Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fruit : Strawberries

Here is a fact that might surprise you - strawberries are a member of the rose family.  Knowing that, if you look at the flowers that they produce, you can easily see the similarity to wild roses.

Although they have been around for thousands of years, strawberries were not actively cultivated until the Renaissance period in Europe.  They are native to North America, and the Indians used them in many dishes before they were discovered by the first colonists.  Early Americans did not bother cultivating strawberries because the wild ones grew so abundantly.

It wasn't until they were shipped back to Europe in the early part of the 19th century that cultivation started in earnest, and strawberries with cream quickly became considered a luxurious dessert.

Health benefits of Strawberries

I wrote about these in my post on spring foods, but here they are again for your convenience :

  • The high fibre content helps keep digestion regular as well as lower blood pressure and curb overeating.
  • Helps fight many inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis by inhibiting the enzyme COX in the same way that the drugs aspirin and ibuprofen do.  They do not however carry the unwanted side effects like stomach and intestinal bleeding.
  • Fight against the onset of many different forms of cancer.
  • Very high in Vitamin C, an effective antioxidant that can help lower blood pressure, ensure a healthy immune system and ward off the development of ocular diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Contains a large amount of manganese, and essential nutrient that acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent - lessens cellular inflammation that is the cause of numerous cardiovascular diseases.
  • Manganese also helps in bone building and maintaining proper bone structure.  Works with the potassium, vitamin K and magnesium also found in strawberries to protect bone health.
How to grow Strawberries

Strawberry crops take 8 to 14 months to mature, and require both a male and female plant to produce fruit. Even though growing strawberries is relatively easy, growing them organically can be challenging as they are attacked by many pests and diseases.

Although the plants can last 5 to 6 years with careful cultivation, most farmers use them as an annual crop, replanting yearly. Many home gardeners are tempted to propagate their own strawberries by using plants from the runners, but this is unfortunately no longer a recommended method.  Because most varieties sold these days are so hybridized, the strawberry plants produced in this manner will not produce fruit very reliably and you might find you have gone to a lot of time and effort to try to save a little money with no results.

Here are several articles on growing strawberries.

And here are a few videos as well.

Strawberries can also be grown in pots

Read this article to find out how to do this.

And  you can also grow them in hanging baskets as described here.

As for what to do with strawberries - I'm sure that isn't a problem for anyone.  Eating sun ripened strawberries straight from your own strawberry patch is a wonderful treat in it's own right.

Then there are many recipes as well such as  :

In my opinion the best and easiest dessert during strawberry season are chocolate covered strawberries.  During the month that strawberries are available in my area my fridge always has a plate of these.

And make sure to make some Paleo strawberry jam to tuck into your freezer as well.  It will be a great treat to pull out next winter to have with pancakes or toast.

Tomorrow I will give you a great recipe that you can use with all the fresh fruit as it comes into season, meanwhile here is today's inspirational strawberry garden from where they grow their strawberries in a very innovative way - on a wall !

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    1. Thanks for the excellent hint with the watering pipe. I've had strawberry pots for years but have always found them difficult to water effectively. I.m going to this first thing tomorrow!

    2. I think that you need to put more holes toward the top of the tube, and less toward the bottom. My reason: gravity pulls water down, and with evenly spaced holes along the tube, the water, as its absorbed by the soil, will mostly wind up in the lower half of the strawberry jar. Less holes in the lower part of the tube will allow water to exit the tube higher up 'before' it's pulled lower into the tube. Does that seem to make sense, or am I just a cratchety old man ? ��


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