The garden strawberry is a widely grown hybrid species of the genus Fragaria (collectively known as the strawberries).It is cultivated worldwide for its fruit. The fruit (which is not a botanical berry, but an aggregate accessory fruit) is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in such prepared foods as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, milkshakes, and chocolates. Artificial strawberry flavorings and aromas are also widely used in many products like lip gloss, candy, hand sanitizers, perfume, and many others.The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile by Amid-de-Francois Frozier in 1714. Cultivars of Fragaria ananassa have replaced, in commercial production, the woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), which was the first strawberry species cultivated in the early 17th century.
HOW TO GROW
- Strawberries have very shallow roots, so it is easy to grow them in pots, both indoors and out. You can place your strawberry plants on a balcony, patio or indoors in front of a sunny window. While potted strawberries can be planted any time of the year, it is best to plant them in spring if they’re going to be outdoors as well as indoors.
- Choose a potting container with drainage holes.Although you can buy special strawberry pots that have multiple openings, it isn’t absolutely necessary; strawberries can grow and produce fruit in any container that has good soil and gets enough sunlight.
- Place broken terracotta or ceramics at the base of the container, or large pebbles/small rocks. These will help ensure good drainage.
- Fill the pot two-thirds full with potting mix.The strawberry pot should have at least an 18” diameter. Even though strawberries have shallow roots, they do produce runners that need some space to extend.
- Strawberries thrive in soil that has a pH between 5.3 and 6.5, so select a potting soil with that ratio. It’s a good idea to keep your soil rich by adding a handful of compost to the container once a month.
- If growing in a tall and narrow unglazed strawberry jar, add a quarter peat moss before adding the soil, to increase the moisture-retaining ability of the jar.
- If growing in a hanging basket, line the basket with sphagnum moss and use peaty soil. Again, this is to retain moisture for the plants. Sphagnum moss will also allow for the plant to grow out the sides of the pot, which looks nice.
- Water the soil until the water starts to drain from the bottom of the pot.Then make 5 or 6 mounds of soil about 1” (25.4 mm) tall. Space the mounds at least 6” (152.4 mm) apart so that the runners will have room to roam. The mounds themselves shouldn’t be more than 3” (76.2 mm) wide.
- Gently lift your strawberry plants from their nursery pots.If necessary, cut the pot with scissors if the plant is wedged in too tightly. Carefully shake off the extra soil while separating the delicate roots with your fingers.
- Fill a bucket or other container with water.Soak the strawberry roots for an hour, so they can absorb enough to keep them hydrated.
- Remove the plants from the soaking water and set a plant on top of each soil mound.Arrange the roots so that they extend down the sides of the mounds.
- Fill the pot with more soil, bringing the soil to the level of the plant’s crown.The stems emerge from the crown, so don’t bury it under the soil.
- Water the plants thoroughly.Continue to gently water until the pot begins to drain. (Add more soil if necessary—the thorough watering will often collapse air pockets and reduce the soil level.)
- Use a watering can with a sprinkler attachment to avoid eroding the soil.
- The container can now be placed outside (hanging or sitting on the ground), or in a warm and sunny spot inside.
- Harvest when ready.Wait for a few to accumulate or simply eat them as they ripen. How many you’ll get per harvest will depend on the amount you’ve grown and the container’s size.
- In the first year, pick off blossoms to discourage plants from fruiting. If not allowed to bear fruit, they will spend their food reserves on developing healthy roots. The yields will be much greater in the second year.
- Eliminate daughter plants as needed. First and second generations produce higher yields. Try to space each plant about 10 inches apart.
- Moisture is incredibly important due to shallow roots. Water adequately, about one inch per week. They need a lot of water when the runners and flowers are developing and again in the fall when the plants are mature.
- Keep the beds mulched to reduce water needs and weed invasion.
- Be diligent about weeding. Weed by hand, especially in the first months after planting.
- When the growing season is over, mow or cut foliage down to one inch and mulch plants about 4 inches deep with straw, pine needles or other organic material. This can be done after the first couple of frosts, or when air temps reach 20 F.
- Remove mulch in early spring, after danger of frost has passed.
- Row covers are a good option for protecting blossoms and fruit from birds.
- Grey Mold
- Powdery Mildew
- Japanese Beetles
- Spider Mites
- Regular consumption of anthocyanins, a class of flavonoids found in berries, can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 32% in young and middle-aged women.
- Women who consumed at least 3 servings of strawberries or blueberries per week fared best in the Harvard study.
- The high polyphenol content in strawberries may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
- The antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, and anthocyanins have all been shown to reduce the formation of harmful blood clots associated with strokes. High potassium intakes have also been linked with a reduced risk of stroke.
- As mentioned above, strawberries contain powerful antioxidants that work against free radicals, inhibiting tumor growth and decreasing inflammation in the body.
- Due to their high potassium content, strawberries are recommended to those with high blood pressure to help negate the effects of sodium in the body.
- Eating foods that are high in water content and fiber like strawberries, grapes, watermelon and cantaloupe can help to keep you hydrated and your bowel movements regular. Fiber is essential for minimizing constipation and adding bulk to the stool.
- Strawberries are a low glycemic index food and high in fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar and keep it stable by avoiding extreme highs and lows. Strawberries are a smart fruit choice for diabetics, as they have a lower glycemic index (40) than many other fruits do.
- Adequate folic acid intake is essential for pregnant women to protect against neural tube defects in infants.
- Folate may also help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but sleep and appetite as well.