Growing Strawberries!

If you are a fresh fruit fan, this could be the time for you to start your own strawberry plants. These fruits are fairly small but full of good stuff. Strawberries have few calories but lots of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. They also have health benefits and fight cancer, aging, neurological diseases and inflammation.

There are two types of strawberries, June-bearers and ever-bearers. June-bearers produce their crop for three weeks in late spring or early summer. Ever-bearers product fruit from spring to fall. The question of which kind you should plant is about time. June-bearers are the first fruits to ripen. Their plants produce many runners and grow as ground cover. For these berries, mulching is mandatory and picking requires bending. Ever-bearers are a little bit less work. They bloom and set fruit all season, especially in fall. Plants produce few runners;  grow in containers, on walls or in a specimen bed.

June-bearing are easy to grow in many climates and can grow as winter annuals in warm climates. Ever-bearers are a high-yielding variety and can also be winter annuals in warm climates, or can grow in a greenhouse. Growing strawberries requires sun and acidic soi. If you want to grow them, now is the time...as early as six weeks before your last frost.

Expect some flavor variation each season. Cool, wet springs lead to soft,  watery berries, while plenty of warm sun brings about firmer, sweeter  fruits. Pick strawberries with a short stub of green stem attached, much like you see in the grocery. It's best to pick them in the morning when it is cooler and refrigerate immediately. Wash them under cool running water and remove their green caps before eating or preserving. The best flavor is in the first three days after harvest.

Try some of these great strawberry recipes:

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Chocolate-covered strawberries

Strawberry Zucchini bread

Fruit basket

Fruit pizza

Fruit rainbow

For more information on growing berries, keep reading.

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