* Prices may differ from that shownMore Offers
I really love strawberries, therefore my husband has grown them in the garden for several years. We have had some real bumper years, last year was really dreadful,as we had hardly any but this year is looking good so far. We were given our plants by my dad from his allotment but then soon grow and spread. My husband is a keen gardener and as they started to show green strawberries on the plants, he puts nets over them to prevent the birds eating our crop. We always find that if you harvest regularly the crop seems to be bigger and a better quality strawberry, so we pick every day and if we go away during strawberry season we always tell family and friends to pop over and help themselves. A good source of vitamin C (eight strawberries equivalent to an orange), as well as folate and potassium. Strawberries are also high in fibre and manganese. Also in the top 20 foods that are high in anti-oxidants. 236g of strawberries is 188KJ The main reason for growing them is the cost saving, a punnet of strawberries averages around £2.50. Being a bit of a scrimper, when we aren't in season I really struggle to buy now as I begrudge paying for them! When I hit abundance levels, as I am just starting to, they are a welcome gift when visiting friends and a treat for colleagues at work, taking a tub full whenever I can. All my children love strawberries are so eat in quite vast quantities, so I tend to leave a tub in the fridge freshly cut up and washed as then then help themselves when just home from school and in search of a snack. My mum makes loads of jam from my dads allotment, I tend to freeze loads and then boil them with a bit of sugar to make a nice pudding later in the year when they have stopped growing. The children like to blend with milk, banana and a little ice cream to make smoothies. I take them to work and pour low fat yogurt over them as a sweet treat. When having a friends night, a fave pudding is strawberries, meringue, ice cream and a blob of cream. I love strawberries so its a 5 Doo Yoo from me.
On my recent health kick I have been eating loads of fresh fruit and vegetables. I also watched a very interesting program about strawberries confirming why I love them so much. The freshest way to get strawberries is to grow them yourself, its pretty simple to do. You can buy the seeds cheaply, and you then need somewhere where the plants wont be eaten by grubs, and they get enough water and sunlight. I have previously tried but dont have a garden at the moment. It has a short six week season and thats why you cant always buy them in markets all year round. On the programme I watched the supermarkets use large plastic tunnels to grow them for longer months. I have also made my own jam from my mums supply of home grown strawberries, it is a lot nicer than shop bought! I now buy strawberries from the market or pick your own if I see a farm offering this. They taste great on their own as a picnic snack, or with cream for indulgence. I never need to put sugar on them though some people do. You can also combine them with meringue for eton mess, or blend them with other berries for a really tasty smoothie. When Im not on a diet they also taste really lovely with melted chocolate. If you eat them in a pudding make sure to cut off the green stalk and slice out the white middle section as this is not as nice as the rest of the fruit. Apparently british grown strawberries are better as our climate is perfect for soft fruit. So buy british whenever you can. From tescos a box costs around £2-3 depending on the time of year.
I absolutely love strawberries, they are my favourite fruit and I love to enjoy them in many different ways. Years ago, when I was 2 (yes, this is one of those old family stories that is told at every reunion) I went to a luncheon with my mum and about 10 other women in my family. They all gave me their strawberries because I was little and cute and they knew I liked them and it was only later than someone found out that they had actually been soaked in vodka, no wonder I was so full of energy that afternoon!! According to an article I read, "Fragaria × ananassa, commonly known as strawberry or garden strawberry, is a hybrid species that 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 prepared foods such as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, milkshakes, and chocolates. Artificial strawberry aroma is also widely used in many industrialized food products. 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 Amédée-François Frézier in 1714." Strawberries are actually a very easy fruit to grow and one I have grown in my garden for a few years now although I probably don't do it properly and could grow them a lot better. This year I have just one plant which is really my three year old daughter plant and we are having fun watching it grow. She is marvelling in the fact that the strawberries start out as little flowers then turn from green to red and then we can pick them when they are ready. All you really need to do is put the strawberry plant in some soil and make sure it gets lots of water and not too much sun and it will really grow. They flower in June to July so we had to wait a few weeks as I think we bought this plant back in April/May time. I have mine in a small pot but it's really better to get a proper strawberry planter with lots of different holes in it and I would also recommend that you keep the plant up from the ground as the slugs really like this fruit. Sometimes I see a slime trail on my strawberries if it gets too near to the ground and lots of little bites which is rather annoying. Strawberries can be enjoyed in so many different ways. They are perfect just on their own in a fruit salad or with some cream during Wimbledon. I love to put one in my glass of champagne for me and my friends when I am entertaining as not only does it look good but it also brings out the flavour of the champagne too which is lovely. They are also great for cooking with and I love to put them in a crumble with some apples and raspberries. All in all a beautiful fruit that I love to eat.
