How to grow strawberries at home year-round
The cultivation of strawberries is traditionally associated with a garden or a greenhouse, and few know that this berry can be planted not only in an ordinary city apartment, but also get a very good harvest. Those who are interested in the idea of organizing a small home garden on their own windowsill will find in this review all the secrets and technology of this unusual agricultural solution.
The best varieties
A beginner gardener needs to learn that not all strawberries, or rather strawberries, can be planted and grown at home, since from a botanical point of view, everyone's favorite berry is strawberries. Therefore, the first condition that is important to observe is the correct choice of variety.
According to gardeners, for this purpose are best suited:
Features of the selection of varieties
The above list is not exhaustive, therefore it is not necessary to limit it to them at all. But it is important to understand that not always those options that are offered to be purchased in specialized stores as a houseplant will in fact provide the owner with a real crop.
In particular, many strawberry varieties form very beautiful and decorative bushes, but at the same time make such high demands on lighting, humidity, temperature and other parameters of care that they normally bear fruit only in professional greenhouses with a modern automated system for supporting a constant microclimate.
Further, for the windowsill, you need to select a type of plant that gives a crop not once a year, but constantly or at least in waves. The first category of berries forms a group of so-called neutral daylight varieties, the second - a maintenance group (we often confuse these concepts). Another property that you need to pay attention to when choosing a variety is the method of plant propagation. As you know, strawberries reproduce using seeds or vegetatively (mustache), while seed species, respectively, practically do not form a mustache. Propagation of strawberries with a mustache.
The second group of varieties is objectively more suitable for growing a house, since it is much easier to take care of such a crop (there is no need to constantly remove the mustache, which still has nowhere to grow in the pot). Of course, it is much longer to germinate the seed than to use a socket that is ready and nourished by the mother plant, but the time and effort spent will pay off with an easier process of further care.
Finally, since in the absence of such natural pollinators as wind and insects, abundant fruiting of strawberries at home can be achieved only if the selected variety is:
- high yielding.
Preference should be given to the most unpretentious varieties, since the microclimate of a city apartment is still far from the ideal that is necessary for the normal development and abundant fruiting of strawberries.
Choosing a landing place
You can grow homemade strawberries either in the apartment itself on the windowsill, or on a closed balcony. Both options have a right to exist, but in each case has its own characteristics.
The window sill is the most lighted place in the house, in addition, in this case, the bed is located in a residential building, where the air temperature never drops below the permissible sanitary standards.
- However, such a place for placing a home garden has several important disadvantages:
- limited space (not every window sill has an area sufficient to accommodate so many plants on it that it could compete with even the smallest bed);
- lack of decorativeness (turning a living room into a kind of garden is a decision that not every housewife will like);
- dry air (traditionally, central heating radiators are located precisely under the windowsill, and intensely heated air, rising up, literally dries the delicate and moisture-loving bushes).
Closed insulated balcony
Those who have a private balcony are much more likely to create a small greenhouse on it. But here there are some difficulties. This is due primarily to the fact that in most cases balconies are not heated, which means that in winter the air temperature in such a room is too low for growing fruit crops.
In addition, even a closed balcony, as a rule, is not completely airtight, and drafts can cause strawberries no less harm than cold or dry air. In this way, the choice between window sill and balcony - an individual questiondepending on many factors that need to be carefully weighed.
Did you know? By the content of vitamin C, strawberries are almost one and a half times ahead of lemon.
Not the least role here is played by the orientation of the room to the cardinal points, because good lighting is a fundamentally important condition for the fruit to ripen. Therefore, the north side is absolutely not suitable for growing strawberries (artificial illumination can become an alternative, but in this case the process becomes too complicated and costly, so it’s easier to abandon the idea).
The necessary conditions
Strawberries - a culture that requires for itself very specific conditions. The future result will directly depend on how well they are created.
Even neutral daylight strawberry varieties, which are most suitable for growing on the windowsill, still need good lighting. This parameter for this group does not have such fundamental importance as for short daylight varieties, mainly growing in beds, however, the problem is that in the shade or partial shade the large, sweet and red berry simply cannot ripen.
Experts note the following relationship between the length of daylight hours (the time when the bushes are intensively lit) and the period from the time of planting to harvesting strawberries:
|The number of light hours per day||The number of days from planting to flowering||Number of days from planting to harvest|
Thus, the more sunny the place where the strawberry pots are placed, the better.
