Strawberry grows best in zones 4-9. It is best suited to sandy soil that is well-drained, with a pH level between 5.8-7.2. It should be grown in full sunlight. Strawberries are usually planted 1-2.5 feet apart in rows that are spaced 3-5 feet apart. In the first year, all the blooms must be picked off so that the plant can establish itself. Since the roots of strawberry plants are short, they need to be watered frequently with 1 inch of water. It is prone to many diseases and pests, so natural pesticides will be needed. Strawberries also grow well in pots and containers, and by doing so, less pesticides will need to be used. Weeds surrounding the plant should also be pulled out. During the fall, the strawberries should be mulched with 5-6 inches of straw and then slowly removed in the late spring. Strawberries need to be replanted every 3-4 years. The most common classification of strawberries are the "June-bearing," which bear their fruit in the early summer only and "ever-bearing," which bear several crops of fruit throughout the season. Companion plants for strawberries include beans, borage, lettuce, onions, spinach, and thyme (3).
Culinary and Medicinal Uses
Modern day strawberry shortcake can be traced back to a dish that Native Americans created by mixing crushed strawberry into corn bread. Ancient Romans used strawberries to treat inflammation, fever, throat infections, kidney stones, gout, and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen (1). Strawberries have been used to whiten teeth or treat sunburns. Tea made from its leaves was used as a remedy for dysentery. Some people use the berries to get rid of rashes (2). Strawberries are a high source of vitamin C, which has a multitude of health benefits, mostly associated with boosting the immune system.
Significance to Cultural Communities
Strawberry is native to North America and Eurasia. In France, strawberries are thought to be aphrodisiacs and are symbols of the Greek goddess, Aphrodite. In medieval times, strawberries were carved into the stonework around churches because they symbolized righteousness. They were also eaten at political events because it was believed to promote peace. In Bavarian culture, strawberry baskets are tied to the horns of cows during springtime. It is believed that elves will bless the cows with healthy calves and lots of milk. The Cherokee have a tale describing how the first strawberries came to be (1). The Seneca Indians would hold a strawberry festival every year where the people would prepare the berries in different ways and eat them (4).
1. History & Lore - Strawberries and More. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2013, from University of Illinois website: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/strawberries/history.cfm
2. Strawberry: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2013, from WebMD website: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-362-STRAWBERRY.aspx?activeIngredientId=362&activeIngredientName=STRAWBERRY
3. Duchesne, A. N. (n.d.). Fragaria x ananassa. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from Aggie Horticulture website: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/syllabi/608/Lists/second%20ed/Fragariaxananassa.pdf
4. Pascatore, L. (1994). The Strawberry Festival. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from Island Breath website: http://www.islandbreath.org/TheGobbler/Articles%20Published/03%20NA%20Native%20American/02%20Strawberry/na_02_Srawberry.html