Delicious and pesticides-free strawberries can be grown indoors. Learn how compact fluorescent light & organic potting soil can be used to grow strawberries.
Strawberry is a perennial plant from the rose family (Rosaceae). The strawberries produce nutrient-rich and delicious fruits, noted for their high contents of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and foliate. They also contain significant amounts of potassium, bioflavonoids, and antioxidants. Strawberries can be grown indoors and they can be grown organically in containers.
A major disadvantage of growing the strawberries outdoors is that it is difficult to grow them outdoors without using pesticides and unhealthy chemicals. Along with apples and bell peppers, strawberries are among the top 10 pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables in our menu. Growing strawberries indoors avails one the opportunity to reduce the number and amount of chemical pollutants that can be consumed with the fruits.
The first step in growing strawberries indoors is choosing the suitable variety of strawberry plant for growing indoors. Availability of space indoors; the productivity of the plant; the size and flavor of the fruits are some of the factors taken into consideration when choosing the variety of strawberries for growing indoors.
The three most widely used variety of strawberries for growing indoors are the Everbearing, Day Neutral and the June Bearing. These varieties do not send out as many runners as the other varieties of strawberries. This quality makes them ideal for growing in small spaces.
Strawberries can be grown easily from seeds or from cutting and rooting. Plants started from seeds can take two to three years to reach maturity. Those started from cutting (from an existing plant) and rooting can reach maturity within a few months. This later method is the preferred method for propagating the strawberries.
A deep container, such as a 12 to 15-inch deep terra cotta pot, is recommended for growing strawberry indoors. A good organic potting soil should be used. This soil may be improved by adding 25% coarse sand (i.e., 3 parts organic potting soil to 1 part coarse sand).
Place a few pebbles in the bottom of the pot and fill it ¾ full with organic potting soil. The soil should drain well and have good water holding capacity. It should also have a pH of 5.3 to 6.5. The optimum pH for strawberry growth and performance is 6.0.
Strawberry plant, started by cutting from an organic strawberry, should be used for propagation. Before transplanting this new plant into the soil in the terra cotta pot, the new plant should be cleaned. Cleaning comprises of trimming or removing the old and damaged roots as well as removing old leaves and any runners. Roots should be trimmed to 4 or 5 inches. Pre-soak the roots for one hour before transplanting.
Position the plant in the potting soil so that the crown is at the same level as the soil surface. Cover the roots and gently tap down on the soil to keep the new plant in place. Water gently. Water gently (with water spray bottle every 4 to 7 days) to keep the soil moist (but not soggy) as the plant grows.
Strawberry is a sun-loving plant. Artificial light, using compact fluorescent light, can be used to supply the needed sun energy. The plant should be exposed to the fluorescent light for 12 to 16 hours each day.
A good organic soil releases plant nutrients slowly, so the plant does not need frequent fertilization. Fertilizer may be applied when the strawberry is flowering and bearing fruits. A weak solution of fish and seaweed fertilizer such as Sea Rich from Gardens Alive should be used.
Aphids and spider mites are the likely sources of pest problems for strawberries indoors. They can be controlled using a garlic-based home-made pesticide . Garlic (1 bunch), 3 large onions and 3 hot peppers are ground up and soaked in water overnight. Next morning, the mixture is filtered, and the filtrate is diluted to 1 gallon (16 cups). It can then be used to spray the affected plants.
One can harvest and enjoy these delicious strawberries when they are ripe. Strawberries are ready for harvesting when the fruits turn red. Knowing that these fruits are grown in the absence of harmful pesticides and dangerous chemicals gives one the confidence that he/she is consuming a healthy, natural and nutrient-rich food. This knowledge has a way of making the fruit more flavorful and more enjoyable.