At different stages of the growing season, strawberries change their preferences regarding the optimum temperature. So during the period of gaining green mass, the bushes feel comfortable in the range + 15 ... + 20ºС (night temperature can be 5–8 degrees lower, therefore, at this stage the plant can develop normally even on a poorly heated balcony).However, by the beginning of flowering and fruiting, strawberries are increasingly in need of heat, and it is very important to increase the temperature gradually to an optimum of + 25ºС. At home, such a regime, of course, is difficult to ensure, but striving to comply with it is still necessary.
Important! In professional greenhouses, special automated systems are used to grow wild strawberries, which allow you to gently and “imperceptibly” raise the temperature as the plant enters the flowering phase.
The requirements of strawberries to the humidity regime are also unstable, but the inverse relationship is observed here: young plants need very humid air (85–90%, which is completely unrealistic in a living room), but at the stage of flowering and fruiting, the humidity level should be reduced to quite comfortable for person and even recommended by sanitary standards 70–75%.
For growing strawberries at home, it is best to purchase a ready-made substrate (in specialized stores you can find peat or agro-vermiculite mixtures specifically designed for this garden crop).
However, you can prepare nutritious soil on your own, it is important that it matches the following parameters:
- acidity - neutral or acidic (pH level in the range of 4.5–5.5);
- fertility - high (it is important not only to have the proper concentration of humus, but also the balance of minerals - phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, etc.);
- breathability and water permeability - high.
The best option is peat diluted with river sand or vermiculite in a ratio of 3: 1. It is also possible to take land from coniferous forests as the basis (such soil initially has high acidity) and dilute it with a mixture of peat and sand.
Important! Garden soil, even taken from a strawberry bed, is not suitable for growing strawberries at home: such soil in a small pot is quickly compressed, and the plant will suffer from a lack of oxygen in the roots.
In order not to be mistaken with the size of the pots, you need to know that strawberries are a plant with a superficial root system. The maximum depth of the roots of the berries is 25-30 cm, respectively, this is the parameter that should be taken as the basis for the minimum height of the pot or box.
There are several more recommendations that you need to consider when selecting a container:
|Colour||Desirable light, otherwise the roots will overheat|
|The presence of drainage holes||Necessarily, the plant does not tolerate stagnation of water in the roots|
|Material||Wood or burnt clay (ceramics). Plastic is less suitable because this material does not allow air to pass through, and good “ventilation” in the root system is important for strawberries. Peat pots are also not suitable, because their walls let moisture through, which means that the plants will quickly dry out.|
|Optimal tare volume||3-10 l|
Seed growing technology
In the open ground, strawberries are most often propagated by the vegetative method (mustache), the seed method, as a more complex and long one, has not been widely used. However, for growing on the windowsill, sowing berries with seeds is considered the best option, because, as already mentioned, caring for non-mustache-forming varieties at home is much easier.
When to sow
Since growing strawberries at home is a year-round process, there are no fundamental requirements for the timing of sowing seeds. Taking into account the above requirements that the plant presents to the temperature regime at different stages of its development, it is advisable to sow during the period when the boxes with seedlings for germination can still be kept on the open balcony, that is, depending on climatic conditions, at the beginning or mid September.In this case, by the time the seedlings get a little stronger, they can be transferred to heat, thereby creating natural conditions for the plant to stimulate budding processes.
Did you know? The optimal time for sowing seeds according to the lunar calendar is the phase of the growing moon. But the full moon and new moon for this process is considered an extremely unfavorable period.
Seeding technology looks like this:
- Put the prepared peat mixture in wooden boxes or cassettes for seedlings, previously, like the seeds, decontaminated by abundant watering with potassium permanganate solution.
- Water the soil mixture liberally and let the water soak a little.
- Put seeds on the surface of the substrate. Better to take them not with your hands, but gently pry them off with a toothpick or the tip of a knife. The distance between the seeds, if not individual, but common, is used, should be approximately 30 mm.
- “Cover” the seeds with a thin, not more than 1-2 mm, layer of moistened substrate, but after that no longer water it.
- Tighten the containers with a transparent film and puncture small ventilation holes in it.
- Remove the resulting mini-greenhouses in a warm and well-lit place (however, direct sunlight should not fall on the film, since in this case the soil can quickly overheat and dry out).
