Strawberries

Health Power

Loaded with Vitamin C. (A single berry can have up to 20 percent of the RDA.) This antioxidant combined with ellagic acid and anthocyanin helps heal wounds faster, strengthens the immune system and helps delay age-related memory loss. The folate in one serving helps reduce neural tube birth defects and damage to arteries. The fiber helps prevent constipation.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Vitamins – C, Folate, B2 (Riboflavin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine) & K
Minerals – Manganese, Iodine, Potassium, Magnesium and Copper

Disease Prevention

Strawberries are anti-inflammatory, helping prevent rheumatoid and osteoarthritis and asthma. The diverse content of minerals and phytonutrients in strawberries may also greatly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, macular degeneration and many cancers. Acts like aspirin and ibuprofen but without the negative side effects.

How to Grow

A great addition to the garden. Easy on the eyes and taste buds with great health benefits. Four different types of strawberries bear fruit at different times: June bearers, Ever-bearers, Day-Neutrals and Alpine. June bearers yield all fruit within a month, depending on climate variation. Ever-bearers offer a good amount at the beginning of summer, scattered in the middle and a small spread in late summer. Day-Neutrals bear fruit throughout the season between frostings. They are sensitive to extremes and require babysitting. Buy at your local nursery, but ensure they are certified disease-free. Strawberries do well in both pots and garden rows. They like a soil pH just below neutral (7). They also need good drainage and moisture-retentive soil. Pick a site with plenty of sun and good airflow. If drainage is poor, you can increase it by tilling and raising your bed. Work in a couple handfuls of planting mix per square yard or a few inches of compost. Plant them 2 feet apart in rows separated by 1.5 feet. You can also lay down polypropylene and plant them in slits. This warms the soil and protects from weeds, but is not a requirement. Dig holes deep enough that the soil will come up to where the leaves begin on the shoots. In the bottom of the hole, form a small cone and set the plant over it, arranging the roots around it. Fill in with the amended soil. If you trim back most of the runners sent out during the growing season, the plant will dedicate more energy to growing large fruits. Water them thoroughly with about one inch of water a week (more in warmer climates). Avoid water logging, as strawberries can mildew. Harvest berries when they are a nice red. Freeze if necessary.

Insect Control

Pests include birds, slugs, snails, aphids and red spider mite. Stop slugs and snails with a beer trap implanted in soil. A scarecrow might work for some birds but not many. Only row covers effectively stop birds. Stop aphids by planting marigolds to attract their predators (ladybugs and hover flies). Spider mites, most active on dry days, cause leaves to mottle yellow and fall off. Spray regularly with water. If the attack is bad, use rotenone as a last resort.

Tips

Weeding is a must to produce healthy strawberries. Lay down a layer of straw mulch around plants during growing season to separate the strawberries from soil and help keep them weed free. Harvest ripe berries as soon as they are ready. Immediately discard any that are malformed or mildewing. Rotate crops every three seasons to maintain healthy soil and good yields. Create new plants for the next season by collecting runners in pots. Choose disease-resistant cultivars adapted to your temperatures and day length. To avoid mildew and viruses, do not over water, and keep air circulating well.

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