Newest Review: ... (eight strawberries equivalent to an orange), as well as folate and potassium. Strawberries are also high in fibre and manganese. Also in t... more
Don't just pick your own.....Grow your own!!
Member Name: Kantankrus
Advantages: Juicy tasty strawberries for a fraction of the price you pay in the shops.
Many years ago when I was a child, we spent a lot of time with my mam's Aunty Edna and Uncle Charlie. In the summer we would often take off to a pick your own strawberry field to fill our boots (and mouths) with delicious strawberries. Aunty Edna was a larger than life character prone to silly acts at random times. I can vividly remember her all of a sudden standing up in the middle of the strawberry field, bellowing at the top of her voice..."STRAWBERRIES................RIPE STRAWBERRIES!!" Then bending back down to carry on picking whilst strangers looked aghast at who was being so loud and me and our family creased up with laughter. Sadly, Uncle Charlie passed away many years ago and Aunty Edna, although retaining her caustic sense of humour, is crippled up with arthritis bless her.
So began my love of strawberries and little was I to know that I would eventually be growing my own on my own little plot of land!
When I first got my allotment in 2006, my handy husband built me a bed with wood that was lying around the plot and after doing a bit of reading up, I sent for 12 strawberry plants from Thompson & Morgan and planted them out with plenty of space between them. To be honest, I cant remember what variety the plants were, but I duly left them to do their thing for the first year, picking off the flowers like it said in my book and just giving them plenty of water. They produced a few strawberries but nothing much to write home about.
The following year.......Oh my word!! From early June onwards to about late July, early August we were inundated with strawberries and the taste........so sweet and succulent. Yummy. To be honest, I try not to buy strawberries out of the shops anymore as the taste is just not comparable.
~~Care of plants~~
The books tell you about removing all dead leaves down to the crown when they have finished fruiting and how you can feed them with a high potassium feed such as tomato feed but I have to admit, I leave them to their own devices and have had brilliant results every year. The only thing I will do is cover with a fine net once fruit appears to deter birds from nibbling your fruit and sometimes I will put a layer of straw down so the fruit doesn't come into contact with the ground.
Now this is my favourite bit..... Plants only have a lifespan of 3/4 years and then the productivity drops so you need to think about replacing your plants. This could be costly but nooooo...Just after fruiting, each plant sends out runners (baby plants) which you can either plant into the soil in the same bed or, as I do, put a little compost in a small pot and pin the runner down with a wire or plastic pin. Keep well watered and after about four weeks you can detach from the mother plant and hey presto! You have a new plant! I do enough of these to make a new bed either every year or every other year. Sometimes I have had too many and passed them on to other plot holder's. If you are lucky you may get something edible in return!
A couple of years ago I thought I would try a little experiment to prolong the season a little. I put some of my baby plants in a big pot and kept in the greenhouse ensuring they were well watered. Again, the first year was disappointing but following years, I have had strawberries a few weeks earlier than the the ones in the open ground so I am planning to increase the greenhouse ones this year with my free plants!
~~Types of strawberries~~
There are many different types of strawberry plant and if you plan it well, you should be able to be picking your own right through the season. There are early seasons such as 'Christine' or Honeyoye' fruiting in June/ July. 'Elegance' is a mid season plant but for a good all rounder, an 'Everbearer /all season might be a good starter plant. 'Flamenco' sounds a good one according to the Thompson & Morgan site and it says it can fruit from May to November! Might have to order a few of these myself as although I get a good crop around June and July, my season then stops. Would be brilliant to be still picking in September! That's the beauty of growing your own, you are always learning and its trial and error.
You don't have to stick to the methods I have described above for growing strawberries, you can put them in a hanging basket, and suitable garden pot and you can buy special strawberry pots with little spaces for plants around the pot. We did this one year without much success so it is used now for flowers.
~~What to do with your tons of Strawberries?~~
Eat them of course! On their own, with sugar spinkled on, with icecream, on porridge, or other cereals or make a dessert with them. A lot of people make Jam but I have never attempted this. I'm also tempted to have a go at homemade strawberry wine. Quite often I will have a go at making a pavlova and then serve the meringue base with whipped cream, strawberries and almods on the top. Delish!!
Sometimes the meringue doesn't quite work for some reason and we just smash it all up, add whipped cream, strawberries and ice-cream and put it in fancy ice-cream glasses. Eton Mess!! Divine! I'm salivating now, thinking about it!
Failing all those ideas, give some away to family and friends. They won't be disappointed!
You will pay about £15.00 for 12 plants from Thompson & Morgan at the moment but look at car boots or markets. They can be picked up for a fraction of the price!
You don't need tons of space to grow strawberries and they are worth growing as its a good crop for your initial outlay and taste marvelous! I get such satisfaction from going and picking my own when you know that the public pay such extortionate prices at Wimbledon!
Go on......get some plants and have a go! Next year you could be sat in front of the telly listening to the grunts and groans of the top tennis players, stuffing your face with home-grown strawberries and cream! Yum!
Summary: A summer 'must have' for me!