Grow your own strawberries

Grow your own strawberries

Author: Canadian Living


Grow your own strawberries

My best health secret lies glistening in my strawberry bed. Here's why:

Packed with nutrients
Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C and potassium, and also contain some iron and folate. They contain both soluble fiber (pectin) and insoluble fiber, which have cholesterol-lowering effects and prevent constipation. A regular intake of strawberries has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Strawberries are known to boost the body's antioxidant levels, which exert cancer-fighting power. They receive the fifth highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score of all fruits (after prunes, raisins, blueberries and blackberries.) And according to dietitian Rosie Schwartz in The Enlightened Eater's Whole Foods Guide, research suggests that eating plenty of high-ORAC fruits and vegetables may slow the aging process in both body and brain.

Healthy exercise
You simply can't get the sweetest, juiciest, best tasting strawberries from a store. Strawberries don't ripen after they're picked, and they must be picked before fully ripe for commercial transport to grocery stores.

It's fun to pile the family in the car and go on a strawberry-picking adventure. But why not enjoy the fruits of your own labour from spring through fall, and get the benefit of great exercise as well? The delight of picking your breakfast every morning for four months is hard to beat, and you'll get a lot of dinner invitations once you start bringing along your famous fresh strawberry shortcake.

According to Joan Price, author of The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book (Adams Media Corp, 2003) you'll expend more calories maintaining your garden than you will take in by eating the produce from it. A 150-pound person burns 306 calories per hour planting and weeding. Picking fruit burns 204 calories per hour.

Grower's tips
It's simple to turn a patch of your lawn or border into a strawberry bed. All you need are some strawberry plants or shoots, an area in your garden that receives full sun, fertile soil, and plenty of water. Easiest to grow and most bounteous are the "everbearing" variety, which fruits from late May until September.

Page 1 of 2 – Find out how planting strawberries can be a form of meditation on page 2.

The initial investment in the plants is small - you can buy six to 10 plants for about $4. My husband and I planted 100 new plants this year, as our four-year-old old beds are starting to slow down their production. These 100 plants will give us enough strawberries for our family of three to eat fresh every day almost all summer, and to freeze enough to last all winter. And these plants create "runners," baby strawberry plants you can pot up and plant the next year to keep your beds renewed. So if you're smart you never have to buy the plants again.

Berry therapeutic

While picking (and tasting) the berries I weed the beds, cut off the runner babies to pot them up for new beds, and wander over to smell the roses. This time in the garden is immensely satisfying and self-nurturing, rather like meditating. I am totally focused and engaged, and the thought of how my "work" benefits my family's health just makes me happy.

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Grow your own strawberries