I have 2 varieties of strawberry currently growing in my garden, a smaller but sweeter alpine variety (which I had to buy the seeds, which I got all in all in a kit for 99p from 99p store). The other variety is the more "common" strawberry you can get in the shops. I got the seeds by picking the seeds off the side of a strawberry before eating it, and planting them. it was more of an experiment but those strawberries have taken over! So, why are strawberries so easy to grow. Well first off, they grow quite well in the local climate (I live in UK), and they are not massive ambitious plants like tomatoes. Secondly they can live in a variety of soils from clay to compost (I live in a clay area, so this is really handy for me). Thirdly they do not require massive amounts of de-weeding, because strawberry plants can grow runners, which then develop into new strawberry plants, so they kind of end up taking over a small area of the garden. Some tips I have learnt along the way for strawberry growing: Step 1: Grow seeds indoors in a propogator. If you don't have one of these, just place the seeds in a pot with compost, plant, water, then cover the top with some see through cling film. Once the plants start growing, remove the cling film, and once they are getting big enough to transfer outside, do so (when the weather is good). Step 2: Make a mesh or box or something to keep out squirrels, birds, chickens, ferrel children etc from eating all your delicious strawberries. Step 3: (I don't personally do this step as I feel its a bit of a faff, but you are supposed to do this) place straw down once the strawberries are beginning to develop, in order to keep them off the soil, this is meant to give the best strawberries. Step 4: Do your best to kill/stop slugs. They can just eat little bites out of one or two strawberries. Step 5: Pick the strawberries by cutting them from the green bit of the stalk, this keeps them fresher for longer. Step 6: Time to eat!!! I really recommend strawberries to anyone living in the UK, they are cheap, easy, and fun, and I think the plants don't look all that bad! Seeing the little runners running up and down the garden and the white strawberry flowers grow, and redden is really quite good looking. Although they prefer direct sunlight, they do not need it to thrive. Any questions, please ask below (bear in mind I am not an expert) I hope you found this useful
~~Introduction~~ Many years ago when I was a child, we spent a lot of time with my mam's Aunty Edna and Uncle Charlie. In the summer we would often take off to a pick your own strawberry field to fill our boots (and mouths) with delicious strawberries. Aunty Edna was a larger than life character prone to silly acts at random times. I can vividly remember her all of a sudden standing up in the middle of the strawberry field, bellowing at the top of her voice..."STRAWBERRIES................RIPE STRAWBERRIES!!" Then bending back down to carry on picking whilst strangers looked aghast at who was being so loud and me and our family creased up with laughter. Sadly, Uncle Charlie passed away many years ago and Aunty Edna, although retaining her caustic sense of humour, is crippled up with arthritis bless her. So began my love of strawberries and little was I to know that I would eventually be growing my own on my own little plot of land! ~~Starting off~~ When I first got my allotment in 2006, my handy husband built me a bed with wood that was lying around the plot and after doing a bit of reading up, I sent for 12 strawberry plants from Thompson & Morgan and planted them out with plenty of space between them. To be honest, I cant remember what variety the plants were, but I duly left them to do their thing for the first year, picking off the flowers like it said in my book and just giving them plenty of water. They produced a few strawberries but nothing much to write home about. The following year.......Oh my word!! From early June onwards to about late July, early August we were inundated with strawberries and the taste........so sweet and succulent. Yummy. To be honest, I try not to buy strawberries out of the shops anymore as the taste is just not comparable. ~~Care of plants~~ The books tell you about removing all dead leaves down to the crown when they have finished fruiting and how you can feed them with a high potassium feed such as tomato feed but I have to admit, I leave them to their own devices and have had brilliant results every year. The only thing I will do is cover with a fine net once fruit appears to deter birds from nibbling your fruit and sometimes I will put a layer of straw down so the fruit doesn't come into contact with the ground. ~~Future Crops~~ Now this is my favourite bit..... Plants only have a lifespan of 3/4 years and then the productivity drops so you need to think about replacing your plants. This could be costly but nooooo...Just after fruiting, each plant sends out runners (baby plants) which you can either plant into the soil in the same bed or, as I do, put a little compost in a small pot and pin the runner down with a wire or plastic pin. Keep well watered and after about four weeks you can detach from the mother plant and hey presto! You have a new plant! I do enough of these to make a new bed either every year or every other year. Sometimes I have had too many and passed them on to other plot holder's. If you are lucky you may get something edible in return! A couple of years ago I thought I would try a little experiment to prolong the season a little. I put some of my baby plants in a big pot and kept in the greenhouse ensuring they were well watered. Again, the first year was disappointing but following years, I have had strawberries a few weeks earlier than the the ones in the open ground so I am planning to increase the greenhouse ones this year with my free plants! ~~Types of strawberries~~ There are many different types of strawberry plant and if you plan it well, you should be able to be picking your own right through the season. There are early seasons such as 'Christine' or Honeyoye' fruiting in June/ July. 