Instead of rambling on like usual, I am going to jump right into the first in my new plant profile series. In this article, I feature one of my all-time favorite plants, Strawberries: How to Grow, Harvest and Use Strawberry Plants and Berries. Let jump into right it!
- Name: Strawberry (Fragaria)
- Popular varieties: Everbearing, June bearing, and Alpine
- Growing zone: Zones 3-9
Strawberry Physical Characteristics:
Low growing, creeping ground cover perennial berry, with charming white or pink spring flowers which are soon followed by plump, sweet, juicy, bright red berries.
How to Grow Strawberries:
Light Requirements: Strawberries prefer full sun to produce a bumper crop of berries. But they can survive as a luscious ground cover in partial shade, making them perfect for perennial gardens, patios, and even home orchards.
Soil Requirements: Strawberries prefer rich soil for ample production. They are very hardy and mine do well when mulched heavily with wood chips or straw.
Water Requirements: For plump berries, strawberries like regular watering, I plant mine on the same drip zone as my veggies, so they get watered every 2-3 days in my very hot climate.
Nutrient Requirements: Strawberries like some supplemental feeding. Homemade compost works great for adding nutrients to your strawberry bed. In the early spring I top my strawberry bed up with bedding from my chicken coop, the manure is watered in by the spring rains and the bedding helps create a nicely mulched bed, which these forest berries love.
Additional Information: Once you get the mulching and watering right, the biggest trouble with strawberries are the runners or baby plants that will eventually smother out your strawberry bed. Be ruthless and pluck, cut, trim or even mow those baby plants. They can easily be located in other garden beds, added to patio pots or sold at a roadside stand at the end of your drive. This may seem harsh, but it’s for the best of the mother plants, much like us, they have a hard time producing flowers, fruit, babies and staying healthy themselves, can we all relate? 😉
How and When to Harvest Strawberries:
Parts used: The berries! 😀 Harvest these delicious sugar bombs when they are red and plump. A ripe berry will pull away from the plant easily with a satisfying snapping sound.
Time for harvest: Depending on the variety of strawberry plant you chose, your berries can be ready to harvest all at once in early summer(June bearing) or all season long if you stay on top of harvesting(Ever bearing).
Harvest method: The trick for a bountiful berry crop is to harvest your ripe strawberries every day, or sometimes twice a day during peak season. Forgetting to harvest and letting the berries rot signals to the plant that its job is done and it’s production begins to decrease.
So, pick your berries every day. If you forget for a day or two, don’t forget to pick and discard the over-ripe and rotten ones. It’s gross but keeping your berry bed clean helps keep slugs, spit bugs, and ants away.
How to Use Strawberries:
Food: Eat your strawberries fresh while you can, if you have enough freeze them for the winter.
Heath and Wellness: Strawberries are rich in antioxidants and countless health benefits. I love adding them to my morning smoothie, cereal or oatmeal, but they are also great in salads and healthy deserts.
Beauty: Who knew you could use strawberries in your beauty routine?! Well, the seeds in mashed strawberries make a great natural exfoliant, they brighten your skin and are way better for the environment than plastic microbeads. Lean more on Beat the Microbead.org
Summing It Up: How to Grow, Harvest and Use Strawberries
Strawberries are easy to grow in any sunny location and can even be grown in patio pots and containers. During harvest season, pick strawberries every day or two for a continuous harvest. Add fresh strawberries to smoothies, salads or mash them for a naturally brightening and exfoliating face mask.
For more articles on how to grow, harvest and use some of my favorite plants see the links below:
Thanks for hanging out.
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