From early season in April through mid-season in June, we see bright red strawberries clustered on produce shelves, tempting us with their plump juicy sweetness - that's too hard to pass up.
And I'll admit, I love strawberries.
Maybe it's a throwback to my childhood when my Dad cooked us Sunday brunch with scrapple and stacks of hot pancakes topped with aromatic strawberries, or Mom whipped up her "famous" fresh strawberry shortcake, with dollops of fresh whipped cream. Hmm.. yum.
But no matter how you like to dress them up for a fancy dessert or toss them on cereal or grab them by the handful for a healthy, mouth-watering snack, strawberries are a nutrition packed fruit that is a favorite among millions.
If you'd like to grow your own, you'll be rewarded with sweet, fragrant and fresh berries and plenty to harvest, but do your homework first.
It's easiest to start with plants (crowns) from your garden center. Varieties vary from early, mid and late season varieties. Everbearing strawberries produce harvests in the spring, summer and fall. Most garden experts recommend that you pinch off all flowers during the first season to have healthier, bigger plants and a better crop for the second season.
Choose a spot in your garden with plenty of sun to light shade in a rich, well-drained, loose organic soil and fertilize. If you want to plant in containers, use an organic soil like the premium blend potting soils from The Organic Mechanics Soil Company.
Water frequently and do not allow the plants to dry out. Be on the look-out for pests like slugs. You should get about one quart of strawberries per plant. Here are recipes from Martha Stewart Recipes that I'm sure you'll love. Check out the "strawberry tartlet."
Share some of your strawberry stories and recipes with us! We'd love to hear from you. In the meantime, I'm literally grabbing another strawberry and popping it in my mouth as I speak!
photo credits: Wikipedia commons and Delish