'Elegance' is a mid season plant but for a good all rounder, an 'Everbearer /all season might be a good starter plant. 'Flamenco' sounds a good one according to the Thompson & Morgan site and it says it can fruit from May to November! Might have to order a few of these myself as although I get a good crop around June and July, my season then stops. Would be brilliant to be still picking in September! That's the beauty of growing your own, you are always learning and its trial and error. You don't have to stick to the methods I have described above for growing strawberries, you can put them in a hanging basket, and suitable garden pot and you can buy special strawberry pots with little spaces for plants around the pot. We did this one year without much success so it is used now for flowers. ~~What to do with your tons of Strawberries?~~ Eat them of course! On their own, with sugar spinkled on, with icecream, on porridge, or other cereals or make a dessert with them. A lot of people make Jam but I have never attempted this. I'm also tempted to have a go at homemade strawberry wine. Quite often I will have a go at making a pavlova and then serve the meringue base with whipped cream, strawberries and almods on the top. Delish!! Sometimes the meringue doesn't quite work for some reason and we just smash it all up, add whipped cream, strawberries and ice-cream and put it in fancy ice-cream glasses. Eton Mess!! Divine! I'm salivating now, thinking about it! Failing all those ideas, give some away to family and friends. They won't be disappointed! ~~Cost~~ You will pay about £15.00 for 12 plants from Thompson & Morgan at the moment but look at car boots or markets. They can be picked up for a fraction of the price! ~~Summary~~ You don't need tons of space to grow strawberries and they are worth growing as its a good crop for your initial outlay and taste marvelous! I get such satisfaction from going and picking my own when you know that the public pay such extortionate prices at Wimbledon! Go on......get some plants and have a go! Next year you could be sat in front of the telly listening to the grunts and groans of the top tennis players, stuffing your face with home-grown strawberries and cream! Yum!
I grow strawberries every year and my patch seems to better bigger and better each year too. I originally bought some cheap plants that were reduced down to 30p each from my local garden centre and I didn't really think I would get much from them. I was lucky because I had a load of compost left over from my compost bin. I planted them in a mix of soil and compost and put them into a raised bed in a sunny spot in the garden. I didn't really water them apart from on really dry spells and I soon was rewarded with new fresh green leaves appearing in the centre. I have a good few strawberries last year and often sent my daughter with them for packed lunch as they were so much tastier and better than the horrible ones in the supermarket that have lost their flavour by being flown thousands of miles. The winter came and thought that would be that. This year though the shoots have grounded into the nearby soil and the patch has grown by another third, the original ones I planted went very brown during the frost but I am pleased to say they are starting to get new green shoots and even more flowers than last year. I am looking for different unusual varieties this year as I have enjoyed the rewards so much and I can't wait for harvest time again. These are ideal for the beginner gardener as they are so easy to look after and they will keep giving year after year without the hassle of replanting. I would recommend anyone with a small space to give these a go as they can be grown in a small window box or even a hanging basket and the rewards are definitely worth the small amount of effort needed. Also on ciao under member dillywhite123
Strawberries are very easy to grow, they will quite happily grow in most soils, can survive extreme wet and high temperatures and are generally happy to be left to grow producing there wonderfully attractive bright red, succulent, juicy, sweet fruits. Here is how I grow mine. I bought a few plants from the garden centre and put them in hanging baskets with a good quality soil, I water them when its dry and pinch off any bits that look a bit yellow or tired and they seem happy enough. The hanging baskets are located in full sun most of the day, with shade as the sun sets, they are also in a an area that does not get much wind, but that is more to do with the fact that I did not want the hanging baskets to be bashed around. Long tendrils of the strawberry plant are currently trying to find a place to bed, so I will be moving them shortly on to my new veg patch to allow them to keep growing and produce more plants. I have successfully moved strawberry plants before and still had a good crop. My general approach to gardening, particularly when growing vegetables and herbs is that I plant what I love to eat, make sure it has food and water and let nature take care of the rest, others plan, like some of my friends, but I find I get good results, have limited issues with plant pests or disease and generally have fun, which is what its all about really. I also tend to move the crop around, they last around three years, and the next crop I will plant elsewhere, to give the land a bit of a rest from strawberry, allow something else to grow there and generally make the veg patch look different year on year. The hanging baskets are currently outside my back door so when I come home with my son we can see them enticing us to eat them, which we do, simply picked and washed in a bit of water. That is how I like to eat my strawberries, sometimes with a bit of ice cream, but mainly as nature intended. The only issue I do have with strawberry growing is that birds love them too, I do not have an issue with slugs, but the birds will have a peck and I find this frustrating but they look so nice I can see why they are tempted. Overall, strawberries are easy to grow, look good and the fruits taste great, I would highly recommend growing your own. This review will also appear on Ciao! under the same username.
