Strawberry 101: Introduction to Strawberries

May is National Strawberry Month! To celebrate, Minigarden is featuring a whole week of posts dedicated to everyone’s favorite summer fruit – the strawberry.

Throughout the week, we’ll be sharing all the juicy dirt on different strawberry varieties, planting and growing tips, and even some of our favorite things to do with your strawberry harvest. Our first tip: everyone can grow strawberries! They’re not as finicky as you might think, and thanks to Minigarden, you don’t even need a yard or garden plot.

San Fran Strawberries

But before we dig into growing your own berries, let’s learn a little more about nature’s candy.

Where Did Strawberries Come From?

Strawberries Illuminated ManuscriptThe strawberry’s reputation preceded its popularity as an edible fruit. Western European monks featured images of strawberries in their illuminated manuscripts as early as the 14th century, and by the end of the 16th century, instructions for growing and harvesting the berries had been published. Good news for King Charles V – he had 1200 strawberry plants growing in his garden. King Charles really needed a Minigarden.

The “modern strawberry” evolved when a species from eastern North America made its way to England in the 1600s. This new species spread throughout the continent and beyond, and when a French explorer brought one to Chile and bred it with a female plant, he gave rise to the strawberry we have today.

The Strawberry Skinny

Everyone knows they’re delicious, but there are a few things about strawberries that you might not know.

  1. Strawberry Seeds DetailStrawberries aren’t actually real berries. Real berries, like blueberries and grapes, have their seeds inside the skin. Strawberries are one of the only fruits to wear their seeds on the outside – about 200 seeds per berry, in fact.
  1. Strawberries are part of the rose family. Rosacea, the rose family’s Latin name, contains over 2800 species of plants, including herbs, other edible fruits like apples, peaches, and raspberries, and trees.
  1. Strawberries are perennial. Plant one strawberry plant and you can enjoy your own harvest for up to five years.
  1. Americans eat between 3.5 and 5 pounds of strawberries each year. That’s about 13 to 19 cups of strawberries. I wonder how many King Charles V ate.
  1. They may be sweet, but strawberries are actually really good for you. So instead of heading for your candy stash, munch on some strawberries instead.

The Healthy Scoop

Strawberries one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. The ancient Romans believed in their medicinal qualities, and even nowadays strawberries are believed to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. They also contain high levels of nitrate, which is believed to increase blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. But that’s not all.

Strawberries are an Excellent Source of Vitamin C

One serving (about half a cup) of strawberries contains roughly half your daily dose of Vitamin C, which can boost immunity, improve eye health, and keep your skin looking younger. Vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant, which may help prevent certain cancers and inflammation.

Strawberry Serving

Strawberries are Heart Healthy

Finally, something sweet and delicious that’s actually good for your heart!

The ellagic acid and other phytochemicals found in strawberries can help fight bad cholesterol by counteracting the negative effects of LDL, and they also have an anti-inflammatory effect and may reduce blood lipids. Plus, they’re a source of potassium, which can help regulate your blood pressure. All good news for your heart health!

Strawberries are Naturally Low Calorie

Strawberries only have about 30 calories per serving, are fat free, and are low in sodium and sugar. Strawberries have less sugar than other popular fruits like bananas and melon, and they contain less than half the carbohydrate content of a slice of bread, which makes them a great snack if you’re trying to lose weight, or for when you’re just craving something sweet. Or for no reason at all.

Now You Know

Time to make like King Charles V and get planting! Maybe you don’t need 1200 plants, but you can easily grow lots of strawberries in limited space with Minigarden.

Stay tuned to find out why Minigarden is perfect for growing strawberries and to learn which varieties you should grow.


Read More

Part 2 – Can You Grow Strawberries? 
Part 3 – How To Plant & Care For Strawberries
Part 4 – Managing Pests in Your Strawberry Garden
Part 5 – How To Harvest Strawberries, And What To Do With All Those Berries


Sources

Kelly, Jasey. “To What Type of Plants or Fruits Are Strawberries Closely Related?”. SFGate.
Martineau, Chantal. “14 Things You Didn’t Know About Strawberries”. Food Republic. May 20, 2013.


Susan Austin is Sales Director for Minigarden North America. She can be reached at susan@minigardening.com.