You can assemble 6 pieces (each 2.5metres long) of 75mm diameter PVC pipes and make one of these. With a good plumber, you do not require much than silicon glue to fix that. Of course some binding wire to hold the pipes to the poles and some media to hold the roots of the seedlings.
There are plenty of media used in hydroponics but in our case we love using volcanic rock (also known as pumice). It is locally available and cheaper. If collecting pumice that is not graded, one is advised to sieve out the small particles and at least ensure you have 8-16mm diameter particles. This will aid in ensuring air spaces within the root system.
Strawberries do not grow in water logged media. It is the reason we choose pumice since it is porous and light in weight. It also has a neutral pH and is stable. You can know whether to use a certain rock by carrying out the vinegar test. Vinegar test – Simply dip your specimen in a cup containing vinegar. If the rock starts bubbling, it is not fit to be used for hydroponic media. Also, you can test the pH of the media if you have a pH meter. Simply dip the media in distilled/deionized water (also known as Battery water). Check the pH and record. Let the media stay in the water for a week and check for any fluctuations in pH. Neutral pH (7.0) is best.
Before joining the pipes, put some little media in the pipe to ease the planting. The rest can be added during planting.
The crown of the strawberry seedling (black part in the photo above) should be planted correctly to avoid rotting. At least two-thirds of the crown should be above the media to avoid death of the seedlings. REMEMBER to trim the long roots before planting.
Before planting the seedlings, make sure you soak the roots in a nutrient rich solution for 1hour. Then soak them in plain water for 30minutes. This treatment ensures that the seedlings start out strong. You can do this as you assemble the pipes.
While planting, the seedling will be green and lovely to look at. Your heart normally beams with delight when you start visualizing how you will one day harvest sweet fruits from these seedlings. The scenario looks something close to the diagram below
The next day as you go to water your plants, you will find the green is not there. Do not let your heart be troubled. Those green leaves will all D.I.E. If your nutrient solution is well balanced, you will see new leaves after 7days max. We love such progress at Grandeur Africa. It is very addictive. Another green.
At this juncture we would want to urge you to invest in a pH/Ec Meter. Before you ask what that is, I will define it for you. pH is the measure of alkalinity or acidity in your nutrient solution. Ec stands for Electro-conductivity and is a measure of the strength of your nutrient solution. A pH/Ec meter therefore helps to measure these parameters and enable you to be well informed about the well-being of the strawberries.
The pH values suitable for strawberries and all other plants are 5.5 – 6.5.The Ec values suitable for strawberries specifically are 1800 – 2500 µS/cm.
We will talk about these values and their units in a separate article.
The watering of this system can be done manually or one can also employ a 0.5HP Pedrollo Pump that can also be connected to a timer with backup power.
You can also do flowers like the ones shown below. They are easy to propagate and do not need much attention.