Introduction I blame the time of year for this review - there's not much growing in the garden, and most of the fresh fruit and veg in the supermarkets has been flown thousands of miles from warmer climes and doesn't taste of anything much. One of the worst things to buy out of season are strawberries - Egyptian, Tunisian and Spanish imports in the middle of an English winter are like having a Christmas dinner in July. It shouldn't be done in my opinion, English grown strawberries picked in season are unbeatable for taste and are a luxury that are worth waiting for. Luxuries don't have to be inaccessible to the common man though; I grow my own "strawbz" (Latin = Fragaria ananassa) for next to no cost and reap the rewards every June and July by being able to step 10 feet away from my back door and pick and eat whatever delicious strawberries my daughters haven't already ravished. As spring is only weeks away, my thoughts are once more turning to filling my back yard with as much fruit and veg as possible, and strawberries are high up on my "must grow to eat" list. They are pretty easy to grow, and hopefully this review will inspire you to grow some for yourself. Background It is thought that strawberries have been growing in England since the last ice age, although these were the wild woodland form, smaller than the cultivated types we know and love today. I grow two main types in my back yard, bog standard cultivated varieties like Cambridge Favourite and Honeoye and the smaller, wilder, intense alpine strawberries. The Cambridge Favourites and Honeoyes get mostly used for jams and cooking, and the alpine strawberries are used as a "pick your own" treat whenever we're outside as a family doing the gardening or the girls are playing out. There are many farms in the UK that offer a "pick your own" service; there's one near me and I've been going for more than 25 years to the same place and now feel sentimental about the fact that every summer I can now take my own children to enjoy picking strawberries, wade through mud and avoid slugs, just as I was taken by my parents as a five year old. If you do take your children strawberry picking, top tip - take a pack of baby wipes with you to remove the guilty tell tale signs of red mouths and fingers (before you pay and leave) that betray the fact your kids have been helping themselves on the way round! I strongly recommend to you to take the opportunity to spend an hour one sunny day this year to go and pick your own, rather than buying them from a supermarket. You'll be supporting your local farmers and also you'll benefit from discovering the difference in taste - it'll knock your socks off. Growing your own They can be grown from seed, but for a quicker fix, I'd suggest buying a few second year plug plants and planting them directly out in your garden - you don't need a garden the size of the Eden Project bio-domes, I grow strawberries in an old shoe basket, plastic storage boxes and hanging baskets that I found behind our garage when we bought the house. You may be thinking "what does second year mean?". In the first year of it's growth, a strawberry plant won't produce many flowers (the flowers turn into strawberries) and any that do appear should be picked off to allow the plant to become stronger and healthier. However, in the plant's second and third years, you will have a nice healthy plant that produces a heavy crop of mother nature's sweets, the strawberry. Strawberry plants tend to reduce their crop yield after about three years, so I don't keep any plants that are more than three years old. This may sound expensive, having to buy a new collection of strawberry plants every three years. YOU DON'T HAVE TO!! After you've initially bought your plants, they will send out "runners" during the growing season, which, if pegged on to the soil (use a twig or wooden clothes peg either side of where the small new leaves grow off the stalk of the runner) will develop their own root system after about a month and can then be cut off from the mother plant and replanted elsewhere. A continual supply of plants for free! You'll save a fortune this way rather than buying a handful of watery, tasteless strawberries in a plastic box or buying new plants every time you fancy some. They are best kept in soil rich with compost and with good drainage in a sunny position - the more sun they get, the more fruit they will bear. It's important that the strawberry plants are well drained, the rot quite easily if in boggy conditions. Slugs and birds love strawberries too, so you can protect them with netting and the odd strategically placed beer trap. Plants in hanging baskets will confound the slugs, but not the birds so use a net or make a bird scarer out of old CDs hanging on a piece of string nearby. If you don't know, a beer trap is the nemesis of slugs. Fill a large saucer with lager and push down into the soil so that the lip of the saucer is level with the soil, leave this over night and the next morning you will see some very happy slugs in the saucer. These can be fed to chickens and birds, or re-housed, hopefully a long way away from your precious plants. I wouldn't recommend you go all "Hugh kills-and-eats-it-all" and make slug fritters though, what's the point? At the end of the growing season, I snip off any dead leaves to expose the crown of the plant to the last of the year's full sun - this will help the plant keep a store of energy as it lies dormant over winter. During the winter I cover the plants with crumpled newspaper, bubble wrap or an agricultural fleece if really cold conditions are