Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lots of dried, undeveloped strawberries--Update on the strawberries

It's been a while since I gave an update of the strawberry plants. Here's what they look like today.

Pretty impressive looking, huh? Out of all the plants I planted, only one didn't grow. Again, nice job by Aerogrow on that third batch.

I wish I could say that by now I've harvested bushels of strawberries and have been making pies, jams, and shortcakes. But alas, I've seen about 10 strawberries so far and they all look something like this.

Shriveled, brown, and looking more like a cluster of seeds than a fruit. There are a couple reasons this is happening:

1) I'm not pollinating right. Strawberries coming out malformed or small are usually due to lack of pollination. I followed AeroGrow's instructions and each time I pass by the plant I dutifully give it a good shake. But it doesn't look like that's enough to really spread the pollen. The other problem is that I sometimes don't even see the flowers until it's too late. I think the next step is going to be for me to pay closer attention to see when the flowers are budding and then use a Q-Tip or an artist's brush to hand pollinate them.

2) I'm not watering right. There have been a couple times I check the water and it's bone dry inside. Between the coco chunks and the amount of water the growing plants suck up so much water, I find that the reservoir dries up much faster than with a regular Aerogarden growth. The Grow Bowl really requires you to constantly fill up with water. But watch out--fill it a little too much and water will spill over the side, a lesson I learned a few times.

3) I'm not adding enough nutrients. Looking at the washed-out leaves, I'm wondering if the plants are lacking nutrients. I've been adding old packets of nutrients from past Aerogardens, but I think it might be time for me to go to the bottle of fresh nutrients that got shipped with the product.

4) The temperature is off. The weather and our heating system has been weird lately, meaning really cold nights and occasional periods where it's really warm. I think that might be affecting the plants as well.

So far, there's only one strawberry that looks like it might have a chance.

Its odd shape is a telltale sign of it not being pollinated well, but at least there's a little meat to it. We'll see if it continues to grow.

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