Until the emergence of seedlings, maintenance of the mini-greenhouse consists in periodically ventilating the container and wetting the surface of the soil with warm water (you can add any growth stimulator to it) from the spray gun.
It is impossible to water the soil until the sprouts appear, since water can “carry” the seeds into the depths of the container, which will not only delay the germination process, but can also make it impossible: the seeds of strawberries need light to form sprouts.
When friendly sprouts appear on the surface of the soil (usually it takes from 3 to 3.5 weeks), the film must be removed. From this moment on, it is necessary to monitor the constant moisture of the soil even more closely, since the air in a city apartment is usually very dry, and gentle strawberry seedlings can not withstand drought yet.
After the seedlings have a pair of the first true leaves, they can be transplanted into individual containers or boxes prepared in advance for this purpose (in the latter case, the distance between plants should be at least 10-15 cm).
Some gardeners dive later, after the formation of 4-5 true leaves (at this stage usually seedlings are planted in open ground), however, it is important to understand the basic rule: the earlier the transplant is made, the easier it is tolerated by the plant.
Important! Since pots with wide drainage holes are used to grow wild strawberries, as well as a very light peat mixture, expanded clay or other drainage as a lower layer, it is not necessary to lay in the planting containers, it is better to use the entire height of the flowerpot as a “usable area”.
After the container is filled with a nutrient substrate, it is necessary to make small recesses in it (it is very convenient to do this with a sushi stick or just with your finger). Then, slightly warmed water should be poured into the prepared well, in which it can be diluted according to the instructions of “Epin”, “Kornevin” or another drug stimulating root formation.When the water is absorbed a little, you can start planting. For this, a teaspoon seedling is removed from the ground along with an earthen lump, carefully moved to the hole, pressed on all sides with a substrate and carefully compacted soil. All other plants are transplanted in the same way.
After landing care
During the first weeks after planting, young plants need especially careful care, but those who are counting on a good harvest should not relax even after the bushes get stronger.
Strawberries should be watered abundantly and regularly, while at the same time avoiding stagnation of water in the pot. Until the bushes bloom, they can and should be sprayed, since this procedure partially solves the problem of overdried air in a city apartment, to which the plant is especially sensitive at a young age.
Important! Excessive watering of strawberries is one of the reasons for the development of fungal infections, especially root ones. The risk of the disease increases if waterlogging is combined with cool air.
However, during flowering and fruiting, only root watering is used, and at the last stage, when the berries began to pick up color, its intensity needs to be slightly reduced, this will provide the fruits with a sweeter and more saturated taste.
When growing strawberries at home, a complex of three preparations is used to feed the plant, providing the plant with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, respectively:
- ammonium nitrate;
- potassium salt;
Fertilizers are applied by the root method after abundant watering once a week. For 1 liter of water, 4 g of the nitrogen and phosphorus component and 1 g of potash are used. As soon as the first ovaries appear on the bush, fertilizing should be stopped and the procedure should be resumed only after the fruiting phase is complete.
Most varieties of strawberries have bisexual flowers, that is, strictly speaking, they are self-pollinated. However, even in greenhouses where a modern ventilation system is in place, without the so-called pollination, yields are significantly reduced. At home, artificial pollination is simply necessary. This can be done in several ways - from gently shaking the flower to blowing the "beds" with a fan.
Ultimately, you need to ensure that pollen from one flower falls on the stigma of another. Some gardeners do this manually with a soft brush, which sequentially processes each flower. If you have certain skills, this method is optimal for a small number of bushes.
Trimming strawberries is an agrotechnical technique, the expediency of which in recent years raises more and more doubts even among gardeners practicing the cultivation of this crop in open ground. Home plants definitely do not need to be cut, only old and dried leaves are subject to removal.But room strawberries really need to ration the crop, and we are talking exclusively about plants grown by the method of sowing seeds. To increase future crops, the very first few flower stalks formed on such a bush must be carefully removed. Strawberry propagated vegetatively does not require such a procedure.
Did you know? The tiny grooves that cover the surface of the strawberry berry are the places where seeds occur. In this culture, unlike most other plants, the seeds are located not inside the fruit, but outside, and up to 300 can be formed on each instance.