forecast, but in normal winter conditions my plants survive quite well without the need for pampering. The fun part - eating them Best served straight after picking - straight in the mouth or with cream/sugar. If you are looking to make them last a bit longer, making them into jam is an excellent way of preserving strawberries. Here's how I do it: Wash and hull your strawbz, weigh and place into a heavy duty pan. Use a potato masher to lightly mush them up a bit and release the juice. If you want smaller bits of the fruit in your jam, chop them in half instead of mashing as whole fruits. Add to this two-thirds of the strawberries' weight of jam sugar - it has to be jam sugar as this contains pectin which will make your strawberries set. Strawberries are low in pectin, so unless you add it you'll just have a runny mess. You can use normal sugar and instead supply the pectin from apple peels, but this is fiddly and you'll be left with a load of peeled apples. A couple of table spoons of lemon juice will provide a good preservative in the form of citric acid and help your jam last longer. Then, put onto a high heat and wait till the mixture starts to bubble. Scrape off the floating scum, then turn down and allow to bubble away slowly for a good three quarters of an hour. Get your jars ready by washing and sterilising them (you can use a dishwasher to sterilise or put them in a low oven for ten minutes immediately prior to filling them up with the jam) and when the jam is ready, pour it in carefully - it'll be nuclear hot. When the jam is right up to the top, screw the lid on straight away and allow to cool. If you're using those lids with the poppy up and down button thing in the middle, keep pressing the button down until it no longer springs back up. That's how I do it, and my jam lasts for about a year in a dark cupboard (unopened) and about a month in the fridge (when opened), and I haven't been killed off by botulism or any other nasty diseases. For safety's sake though, don't attempt any type of bottling / jam making without reading up on the safety aspects first, please don't just follow my advice blindly. With my alpine strawberries, I don't have enough to make jam with, so I've put a "free for all" order on them in our garden - my daughters can help themselves to any that they see. They're a lot smaller than cultivated strawberries, about the size of a pea, but the strawberry taste is highly concentrated in these mini treats and are a delicacy. You can preserve them by drying, but unless you have a fit for purpose food dehydrator, why bother with all that fiddling around on radiators and wire racks when you can just accept them as a rare treat from Mother Nature and enjoy them straight from the bush. Strawberries contain a decent amount of vitamin C and antioxidants, not that you'd need an excuse to eat them, just be careful how much cream or sugar you have them with! Summary One of nature's gifts to us, strawberries are very tasty, loved by all and easy to grow yourself. The taste of an English summer in a juicy red fruit.
Strawberries are very easy and very rewarding to grow, and with just a few plants, within a year or two you will have a whole bed of plants. You can grow strawberries from seed, but I have always found it easier to do from plug plants. For your first year just buy 6-8 plants and pop them in the ground about 15 cm apart (they can also be grown in pots, but this will limit their size, and they will need much more watering and regular feeding). Once the plants are well established they will put out runnners, which can be pegged down, and will then grow into their own plants. This process can be repeated and before you know if you will have a whole bed of productive plants. From about May onwards you will need to put straw under the plants (the leaves and the developing fruit). This should stop the fruit resting on the ground, and apparently can discourage slugs and snails.
Strawberry plants are quite fun to have as a novelty in the garden, but they take up relatively much space and grown outdoors, have a fairly short fruiting season, so although they might grow enough strawberries to have several helpings through the summer, it's unlikely that a person would end up being 'self-sufficient' in home-grown fruit. Strawberry plants are low-growing and leafy, each plant standing less than a foot high. The foliage is quite dark green, with toothed leaves bearing deep grooves on the surface that are surprisingly rough to the touch. While strawberries aren't the type of plant that produces irritant hairs that stick to your skin, although there are people who are allergic to eating strawberries, and I suspect that if such sensitized people came into contact with the leaves they would also suffer an adverse reaction. The plants stop growing in winter, and there is some die-back of the leaves, but in general they seem to be frost-tolerant. The plants readily self-propagating by means of long, arching runners that grow out from the parent plants, which means that once established, a single strawberry will set about establishing itself at the centre of a ever-spreading-outwards strawberry bed, for at the end of each runner is a miniature strawberry plant complete with embryonic root system, just waiting to come into contact with moist soil to begin rooting as a new plant that will, eventually detach from the original and grow alongside. Strawberries, being members of the rose family produce distinctive five-petalled 'rose-family' type flowers, white petalled with a yellow cone-shaped centre shaped like a miniature strawberry. In