Why grow strawberries?
I started growing strawberries a while ago now when my children were young. I was struggling with keeping the house tidy because all the hard work that I did was then wiped out as soon as I turned around (see my post on toddlers and you may start to get the picture). Having young kids is a busy time so it is important to look after your mental health and find small ways to have a sense of achievement from some actions that you are taking in your day.
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Strawberries could keep you sane
Growing strawberries became something that kept me sane because consistent watering would keep them growing, producing fruit and even replicating themselves! At first, I had bought the strawberry plants as an activity for the kids so that we could do some gardening and enjoy eating fresh strawberries. However, after a while, I found myself going outside in the evening, when the kids were in bed and watering the strawberries, enjoying some fresh air and just having some quiet moments to myself. I found this was a great way to release some stress from the busy day and I had a mini project that actually grew each time I came back to it rather than it being pulled apart!
All this and I didn’t even like to eat strawberries. Thankfully I did try the strawberries and now the strawberries I grow are the only strawberries that I will eat! Yes, I was a fussy eater as a kid (so there is hope). Although I still can’t stand the taste of the ones that come in punnets!! Strawberries have become a great picture for me for the development of kids! Keep watering them and they eventually will produce fruit and multiply themselves! Well in all seriousness we can have some great days with our kids and some that are more difficult. Take each day as it comes and focus on building up your child and help them to see what they are good at rather than comparing themselves to others. Remember when you have a large strawberry patch the fruit is often not very obvious you have to search for it under the leaves (i.e. help your child see what is unique about them)!
Other health benefits of strawberries
Strawberries have been shown to have multiple health benefits. I recently found a great article on strawberries “Strawberries contain many important dietary components including vitamins, minerals, folate, and fiber, and are a rich source of phytochemical compounds mostly represented by polyphenols” So as well as tasting really good they are also very good for you. It will not hurt if you happen to overindulge on your harvest.
Have extra strawberry plants? Pay them forward.
So now that I have many strawberry plants what to do with the runners? I always love free plants. You can give them to friends so they can also enjoy fresh pesticide-free strawberries and some de-stressing moments. Or you can start another patch of strawberries. Starting a strawberry patch is super easy. You need some loam and some well-composted chook and cow manure. The first patch I did I just piled up the loam and manure mixed together onto a flat patch of ground. Then on top, you place some black growing mesh and then cut an X shape at regular intervals about 10-15cm apart. Then you plant the strawberry plants into the centre of the X you have made. Then water every day and wait for your fruit.
Alternatively, you can buy a raised bed or if you have someone handy in your house make one from offcuts of pine and congregated iron. A raised bed 2 meters by 75 cm is big enough to get a nice crop and should fit around 30 plants. You can start with a few plants at one end and then when they produce runners use these as new plants to fill the bed. You can also grow strawberries in pots but if there is more than one of you in the house you will be fighting over the fruit!
Now to eat those strawberries!
Once you have grown your own strawberries you really have to try honeyed strawberries. They are heavenly when served on yogurt or as a topping for a cake. You will feel very rich indeed eating this decadent fruit that you grew in your garden for almost free!! I discovered eating strawberries this way from my favourite chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall he has a recipe for honeyed strawberries in his River Cottage book light & easy- Healthy recipes for every day. Once you have grown some of your own food and tried some of Hugh’s recipes you will never look back!
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Hopefully you can experience the joy and health benefits of Strawberries.
Naomi (more about me)