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Strawberries

This very popular fruit is easy to grow no matter how big or small your garden is. Even those with nothing but a courtyard, balcony or doorstep can grow them in pots. There are varieties that produce runners and those that don't produce runners or produce very few. Home grown strawberries taste much better than supermarket strawberries because they can be picked when completely ripe.

strawberry plant

Growing Strawberries

Sow seeds in spring or autumn. Strawberries can tollerate warmer climates than other berries and are very adaptable. You can also propagate strawberries by runners - simple plant the runner in a pot (or the ground) and in a couple of months it will have produced enough roots of its own and will be ready to be separated from the mother plant. Barerooted strawberries can be planted in winter or early spring.

Strawberries are susceptible to a number of viral diseases. If you want to propagate strawberries using runners, this is best done with runners from a healthy 1 year old plant. Otherwise, you can buy certified disease free seedlings and seeds from reputable nurseries.

Harvesting Strawberries

With careful planning of strawberry varieties, it is possible to harvest fresh strawberries from late spring to mid autumn. With a greenhouse I have heard of people being able to harvest strawberries for all but 1 month of the year! Berries should be a rich deep red colour (except for white fruiting varieties) and firm before they are harvested. You may need to use a bit of trial and error before you can recognise when your strawberries are ready to harvest.

Using Strawberries

Strawberries and cream is a popular dessert.

Strawberry Nutrition

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese and iron and are a reasonable source of fibre, folic acid, a range of B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. This makes them a valuable alternative to fatty fish for those who prefer not to eat fish. Strawberries also contain anthocyanins, which are chemicals that help protect against cancer and damage caused by free radicals. They appear to be easily lost when fruit is processed so growing your own anthocyanin producing foods is the best way to obtain these valuable phytochemicals (plant chemicals).

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