cultivated strawberries the flowers are fairly abundant and though attractive, especially against the green of the foliage, they are short-lived and the plant doesn't tend to be grow as an ornamental. From the centre of the flower arises the so-called berry - actually what's known as a 'drupe' in botanical terms, as the fleshy strawberry part everyone likes to eat isn't, technically a fruit. Cultivated strawberries at least are slightly unusual in that flowers continue to be produced while earlier fruits grow larger and ripen, which means that on any given plant in summer, there will flowers, green fruit and red ripe strawberries all at the same time. The plants can be grown directly in fertile ground or, notionally, in upright ceramic 'strawberry planters' - although it has to be said that these planters tend to be more useful aesthetically than in terms of the fruit they produce. Strawberries need to be grown in moist, heavy soil for the fruit to develop well (it it's too dry, the leaves will grow happily but there will be little return of fruit) and in these terracotta 'strawberry towers' it's difficult to water the plants properly. While the foliage part of the plant tends to be generally trouble-free, slugs, snails, garden birds and other wildlife, including hedgehogs, badgers and even foxes all like to eat the fruit. And of course, if they come into contact with bare soil, the extremely juicy, soft fruit are in danger of beginning to decay: in large strawberry-growing operations it's usually to spread dry straw round the base of the plants to prevent this (hence the plant's common name). Commercial strawberry growers are increasingly moving towards cultivating the fruit in grow-bag type arrangements, often elevated up to human waist-height and with drip-feed irrigation pipes, to make harvesting more easy; picking strawberries grown in the ground requires a lot of hunkering down to soil-level which can do peoples' backs in.... The earliest outdoor-grown strawberries in Britain tend to be ready around midsummer in a good year; if the weather's been too wet or there hasn't been enough sun, the berries often don't ripen till after the end of June. July and August are good strawberry-picking months, though by mid to the end of August the fruit supply is generally in decline. (Of course, at pick-your-own places, the management have all sorts of techniques for artificially extending the fruiting season). Strawberries are easy to grow, individual potted plants are inexpensive (perhaps one or two quid from a garden centre) and it's fun to have some in the garden. You might even get a few ripe strawberries to eat as an added bonus, too!
Ever since I was young, I always enjoyed the strawberry season in England, and would long for the days that I could go strawberry picking with my Mum and Dad. The strawberry season in England usually starts in early June, and it is usually about this time, I keep an eye on the local farm, who offers a pick your own service. As a family we love going to the farm and picking our own strawberries (eating lots on the way too) and then weighing them in at the end. I'm sure the farmer must allow for pickers to eat them on their way around, as the price is slightly more than the supermarkets, and most people to pick them. The fact the youngsters walk out with strawberry juice all over their Tshirts must be a big give away too. As a family we also grow our own strawberries but have not got enough room, to grow the amount we consume as a family of five. The family love to eat them with cream, scones and mixed with other fruit. I also encourage the children to have them with their breakfast, and on the odd occasion have also made jam. Another favourite with the kids is making smoothies with them. They add other fruits too, and I get great satisfaction that they are getting some of their five a day. Believe it or not, the strawberry plant has only been in the UK since the 1700's. It soon became very popular, and as it adapts very easily to our climate, and also spreads very easily, there soon became a large number of plants. This year the UK will produce approx 100,000 tonnes of the fruit. Few may realise (or want to know) that the strawberry itself is actually part of the plants ovaries. I'd certainly not realised until I read it on the internet. So is it good for us. Well in short yes. Unless of course you are eating them with lashings of cream or as jam, with spoonfuls of sugar. The vitamins within the fruit include A,B and C. Add to this Iron, Calcium and Proteins, and you can see how these can be beneficial to your health. In order to get the full benefits, they should be eaten without any additives. The strawberry itself is reliant on the amount of rain and sunshine it receives. The larger and riper the strawberry the better the conditions it has been grown. In the event of little sun, the strawberry yield will be low, and the likelihood is that the strawberries will be small. They also thrive in warm air, and this is why many farmers have them in tunnels, or greenhouses. I really do enjoy strawberries and although our season in England, is short lived, it is now common for supermarkets to fly them in from all over the world. Obviously this puts the price up, however it does mean that they have strawberries for sale most of the year round. Thanks for reading and I hope this has given you a bit of information, that perhaps you didn't know previously. Copyright stebiz 2010 - also on ciao.co.uk
