Strawberries – sweet, red seduction

When you are tending your strawberry patch, seriously yearning for that first and special taste of sweet seduction that only an aromatic strawberry has, and you notice the first blush of crimson colouring on the tear-shaped fruit attached to their wiry stems, you will be forgiven for falling on your knees next to the plants while bursting forth into song.

Most of us have an ‘indecent obsession’ with this pretty ‘berry’ which according to Wikipedia, is not a botanical berry, but an “aggregate accessory fruit” (which in everyday language, means something like a collection of ovaries).

Over the years, folk have used this tasty little fruit to dip and dunk into anything from castor sugar, orange juice, melted chocolate, cream and even into alcoholic beverages. Our grandmothers grew them to use in home-made ice cream, cakes and jams. But, trends have changed and it is not unusual to see fresh strawberries teamed up with fish, pork, chicken or savoury vegetable dishes.

Strawberry Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 Crispy lettuce head (washed and torn into pieces)
  • A bunch of baby spinach (rinsed and stems removed)
  • 500 g of fresh strawberries (cut in half length-wise)
  • 1 Red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 125 ml Mayonnaise 
  • 80 ml White sugar
  • 60 ml Milk
  • 30 ml White vinegar
  • 30 ml  Poppy seed

Method:
Use a shallow salad server and pack out the salad and spinach leaves. Scatter and pile the strawberries and red onion rings on top.

Blend the mayonnaise, sugar, milk, vinegar and poppy seeds together and pour over before serving.
(Serves 6)

Strawberry facts:

  • Strawberries are rich in vitamins A and C and are low in calories.
  • The best time for planting strawberry runners (the baby plants a past summer season’s mother plant have produced, is from January to April in regions with a temperate climate and February to April in colder climes – this will prevent the blossoms from appearing before the worst frost is over.
  • Strawberries grow well with morning sun only but will be sweeter if they are in full sun all day.
  • The plants will flower immediately after winter and the fruit will then appear. The plants will push out long runners; separate them from the mother plants as soon as they have formed roots if you want to increase your strawberry supply. Plant these babies out into pots or soil where you have not grown strawberries before, as these plants should never grow in the same soil as a previous season’s crop.

They can also be planted now

At this time of year, nurseries will have stock of fairly mature plants that are either in flower or already fruiting – they will also stock the variety (there are quite a few available to the home gardener) that suits your region. They can be planted in the veggie garden, and containers like hanging baskets or so-called ‘strawberry pots’.

DIY double-storey strawberry garden:

Use two old plastic or clay pots of different sizes, lying about. Scrub them well with soapy water or a disinfectant. Fill the bottom, larger pot with good quality potting soil and a small handful of bone meal. Place the smaller pot, also filled with soil mix, inside the bigger pot on top of the soil and plant with rooted strawberry runners in both. (If you buy quality, fairly mature plants from your local nursery now, you will see that you can easily divide them into rooted runners to plant. This project will stretch your strawberry season deep into summer.   

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