This has been a great year for growing strawberries in my edible front yard garden. The bounty I picked this morning is shown in the photo. Do you grow strawberries? If not, you should. They grow from Florida (February harvest time) to New Hampshire (July harvests) as perennials. Here in Tennessee, the month of May is my banner season for these juicy sweet berries.
My second favorite berry to grow, strawberries take just a bit more care than my favorite, blueberries. I find the biggest challenge is to keep the beds from getting too crowded with all the "baby" plants which the mature strawberry plants send out to root. When the weather is not too rainy, as has been the case here recently, the berries ripen without getting moldy or soft or dirty.
Here are ten of the many reasons I love growing my own strawberries:
- freshly picked strawberries have much more flavor than store-bought
- when you grow your own, you can wait to harvest them when they are fully ripened on the plants; those you buy are usually harvest a bit early, before the full flavor develops
- they are great to eat plain, added to fruit or veggie salads, topped with Greek yogurt, chopped and added to breakfast granola, chopped and used over a pie crust with a cream filling OR on shortcakes and topped with whipped cream (I did a variation on brownies last week), baked into quick bread, muffins, or pie.
- strawberries freeze well (wash, dry, and remove the stem end), either whole or sliced
- frozen or fresh strawberries are delicious in smoothies
- harvesting is spread over several weeks, so it's not overwhelming
- new baby plants are constantly produced, so you can start new beds, and - after a few years - replace the mature plants… free!
- non-organic commercially grown strawberries are highly likely to have pesticide residue (strawberries are the most chemically intensive crop grown in California)
- in my garden, organically grown strawberry plants are not prone to diseases or insect infestations
- nutritionally, strawberries have high levels of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins
And from the garlic patch….
dried, froze, and otherwise preserved from last year's harvest. Garlic is even easier to grow than strawberries, so find a garden patch and plan to plant garlic this fall.
By the way, sorry for my lack of posts recently on this blog. My "day job" (commercial artist/designer) has been keeping me so busy, along with my many other interests and pursuits. I hardly have time to garden or cook, not to mention writing about it!