Gardening never used to interest me at all, but as I am getting older, I find myself with an uncontrollable urge to grow things. Few things match the pleasure of walking out into the garden and picking your own produce that you have created, and when you match this with one of the tastiest fruits around, the pleasure is immeasurable! The tale of my plants started three years ago. We have a south facing long, narrow garden, and up until a few years ago it was mainly lawn for the sake of the children. My initial intention was to grow strawberries in hanging baskets; firstly so that we could keep as much grass as possible free for football, paddling pools etc...And secondly because we have our very own garden pest. Our pet rabbit runs freely around the whole garden as it is completely enclosed with no chance of escape, and he obviously likes to munch on anything that I attempt to grow. I went to my local garden centre at the beginning of summer and purchased four strawberry plants, four hanging baskets, four brackets and a bag of compost- the whole lot coming to around £30. At this point I realised that these four plants were going to have to produce a lot of strawberries to make my new project economical! I planted up my baskets and waited for the fruit to grow. A month later, there was no sign of fruit, but all of the plants had bushed out completely filling the baskets. They also all had a lot of shoots coming off them which were about to grow into new baby plants, so I decided that the time had come for me to dig a bed so that these plants could flourish. I dug out a bed along the fence, about eighteen inches wide, and around four foot long and carefully transplanted the plants into the soil. I also had to purchase some netting to protect them from the rabbit - this set me back another fiver! Luckily we had some wire hanging about so I made my own tunnel and once again waited for some fruit. Still nothing and summer was practically over, but I did have a lot of baby plants that were well established so I made the bed a bit longer and planted them out. Over winter I replaced the netting with wadding to protect the plants from the frost, and come spring I was delighted to see that they were still thriving. The babies were having babies so I planted them out, and I had so many that I put some into pots and sold them at a boot sale recouping £15. Flowers developed and finally fruit started to grow. That second summer I had about twenty strawberries- hardly a bumper crop, but I was pleased. More babies were developing nicely, and by the end of that summer my bed along the fence was thirty foot long! This summer we have had masses of strawberries and all of my hard work and nurturing has finally paid off! I have not had to buy fruit for lunchboxes all summer, and the feeling of satisfaction sending my sons off to school with my strawberries has been immense! I have had about fifty new babies that I planted into pots, and again I have sold them at a boot sale so I've got my initial investment back several times over. The fruit has all gone now, but babies are still growing and I'm still potting them up. This whole process has been time consuming, but the effort has definitely been worth it, and I can't wait until next spring when it starts all over again and all the better if I can make some more money out of it. I am a complete novice gardener and I didn't have a clue what I was doing, so if I can do this, anyone can, even if you only have a small window box. Strawberry plants really are the plants that keep on giving, so I would recommend them as a starting point to any new gardener.
Strawberrys you can't beat them, they are so juicy and lovely and fresh. I love plain strawberry's and cream but you can also pop them on top of merrange nests or shortbread. They are also lovely in a flan with strawberry jelly. Homemade strawberry milkshake or smoothies are lovely, I've also made ice lollies with strawberry milkshake. The best way is fresh, I have a few plants they are so easy to keep, buy a summer fruiting variety - Cambridge favourite is a good one. Choose a nice sunny spot and plant them out, you'll probably need a good 10 plants to get a nice crop. At the beginning of the season around May time, start putting straw all round and gently underneath the plants so that the strawberry's rest on the straw - it stops them getting all soggy when it rains and also I don't think as many slugs get to them. At first when the strawberry's come through they are green, at this point get some netting and cover them so that the birds can't get to them - we're not the only ones who like strawberry's!! it's as simple as that, then go out every few days and pick your strawberry's they keep in the fridge so sometimes I pick them one day and add to them and eat them all the next day. My mum grew strawberry's when I was little I can remember us going out together to pick strawberry's and now I do it with my girls, it really helps children know where their food comes from and they're such easy plants to look after. They need no looking after in the winter, once you've had the last of your strawberry's remove the straw and look for any suckers coming off the plants (long stems with a little plant along it) those suckers can be planted into pots or put straight into the ground where you want them and become more strawberry plants. The first year you won't have many strawberry's because they take a year to get established but roll on next year when you'll have a feast! I don't use any sprays on mine, some do get eaten but one for them and one for me is my philosophy, I'd rather mine not be covered in sprays!! slug pellets round about will help with the slug problem as they are the biggest pest.
