Strawberries

Strawberries

Strawberries are among the favorite fruit of my whole family, including the lizard. (I suspect the cat will gnaw on the leaves as well, right now she is enamored with kale and parsley. Weirdo.) But strawberries purchased in the produce section tend to be bland and frozen strawberries often require sugar to be palatable and while dried strawberries have their place, it is a bitter bitter place if not cooked in something with lots of sugar. Jam is good. But the true strawberry connoisseur knows that to truly enjoy strawberries it's pay lots at a farmer's market, find a good local U-pick or grow them yourself. Luckily there are varieties that grow well in pots or so I'm told. (I suck at pots. I've killed mint.) I may try to grow some in pots at some point, but right now I'm focusing on putting them in the ground.

My previous experience with strawberries proves them to be prolific. I got a few plants from my mom and planted them in a raised bed I made from the frame of a replaced porch at the old house. They had filled the bed by the end of the first year and the following spring we had plenty of tasty strawberries. Our bearded dragon loved to spend summer afternoons stalking the berries in that bed. That was the hardest thing to leave behind when we had to give up that house.

Strawberries is a Annual plant that grows best in zones 0 through 0

Light requirements: shade 
Soil Requirements: moderately rich
Moisture requirements: dry

Strawberries is best planted in shade in dry, moderately rich, acidic soil, any soil.

Flowers

appear in the Winter

Fruit

appear in the Winter.

Strawberries is best planted in the Winter for a Winter harvest

Strawberries is drought tolerant.
Strawberries is shade tolerant

Growing Strawberries

Strawberries enjoy a sunny spot, but don't mind a little shade. They like a nice, sandy, neutral soil. They are generally sold as bare root plants or strawberry crowns. Or you might dig some up from a friend's garden. Either way, they are planted pretty much the same.

These should be planted in a hole that's wide enough to spread out the roots and deep enough to cover them just to the base of the plant. They should be planted about 12 inches apart. They will fill in as they grow. Mulch around your plants and continue to keep them mulched. A nice bed of mulch in the spring and autumn will do. You can use straw, chopped leaves raked from your yard or fine wood chips. I am using woodchips at the moment because I have an abundance from some trees we had to take down for insurance purposes last year, but I am told straw works much better. I usually shred my autumn leaves and use that for their pre-dormancy mulching (though I will probably use woodchips again this fall. Last year's operation has left us with a shortage of leaves to go with our abundance of wood chips. Soon to be amended.)

If you mulch regularly, the decaying mulch will give your strawberries a good bit of nutrition. Too much fertilizer will result in lots of leaves and few berries. But if you feel your strawberries need more, you can give them a good munch of compost after your first harvest when your mulch is getting thin. Or you can use one of those specialty strawberry fertilizers. I personally have never done this. I have never fertilized strawberries beyond their regular mulching and neither has my mother.

Strawberries are pretty hardy and drought tolerant, but they must be kept well-watered and their roots kept cool with mulch during berry picking season. After that you can pretty much ignore them (once they are well-established).

Strawberries reproduce by sending out runners. Where these touch the ground they will root and a new plant will grow that is genetically identical to its parent. These can be invasive, so you'll have to keep an eye on this if you want to avoid annoying your neighbors. Different varieties have differing levels of aggression in this regard. I have heard that picking the flowers off the berries before they allowed to fruit increases the likelihood of runners and I have also heard that you should do this the first year to prevent your berries from producing fruit before they are well-established and strong. I have never picked flowers off my strawberries. Who has time for that?

Choosing a Strawberry Variety

June bearing strawberries produce one big crop of strawberries in June. You get to pick for about 3 weeks on these and they tend to be bigger than other types. These guys tend to send out lots of runners and aren't very good at staying put, but they are very good at reproducing themselves. If you get a shovelful of strawberries from your friend who is overrun, it'll likely be these.

June bearing strawberries come in mid, late and early season varieties. If you like June bearing but want to extend your season, I suggest getting a few varieties and mixing it up.

Everbearing strawberries don't really produce forever. During the growing season they'll go through flowering, fruiting and resting cycles until their time is up and it gets too cold for that business. You will get at least two harvests a year out of these guys. Maybe three if you've got a long growing season. Everbearing strawberries do not have the reputation the June-bearing types do for sending out runners.

Day neutral strawberries continue to produce fruit and flowers all season long. You won't get as much at one time, which can be a disadvantage if you're planning a jam-making session, but it is great for folks that like to have a few fresh berries every day.

Harvesting and Storing Strawberries

Strawberries taste best if they are allowed to fully ripen on the plant. This is why store bought strawberries are so bland. They are harvested early so that they can last longer on the store shelves and they never fully ripen. To get the best flavor out of your strawberries, wait an extra day after you think they're perfect and then snap them off from the stem, leaving the little green cap on. Store them in a basket (for ventilation) in a cool, dark location and use them quickly.

They get mushy and moldy fast. Washing them hastens this process, so don't wash them 'till you're ready to use them. Rinse them quickly and wait to remove the caps after you've rinsed them because strawberries and absorb water and this will dilute their flavor.

Uses for Strawberries

Strawberries are best fresh from the garden, but if you have to refrigerate them for a few days before eating them, you should let them come to room temperature before eating for best flavor.

For a refreshing summer treat, throw 3-4 strawberries into a blender with cold water and blend to make flavored water. My yoga buddy showed me this. She uses it as an after-workout beverage. It is cooling and refreshing, anti-inflammatory (prevents after-workout muscle aches) and rich in electrolytes. Could it be more perfect? I just realized this needs to be my new after-gardening beverage. (My shoulders and hips are killing me from all that shove wielding.)

see strawberries

Companions

Incompatible

Potential Pests and Diseases

Strawberries Folklore

Strawberries are loaded with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, potassium and folate and cancer fighting antioxidants (anthocyanins). Strawberries also have anti-inflammatory properties, Omega -3 brain building fats. They are recommended to prevent cancer and heart disease, to improve vascular function, to slow onset of Alzheimer's, lower fevers and reduce general aches and pains. This last bit is not surprising as strawberries, like willow) are rich in salicylates, kinda like aspirin.

I am told that if you mash up fresh strawberries and mix the resulting pulp with equal amounts of baking soda and use this to brush your teeth for five minutes, it will whiten your teeth. I have not tried this, but I feel it would be hard on the enamel. Maybe not brush them, just let it sit for five minutes or leave out or reduce the amount of baking soda. Either way, lots of reports of strawberries benefits on teeth.

Strawberry leaf tea may be drunk, gargled or applied to the skin for eczema, sore throats, cold and flu and for general detox. Use two full tablespoons of dried leaves for a standard sized coffee mug. Drink up to three times daily.

Strawberries can be used to make a skin mask for treating acne. They can be added to my face food recipe.

I have always associated strawberries strongly with the energy of Venus. They definitely seem watery and feminine to me as well. Traditionally, strawberries are used to encourage romantic love and fertility. And of course, being bright red, they can be used to bring that color to the magick. Likewise, their heart shape, when sliced, can bring the magic of that symbol to the magick.

see http:///www.witchipedia.com/herb:strawberry

Correspondences
Element(s): Water -
Planet(s): Venus -
Season:
Sabbat:
Deities:
Zodiac Signs:
Gender: female

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