Fragaria x ananassa
Strawberries (together with apples, roses, most stone-fruit and almonds) are a member of the rose family (rosaceae).
Strawberry plants grow 20 to 30 cm high, show dark green serrated leaves and usually flowers with white petals, that look like tiny wild roses. The fruit is conically shaped, dark red, fragrant, soft and juicy. It only ripens on the plant, so should be picked only when fully mature. We grow a cultivar that fruits not only in Spring but has a much longer season.
Strawberries like a more acidic soil than most of the other plants we grow, they should never get any garden lime or dolomite.
Strawberries produce runners to reproduce. Strawberry plant get less productive the older it gets, after 3 years a Strawberry plant should be replaced.
How to grow:
Strawberry plants grow well in well drained rich soil with plenty of compost. The soil should be slightly acidic with a pH of 5.5 to 6. Strawberries need a sunny spot for their fruit to ripen, but must be shaded on extremely hot days. They should be spaced 40 to 60 cm apart.
In midsummer the plants rest, but in early Spring and and in Autumn a top-dress with compost or organic fertiliser is beneficial.
Needs consistent watering, especially when fruiting.
The runners of strawberries need to be removed, so the plant concentrates on fruit production. Just enough runners should be left, to replace older plants in Spring.
Pests and other problems and how we deal with them:
Slugs eat the fruit and can be deterred by mulching and using coffee grounds. Birds can be kept away by netting.
All year, plant in early Spring.
Propagate using the runners.
How to harvest and use:
Collect ripe fruits in the morning and keep refrigerate if not eaten directly. Cut off the fruit together with the green attached to it. Wash in cool water just before eating.
Strawberries are great on their own, with cream or with yogurt, they are often preserved by cooking them to a jam. They pair nicely with vanilla, all sort of citrus, watermelon, and ginger. Sweet and savory dishes both wok with strawberries, they taste great with aged balsamic vinegar, blue cheese and chevre, and herbs such as basil, mint, lemon verbena, fennel and lavender.