2016 is our first year as growers of greenhouse strawberries.

Like our other produce, we’re growing our berry plants hydroponically – with one of Arjen’s special twists on the Nutrient Film Technique we use to grow our lettuces and soft herbs like basil.  To accommodate and stabilize our large berry pots we’ve built channels out of large-gauge PVC pipe and drilled holes that fit the pots closely.  These are suspended at about shoulder height in the greenhouse.  Right now they’re empty, and the baby plants are in the nursery house for just a little longer.

berrypipes_apr16When the new plants are moved into their channels, a stream of nutrient-rich water will flow endlessly past the bottoms of their pots, allowing their roots all the oxygen, moisture and nutrients they can absorb as they bulk up.  As the berries eventually form on the mature plants, their stalks will dangle down over the edges of the pots, where we can pick them at a comfortable height.

We’re trialing five varieties of berry this year, and the first flowers are forming on our earliest varieties.  It’s a bit heart-breaking to have to pinch the flowers off right now, but until the plants are hardy enough to bear the weight of large, juicy berries, they can’t be allowed to fruit.  Don’t worry – that will happen soon enough!  Stay tuned here for updates, or follow us on Facebook for the latest news.