For me, Strawberries and summer go together. I think they are by far the loveliest of all the summer fruits and I know I am not alone in my appreciation of these delicious heart shaped berries! Strawberries have been around since the ice age. The Romans cultivated Strawberries, believing that they had healing properties and could help cure depression, infections and fevers. During medieval times the strawberry was used as a symbol of purity, love and passion, no doubt due to its heart shape. Stonemasons of the time often carved strawberry designs in churches and these can still be seen to-day. Strawberry soup was sometimes served to a newly married couple as part of the wedding feast and a strawberry birth mark was considered a sign of royalty. Centuries later in the court of Napoleon it is documented that a prominent figure used to bathe in strawberry juice, believing it would protect her from disease. Although I wouldn't suggest bathing in strawberry juice, eating strawberries is proven to give many health benefits. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C as well as magnesium. In fact eating just 8 strawberries will give you as much vitamin C as eating an orange. Strawberries are a low calorie food too, unless of course you cover them in sugar! Eating lots of different fruits has now been proven to help protect us from cancer and heart disease. Growing strawberries. ******************* Although strawberries are available in supermarkets all year, I would never consider buying anything other than British Strawberries. The flavour of strawberries imported is just not the same as home grown varieties. However best of all for taste has to be the strawberries you grow yourself. Strawberries are easy to grow and produce great results. There are over 600 different varieties of strawberries, a figure I found surprising! However a trip to your local nursery will probably give you just a few varieties to chose from. I like to grow a variety called Flamenco. This variety is more disease resistant than many other varieties and has a long fruit producing season. Strawberry plants are not very expensive costing around £1-2 per plant. Before you plant your strawberry plants you will need to decide where to put them. This may seem obvious, but it is important. Strawberries like to grow in well drained soil where they will get lots of sun. They also need to be protected from wind as they need insects to pollinate the plants and wind will keep insects away. I grow my strawberries in a slightly raised bed that gets full sun. About a month before planting you will need to dig the soil well, removing any stones. I suggest you dig in lots of organic matter. I started of with about 12 strawberry plants. Each plant should produce around 10 oz of fruit and will spread to approximately 9 inches and grow to about 8 inches in height. I should also mention that you should avoid planting strawberries in the same bed as potatoes. peppers or tomatoes. This is because these plants can have a disease that is deadly to strawberry plants. Strawberry plants can be planted in either late September of early April depending on the variety you have chosen. I planted in late April to avoid any danger of frost. Strawberries will need protecting from frost when they are newly planted. Once established they are pretty hardy and frost will do no harm unless they have fruit! Strawberry plants need to be kept well watered but don't overdo it! White flowers appear in early spring and the plants should then be protected from any late frosts. As soon as the fruit starts to appear you will need to protect it from birds. I use a simple net with pegs. I also use straw from my local pet shop to lay around by plants to help stop the fruit from rotting. Any runners you see should be removed as leaving them will take strength from the parent plant. The fruit producing season will vary but I usually get fruit for around 6 weeks. Strawberries can also be grown in containers. They will need to be kept well watered and grown in a sheltered spot in the same way as I have described above. Home grown strawberries really do taste and smell a million times better than any you will buy from a supermarket! If you can't grow your own then I suggest you buy from a local farm or better still pick your own! Be aware that these strawberries may have been sprayed with a variety of chemicals so don't munch then until they have been well washed! Using strawberries. ***************** I love to eat strawberries just as they are-no sugar or cream. Strawberries should be washed before the stalk is removed and they will need to be handled carefully to prevent bruising. Strawberries should be bought to room temperature before eating to give the best flavour. Strawberries can be added to cereal or yogurts at breakfast or made into a delicious smoothie. I like to make smoothies for my children. For a strawberry smoothie I use about 2 cups full of orange juice and a few god handfuls of strawberries. Then simply blitz the liquid in a blender. You can add a spoonful of yogurt if you want a thicker smoothie. I often make a small plastic tub of fruit as part of my children's packed lunch. Sliced strawberries give colour and there sweet taste is a real hit! I sometimes ad sliced strawberries to a green salad and then dress with a little balsamic vinegar-try it really is delicious! One of my favourite puddings has to be Eton mess. It is easy to make and tastes wonderful. I like to make individual portions in a wine glass, to make enough for 4 people you will need- 4 meringues nests. 4 good handfuls of strawberries. ½ tub of either double cream or low fat fromage frais. Crush up the meringues in a bowl .Blitz a handful of strawberries in a blender until you have a puree. Slice up the whole strawberries. Now layer the meringue, strawberry puree and cream or fromage frais into the glasses. I don't add any sugar but if you like your puddings sweet then you can do so! This is a great pudding to serve at barbeques. I don't think strawberries freeze well as they tend to go mushy when they are defrosted. However you can make a puree and freeze that instead. Strawberries don't keep for long and really are best eaten fresh. If you are lucky enough to have a glut then you could always make jam. Remember that strawberries don't have a lot of pectin so you will need to ad lemon juice to ensure your jam sets. I really recommend you have a go at growing your own strawberries, they are easy to grow and will more reward you well for your efforts! Failing that then try to buy from local farms where you know the strawberries will be local and fresh!
We first bought the basics range from Sainsburys a couple of months ago, and one of the first things we bought was their strawberries at £1 per punnet - what a bargain we thought. For about 4 weeks we bought them everytime we went shopping there, as they were ok and did have some taste. Recently, as the price of british ones went down, so did our interest in this particular product. There is absolutely no comparison with the british ones that are currently selling at around £2, and the size of the punnet is pretty small. If you haven't had a strawberry for quite a while I guess they do make you miss the proper ones. Most strawberries these days come from Spain, but you have to admit british ones look and taste better. The one thing we did notice is that the basics ones tend to be quite hard, tastless and as an added problem it takes a long time to find a punnet thats in good enough condition to buy - often there are mouldy ones or they look like they've been sweating on the shelves for days. Of the basics range this is one item that I would not recommend. They certainly aren't very good with cream, but I guess if they were put in a pie or something they'll probably be okay. Anyway for the time being we're going one better by growing our own.