Strawberry plants

Strawberry plants

Strawberry is the fruit of Fragaria, a small perennial plant that grows spontaneously in the undergrowth. There are dozens of varieties: the most widespread, and that we all know, is the so-called Fragaria x ananassa, a cross between two species originating from North America and Chile, imported into Europe at the beginning of the 18th century. The different varieties of strawberries differ in fruit size, ripening period, color and flavor. They are generally classified into 3 groups: uniferous or non-re-flowering plants produce fruits once a year in spring, biferae, or re-flowering, produce them from spring to autumn, photo-indifferent plants can produce fruits throughout the year, as long as the temperature is constant and never below 10 degrees. For home cultivation we can opt for a remontant variety, so as to be able to have the fruits for a long period; if, on the other hand, our interest is mainly that of making jams and juices, the choice falls on non-flowering plants that concentrate all production in the spring period.

Choose strawberry plants

The first step is to decide which strawberry plant variety we are interested in. Among the uniferae a reliable variety is Camarosa. Also suitable for cultivation in pots, it finds more favorable soil for growth in central and southern Italy. Camarosa has a very abundant late spring production, with very juicy and sweet dark red fruits. In the central-northern areas the Alba variety is more suitable: it has one of the earliest spring productions, with light red fruits, regular in shape and good flavor. If we need to have fresh strawberries available for as long as possible, we can plant the Annabelle remontant variety. Its fruit, with a constant scent throughout the flowering period, is medium-sized and orange-red in color, with a sugary pulp.

Directions for cultivation

To start home cultivation, the first step is to buy young potted strawberry plants, to be transplanted into well-exposed soil, cleaned of weeds and enriched with organic fertilizer. During the summer the seedlings should be arranged in rows, about 25 cm away from each other, with the roots well covered by the soil and watered abundantly. Watering must be done regularly, preferably early in the morning so as to favor the evaporation of excess water; it is important that the leaves and fruits are not sprayed but only the base of the plants, to remove the possibility of fungal diseases spreading. Mulching is used to protect the plants during the coldest periods, i.e. the soil is covered with inert material: you can use leaves, straw mattress or dark plastic sheets to which holes are made in correspondence of the plants. This technique is also useful for counteracting the growth of weeds and keeping the soil moist. Harvesting is done by hand starting from late spring, one or more times a season depending on the variety of plant.

Eating strawberries: the health benefits

Strawberries are made with 90% water, the calorie intake is very low, as well as the amount of fats and proteins. This makes it a very palatable fruit not only for its tasty flavor but also for the actual benefits it can have on our health. Let’s see what are the advantages of eating strawberries. First of all, they are rich in vitamin C, which is very important for strengthening the body’s immune defenses. They contain antioxidant substances useful in the fight against free radicals therefore, we can say, they slow down the aging of the skin. Simple sugars (fructose) mean that they can be eaten without problems by people with diabetes. Possible anticancer properties are still being studied: flavonoids, natural chemical compounds present in large quantities in strawberries, they could counteract the multiplication of malignant cells. The conditional is a must as the studies are still in progress. Finally, they are rich in xylitol, the so-called wood sugar, with an important effect against the formation of bacterial plaque and tartar.

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