Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > February 2017 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--National Strawberry Day

BONNIE'S GARDEN--National Strawberry Day

So what is a strawberry exactly?  Well, surprise, surprise!  A strawberry is not a berry!  What???  That’s right, strawberries are not berries—neither are blackberries or raspberries.  On the other hand, a banana IS a berry and so are grapes, oranges, tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries, pumpkins and eggplant!

Botanically, a berry is a fruit that develops from a flower that contains a single ovary.  It usually has an outer skin, a pulpy inside and seeds in the middle--just like a tomato.  I’ll admit to being surprised when I first learned this.  I was still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that the tomato was, in fact, a fruit and not a vegetable.  Now it’s a berry?  Because a strawberry develops from a flower with multiple ovaries, it is what is considered an aggregate fruit.

Strawberries are related to roses, believe it or not.  That makes it related to apples, peaches, plums, apricots, pears, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, almonds—even photinias, hawthorns and pyracantha! 

The strawberries we grow today are quite different from the ones grown in Europe in the 1600’s.  They were growing the European wild strawberries as borders in flower gardens, but they were not usually eaten because the berries were small and had little flavor.  Things began to change when the Virginia strawberry (fragaria virginiana) and Chilean strawberry (fragaria chiloensis) were introduced form the New World.  The small-fruited but extremely hardy Virginia strawberry was hybridized with the frost tender but large-fruited Chilean strawberry to produce the modern strawberry (fragaria ananassa). 

Growing your own strawberries is fun and easy.  Fresh strawberry plants arrive at the store around the first week or so of March.  Pick a garden spot with lots of sun.  Strawberries will tolerate as little as a half day of shade but will only produce a few berries.  Average soil pH is fine.  Work in some fresh compost as strawberries like organic rich soil. 

The plants come 10 to a package.  Separate the plants carefully and plant them with the crowns at the soil surface.  Once planted, you’ll want to mulch well with straw or even newspaper (not the sections with colored ink as they contain chemicals) to keep the berries from touching the soil. 

There are two main types of strawberries.  June-bearing produce their crop over a three week period and are a good choice for freezing or making jams because you got a large crop at once. For June-bearing strawberries, picking the flowers off the first year after planting will give you more and bigger berries the second year.

Ever-bearing strawberries produce smaller crops over a longer period and are good for fresh eating.  For ever-bearing strawberries, picking the flowers off the first bloom will give you bigger and better flavored berries later that summer.

Strawberries can be easily grown in hanging baskets or strawberry jars.  Be sure to use potting soil, not garden soil, in containers and keep them in sun.  You won’t get enough to make jam, but it’s fun to
grab a berry as you’re going in your front door.

Unfortunately we’re not the only ones who love strawberries.  To keep birds out of strawberry patches, you may want to try bird netting or row covers.
Posted: 2/27/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: Bonnie's, Garden, strawberries
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