outside.

    2. high pressure Sodium lights are the best. Home depot sells them. You can use CFL’s but my fruits dont look as good as when i use hps. Also, hps is more efficient all though it tosses out a bunch of heat (but hey, this is WINTER growing, so depending on how you look at it, its free heat).

  1. I have it parked near a window right now so it gets daylight, but I plan on buying a small grow light for it soon. I may even make a lighted wood stand for it complete with a trellis for growing tomatoes as well. On wheels of course. Hey next week’s project just presented itself! :)

  2. nice work it looks just like the ones i ran in the backyard aquaponics for the last 2 years, the only suggestion i have is that you do not use the clear plastic bins even though they look so nice, they are not uv resistant and eventually will just explode at random. if you wrap them in black duct tape they will last about a year otherwise go with the more expensive rubbermaid… all in all nice job!!

  3. Stay away from the clear tubs. Light + Nutrient rich solution = algae within 3 days. That will make your ph get out of line and you can become toxic/ deficient to a lot of your nutes really quick.

    Source – 3+ years hydroponics experience, I run a site that sells kits similar to these starting at $35, but I do not spam the blogs I frequent ;)

    1. You’re right pretorious, I was about to comment that important point.

      Jorge Cervantes says:

      Algae grow on moist surfaces in the presence of light. Remove one or both of the elements (light or moisture) and the algae will disappear. Removing moisture is difficult but blocking light is very simple, just cover the growing medium with plastic or something to exclude the light and the algae cannot grow. You can also run an algaecide in the hydroponic nutrient solution.

    1. Well they’re certainly optional if you have cats as cat dung can serve as fertilizer… that is, of course, if you hate your plants and want to make them or anyone eating from them sick. There are organisms in cat and dog feces that can infect Humans. Seriously, don’t let your cat or dog “go” anywhere near any plants you or others might eat from.

      1. Edit: Oh for the love of all that derps. I re-looked at that picture and now see what you meant by cat guards. My confusion here stemmed from us having to put some grills over our marigold flower pots to keep our Samantha from getting in them and doing her dooty. My original warning about the dangers of cat/dog feces and food plants stands.

  4. I’ve read before that Pine can effect aquariums in strange ways (massively changing the PH balance…) – Not sure if the bark will do the same thing (in aquairums you using entire logs generally) but it might be something to bear in mind?

  5. I did something similar to this once, but after a few days/weeks the roots started rotting. I was using an air pump for bubbles too. I did more researching on hydroponics and then realized that your not supposed to leave the roots submerged indefinitely. Your supposed to use a medium that absorbs water and is also able to support the roots, and then submerge the roots and medium for a few minutes, then drain the water amd repeat the process every few hours.

    1. James – there are actually a bunch of different types of hydroponics setups, the type seen here is usually referred to as “deep water culture” where the plant roots remain submerged in nutrient solution. “Deep water” is sort of a misnomer as the water doesn’t have to be particularly deep. But you do need to change the nutrient solution regularly to keep bacterial growth at bay.

      I’m definitely curious to see how this project progresses, I’ve heard anecdotally that strawberries in particular don’t appreciate “having their feet wet,” and have more frequently seen them in a “Nutrient Film Technique” setup, where a small stream of nutrient runs along the bottom of a PVC pipe.

      1. It seems to me that reducing the water depth to about 1/4 of the height of the tub would do the job. Having the tips of the roots submerged and the rest staying damp from the high humidity created by the bursting bubbles. Adding another aquarium pump with 2 more air stones would likely help as well. I’ve seen a lot of DWC, but this one is deeper than most and may very well cause problems.

  6. Just a heads up, changing the nutrient solution every week or so is important in this type of setup unless you have a PH meter to measure PH. Small setups of this nature tend to go out of PH balance causing nutrient lock out and the plants will die.
    There is a PH meter in the picture but it is meant for soil and does not give accurate readings in hydroponics or a liquid medium.

  7. AN other note, depending on exposure to light and temperature water will grow mold. Would be a good idea to cover up reservoir with something such as electrical tape or something; especially if you planned on adding some light, obvious heat a light levels would be increased.

    PS: JAMES, your root rot problem…. you say you used air pump for bubbles but did you use an air stone? It important for the oxygen to be ionized in water other wise oxygen molecules would be to big and dense for roots to receive in water, plus the fact that it would just…. float away.

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