It's been slightly over a year since I installed the strawberry towers in the greenhouse. The plants have been producing like crazy. Each time I walk into the GH, I am greeted by the wonderful aroma of fresh fruit.
There isn't a huge amount to pick since there are only about 50 plants, but we are picking berries long before any of the local farms are producing. However, there is a cost to being the early bird. Because the plants are kept in a greenhouse there is a constant battle with aphids, white flies, and powdery mildew. Plus the added cost of keeping the GH slightly heated during the winter so the plants and fish can overwinter properly.
I'm loosing about 25% of my berries to the mildew. It's heartbreaking to see a perfectly good berry one day, and the next it's covered in mildew. The high humidity caused by the aquaponics setup is a factor, along with trying to push the growing season by keeping the vents closed to conserve heat.
I'm carefully logging thy quantity, weight, and volume! After coring, and discarding the bad ones, I was left with about 50 berries (2 cups & 8.55oz). I'm picking roughly every 3 days and am at around the peak right now and expect it to taper off soon.
Is it a viable solution for a commercial grower inside a greenhouse?....probably not. There is a tremendous amount of labor dealing with the insect and disease control. Every day, I go out and examine all the plants for diseased leaves and berries. Plus since it is so early in the season, there are no bees to pollinate the flowers - I go out each morning and "buzz" the flowers with an electric toothbrush. Works great!
NOTE: You can click on the images for a larger view!