Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa)

It’s Wimbledon time again and even if you have no interest in tennis what a great excuse for adults and children to enjoy local strawberries over the next few weeks while getting one of your five a day. Technically not a berry at all (as a berry has seeds on the inside) strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside.

The most common strawberries grown for fruit production are cultivars of the garden strawberry, a hybrid known as Fragaria × ananassa. They are an important commercial fruit crop, with over 140,000 servings being eaten at Wimbledon over the next few weeks alone!

Photo credit: Aaron Matchett 

Strawberry plants have multiple short stems which produce 3 coarsely toothed leaves. The delicate white flowers have 5 white parts which develop into a bright red strawberry between Spring and late Summer. The shoots trail across the ground as ‘runners’ which re-root themselves in adjacent soil, effectively replanting themselves. Although the fruit is delicate, strawberries are a tough plant and will grow in most conditions. When they are producing fruit, they need to be well watered and fed to ensure a good crop. Putting straw or stones between the plant and the soil reduces the chances of the fruit spoiling before it fully ripens. Controlling pests is a constant battle as they love the smell and taste as much as we do.

Photo credit: Aaron Matchett 

Where to find it…

You don’t need to go to Wimbledon to get great strawberries as they are being grown in many of our Community Gardens along the Greenway and are popular for beginners and veteran gardeners alike. In Avoniel Community Garden they are in large raised planters but they also work great in hanging baskets or small pots. These were planted in late spring and have been producing fruit for over a month now. If you call down (Wednesday 1-4pm and Saturday 1-4pm) the growers are always happy to share tips on growing and avoiding pests and diseases with interested visitors.

Photo credit: Aaron Matchett 

Be Part of it…

Strawberries  are low in calories and high in vitamins C, B6, K, fiber, folic acid, potassium and amino acids. They also contain high levels of nitrate. This has been shown to increase blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. Research has shown that people who load up on strawberries before exercising have greater endurance and burn more calories. So If you are planning on doing the first Connswater 10k or 5k in August consider a punnet or two of local strawberries as a part of your training.

As always if you have any requests for a future What’s Growing on the Greenway? plant let us know.