Depending on how strawberries were grown (seeds or seedlings), the first crop can be expected at different times. So, young seedlings, planted at home, are taken quite quickly and after a month with a little after planting begin to bloom. Fruiting, respectively, occurs even after 4-5 weeks.For those who decide to grow strawberries from seeds, the waiting time for the harvest will last at least another 2 months, that is, from sowing to the first fruits at least 4 months, and sometimes more, must pass.
Growing strawberries with seedlings requires a gardener much less effort and time than sowing seeds. To do this, it is enough to purchase already grown seedlings in a specialized store and simply transplant it into a new pot, using the above recommendations regarding capacity, soil composition, planting technology, etc.
You can use sockets grown from a mustache in a summer cottage for the “indoor” garden, digging them out of the ground in the fall and dropping them off. Moreover, if the mustache is not rooted in the ground, but immediately in small pots placed directly on the bed, the rooted young plant will not even need to be transplanted, it remains only to separate it from the mother bush, cutting the “umbilical cord”.
Did you know? Arnaud’s Restaurant, located in New Orleans (Louisiana, USA), serves strawberry dessert worth $ 1.4 million per serving. The chef decorates the berries covered with the most delicate cream and a five-carat pink diamond, which determines the “cosmic” cost of the dish.
However, in this case, it should be remembered that the variety grown on the bed is not always suitable for a city apartment (however, if the experiment is unsuccessful, in the spring a grown bush can be transplanted to the bed again after a fairly comfortable wintering).
Diseases and Pests
If the soil for planting strawberries was chosen correctly and went through the disinfection procedure, diseases and pests do not usually bother the plant, in any case, the probability of its damage is much lower than when grown in open ground.However, if agricultural cultivation techniques are not followed, untreated garden tools are used, or the bush comes in contact with infected indoor plants, problems can still arise. In this case, an accurate diagnosis and emergency care is very important.
Spider mite is one of the main pests affecting both indoor and garden plants. By the characteristic traces left by this parasite on the leaves, it is very easy to identify it. To save the bush in the early stages (and it is better not to bring it to a more advanced phase) by spraying the aerial parts of the plant with garlic infusion.To prepare the product, 2-3 peeled cloves of garlic should be passed through a crush and pour 100 ml of water, then mix well and let it brew for 2-3 hours. Then strain the water and use immediately for spraying.
As already mentioned, the main reason for the development of root rot is a violation of the irrigation regime, primarily waterlogging of the soil at low ambient temperatures. In the vast majority of cases, this type of fungal disease is diagnosed at a stage when the treatment is already ineffective, especially since the systemic fungicides commonly used for these purposes are too toxic to be used indoors, where people also live.
Therefore, the affected plant can only be tried to be helped in a radical way - by immediate transplantation into fresh soil, and during the procedure, the root system should be treated with a weak solution of potassium permanganate or another disinfectant. The soil in which the bush grew must be discarded.
Aphids are the worst enemy of wild strawberries, but, fortunately, they practically do not affect domestic plants, since this insect is most often carried by garden ants, while they have nowhere to take at home. The source of infection may be the soil in which aphids winter, which is why the land must be etched before planting.
But if a small sucking insect is still found on the bushes, strawberries can be treated with a mild soapy solution, with special emphasis on the bottom of the leaves. If necessary, after a few days the procedure is repeated, and when the insects die, the bush can simply be carefully rinsed under the shower.
This fungal infection is easily recognized by the characteristic ash coating on the leaves. The fruits of an infected plant have a watery structure and are often covered with dark spots. The main reason for the spread of the disease is improper watering, violation of temperature and humidity.
It is possible to cure the plant without resorting to toxic drugs using ordinary iodine. To prepare the working solution, 20 ml of whey, 1 liter of water are mixed and 1-2 drops of iodine are added to the resulting liquid. The tool is used by spraying.
The black leg is an unscientific name. This term refers to a number of different infections, caused mainly by soil fungi and affecting primarily seedlings. It is quite difficult to deal with the disease, however, it arises solely due to agrotechnical errors, primarily the combination of high humidity and low temperatures.
When a characteristic dark ring appears in the lower part of the seedling, it follows:
- stop or reduce watering;
- a few days later, if the problem persists, water the plant with a weak solution of manganese permanganate or a biofungicide diluted according to the instructions (Fitosporin M, Bactofit, Planriz, etc.) - such drugs are non-toxic and can be used even indoors, although it is better Of course, the situation cannot be brought to the point of their application.