Strawberries exhibit better growth and higher quality when grown in coconut fiber, or coir, than soil, one research group recently determined. If you’re interested in growing strawberries in coco coir for superior results, here’s how.
Purchase the Right Coir
Coco coir is a natural fit for strawberry growth for several reasons. Coir retains water much more efficiently than soil, so strawberry plants require less frequent watering. Coir also has a high level of aeration, and strawberries’ root systems need lots of oxygen.
When shopping for coir with which to grow strawberries, it’s imperative to check the labels. Strawberries require calcium for optimal growth, and coco coir doesn’t contain significant amounts of calcium naturally. Some coir products have calcium added, but if not, you might need to add other materials to the potting mix.
Choose the Garden Setup
Strawberries require full sun at least six hours per day, so choose your space for strawberries carefully. If the space selected is exposed to harsh winds, consider a form of protection for strawberries against the wind.
Next, select an appropriate container for growing strawberries in coco coir. Vertical garden towers are increasing in popularity in urban areas because they require less space. You can also plant strawberries in hanging baskets. Coco coir is a great choice for either of these garden setups because it’s lightweight, making vertical gardens easy to transport. It also won’t weigh down hanging baskets.
Choose the Strawberry Carefully
There are three main varieties of strawberries. June-bearing strawberries are favorites among commercial farmers because of their high yield. Strawberries ripen within 30 days of blooming and provide the grower 10 days to harvest.
Day-neutral strawberries bear fruit through the growing season, with three peak periods of fruiting. These strawberries can bear fruit all summer long and into the fall.
Everbearing strawberries produce two crops per year, beginning in spring and intermittently through summer and fall. This variety isn’t as high-quality or high-yielding as others.
Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries are recommended for growing in smaller spaces.
Assuming the coco coir purchased does not have calcium added already, add perlite or gypsum prior to planting. One of the recommended potting mix combinations is 50 percent coir, 30 percent perlite, and 20 percent compost.
Put potting mix in your chosen container. Always plant strawberries in the late afternoon. Plant strawberry seedlings in the coir, leaving some space between them. Cover the roots, but not the seedlings’ crown, in coir. A few weeks after you’ve planted the seedlings, you’ll notice them sending out ‘runners’ of their own.
Keeping the Strawberry Plant Healthy
Once strawberry plants grow larger, you’ll see more and more runners. Prune the plant, cutting back most or all of the runners so the plant’s energy will go toward fruit production. Harvest strawberries four to six weeks after blossoming. Use a sharp knife to cut the stem, never pulling at the strawberries for risk of damaging the plant. After the harvest, remove any dead plants or weeds, add more potting mix or compost, and water the soil to promote new growth.
Growing strawberries in coco coir will yield more high-quality fruit than any other media.