Plant profile: Strawberry
Fragaria x Ananassa, common garden strawberry
Strawberries, along with raspberries, are actually part of the rose family. They contain high
levels of vitamin C, and are a good source of manganese. As you might guess from their vivid
red color, strawberries are full of antioxidants, which help to counter inflammation in the body.
The common garden strawberry we are familiar with should not be confused with mock
strawberry, Potentilla Indica, also known as Duchesnea Indica. This wild plant does have edible
fruits that closely resemble miniature strawberries, but they have little to no flavor. Please be
cautious when gathering wild foods, and take care to properly identify before eating. It is always
best to err on the side of caution.
There is however a small variety of wild European strawberries, called alpine strawberries
(Fragaria vesca), which bear very flavorful little fruit and can grow well in our area if planted.
Additionally, they can tolerate more shade and fog than typical garden strawberries. They are
fairly easy to find. Might be a good choice if you are thinking of growing your own strawberries
On that note, an expert coastal California gardener, Pam Peirce, recommends steering clear of
those 'strawberry pots’ with multiple openings. If you want more information regarding
homegrown strawberries be sure to reference the latest edition of her book, Golden Gate
There are two main kinds of strawberry varieties. The “June bearing” or “short day” types, have
a short early season. In California, this variety actually begins to bear long before June
commonly in April they will start showing up in farmer's markets. But they can sometimes be
harvested as early as fall, winter, and early spring, where winters are mildest (mostly in
Southern California). Then there are “day neutral” types, which will continuously produce unless
temperatures get too high.
Homegrown strawberries require sunny spots, warm weedfree soil, water delivered right to the
roots (not the leaves!), and a steady supply of nitrogen. They are not hard to grow but be
prepared to defend them from hungry birds and other creatures. Mesh netting can be helpful
when used to cover plants.
There are two common large scale methods plasticulture, for annual plantings, or perennial
beds, where plants are given a few seasons then discarded. In plasticulture, irrigation lines run
along the plants underneath a layer of black plastic which surrounds the bed. Each year before
they are planted, the soil of these beds is intensively fumigated to prevent pests and diseases,
and after harvest the plants are plowed into the ground. The fumigation process kills every living
thing in it's path.
In conventional agriculture strawberries are one of the most contaminated crops due to the
concentration of chemicals used an average 300 lbs per acre. Some of the chemicals used to
treat strawberries have been linked to cancer and reproductive organ damage, some are
banned in other countries.
EWG, the Environmental Working Group, annually lists the “Dirty Dozen” crops that are
important to buy organic due to health risks from pesticide residue and strawberries continue to
top the list. They are sitting at #1 on the 2016 Dirty Dozen.
The good news is that there are plenty of places nearby to get organically grown strawberries if
you don't plan on growing them. We encourage you to get out to a farmer's market for the
freshest, most flavorful berries available. Or pick your own and enjoy a day at the farm!
STRAWBERRIES & VANILLA CASHEW CREAM
Wash a pint or two of organic strawberries and chill in fridge.
Blend a big handful of organic cashews with water, a pitted date or two (or a splash of maple
syrup), and a dash of vanilla extract (1⁄41⁄2 tsp to start, add more if you like, don't overdo it).
Blend until smooth.
Dip freshly washed, chilled berries in cream a super easy dreamy dessert!
For fancy presentation, try slicing berries in half, arranging on a plate, and spooning a dollop of
cashew cream into the center of each berry.
Try topped with a blueberry or small piece of chocolate. Oh yes.
Links to local organic strawberries: please contact the farms directly for upick details
Swanton Berry Farm
Upick Sundays now open!
Live Earth Farm
Santa Cruz Farmer's markets
120 Russell Ave, Felton
Cedar St & Lincoln St, Santa Cruz
King's Village Dr, Scotts Valley Community Center, Scott's Valley
Western Dr & Mission St, Santa Cruz
15th & Eastcliff Dr, Live Oak
Kku (2016, 6/20) Strawberry. Retrieved from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strawberry
Peirce, Pam (2010) Golden Gate Gardening. Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books.
Walker, Bill/ Linda, Sonya (2016, 6/20) Pesticides + Poison Gases = Cheap, YearRound
Strawberries. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/mobile/
strawberries with cashew cream: