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BONNIE’S GARDEN – How to Celebrate National Strawberry Day

By Bonnie Pega
Bonnie's Garden

Did you know this past Saturday was National Strawberry Day? A whole day devoted to my very favorite fruit—who knew?

Strawberry Legends

How did strawberries get their name? No one knows for sure, but the most widely accepted story is, because strawberries spread profusely by runners, after a couple of years, the fields look “strewn” with berries. Strewn-berries became strawberries.

Another legend says they’re called strawberries because they were often mulched with straw.

And yet another legend says children in the 19th century would thread strawberries on a straw and sell them as “straws of berries.”

Me? Well, I don’t care how they got their name. They’re still my favorite fruit!

Strawberry Fun Facts

Here are a few interesting facts about Strawberries:

  • Strawberries are not only delicious but good for you. They are low in calories, high in folic acid, potassium, amino acids, fiber and vitamins C, B6, and K.
  • Strawberries are the only fruit to carry its seeds on the outside.
  • Botanically, they are not a berry but are considered a complex fruit.
  • Speaking of seeds, there are over 200 seeds on one strawberry.
  • Strawberries are a member of the Rosaceae family—related to roses as well as apples, peaches, pears, almonds, etc.!
  • Strawberries are native to temperate zones in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Because of their small size, they were not an important food crop until an accidental crossing of the Virginia strawberry (fragaria virginiana) with the Chilean strawberry (f. chiloensis) produced a larger and more flavorful berry than either parent.

How to Grow Strawberries

To grow your own strawberries, pick a sunny spot and enrich your soil with the addition of compost. Set out plants 20” apart in rows spaced 4 feet apart.

Do not plant where members of the tomato family were grown the year before as certain tomato diseases can affect strawberries.

Strawberry plants produce three to four years before they begin to produce fewer fruits so you take the runners they produce and cultivate them to replace the mother plants or you can simply buy new “sets”—they are usually available in March and are very inexpensive.

Strawberries prefer a pH-neutral to slightly acidic soil so you may want to have your soil tested. Be sure to keep weeded because they hate competing for nutrients. Mulching with straw or pine tags will help keep weeds down.

For the best production, you should pick off all flowers and runners the first year so the plants put more energy into growing a bigger root system—thus giving you more fruit the second year.

Yeah, I know—really hard to do but it’s worth it in the long run.

The second year, you’ll probably want to invest in a row cover so the birds don’t get there before you do. In late summer, mow the patch to a 4” height and mulch with more straw or pine tags for the winter.

Where to Find Your Strawberry Plants

Fresh strawberry plants are usually in stock by the middle of March. Come in and check ours out!

To read more posts from Bonnie, visit our blog

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