Monday, July 16, 2007

Growing Strawberries

Home-grown, vine-ripened strawberries are among the garden's supreme treats- sweet, succulent, and bursting with flavor. Serve them in shortcakes, blended into smoothies, on ice cream, in cheesecakes or crepes, topped with yogurt or whipped cream, or simply savor them "as is" fresh from the garden. Grocery store strawberries, which are harvested early and ripened off the vine, can't begin to compare in sweetness and flavor.


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Strawberries are also easy to grow in the home garden. The plants form foot-wide mounds of lush dark green foliage that can serve as an attractive ground cover. They require no staking or training, as do the larger berries, and only basic care. Once planted they will spread and continue to produce for four or five years before they need to be replaced.

Strawberry plants also grow well in pots, patio planters, even in hanging planters. While there are many varieties of strawberries, there are basically only two types: June-bearing (Allstar) and Everbearing (Ozark and Quinalt). The June-bearing strawberries bloom in the spring and produce a plentiful crop that ripens during June. The Everbearing strawberries produce both a spring and a fall crop, and continue producing some berries throughout the summer, more when temperatures aren't too hot. For the home gardener, the best strategy is to plant both types and harvest ripe berries over a long season.

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