Why You Should Grow Your Own Strawberries
How and Where Were Your Strawberries Grown?
When you grow your own, you have complete control over what you feed them to help them grow and over what kind of pest management you use. Commercially, due to the size and monetary value of the crop, the most economically feasiblenot always the safestfertilizers and pesticides are applied.
When it comes to where they are grown, the largest producer in the U.S. is California, which is a good thing, because they are subject to inspection and control over the growing, harvesting and distribution process; however, California cannot produce all the strawberries we, as a nation, consume. That means we also import strawberries, not only to fill the demand, but also to get them competitively priced. If you look at the label on the strawberries in your grocery store, you are likely to see they come from Mexico, where they are not subject to the same type of standards for food safety.
When Were They Harvested?
In order to get them to grocery store shelves still looking good, they have probably been harvested early and then allowed to ripen in the package and during transport, which means they will not be as sweet as your homegrown and harvested-at-their-peak-of-flavor strawberries. They have also most likely been treated with something to enhance their color and have been sprayed with something in the grocery store to inhibit fruit flies. Yuck!
What Are You Paying For and How Much?
When you buy strawberries in the grocery store, you are paying for the people who plant them, cultivate them, package them and ship them, not to mention every single cost along the way, like the cost to maintain the farm equipment, processing plant maintenance and repair, packaging materials, pesticides, fertilizersyou name it and you are paying for it.
What is the average cost of a quart (2 pints) of strawberries? The answer depends on where you live, though our research shows you will pay between $2.50 and $5.00 per quart, the wide price range varying from big-box grocery stores to local farmer's markets and from commercially grown to organically produced. Per pound, that equates to somewhere between $1.65 and $3.35 a pound. Expensive!
More Reasons to Grow Your Own
It's fun and satisfying! You can grow strawberries in amazingly small areas, only growing what you need to feed your familyor just you. You can grow them in your choice of planters, in a raised garden bed or in a prepared garden bed large enough to feed everyone your heart desires. Take some to sell at the local farmer's market, too. And each year, as your strawberry plants come out of dormancy, produce blossoms and then bear fruit for you to enjoy, you will be smilingand smiling big!
It's easy! Once established, your strawberry bed will require very little work. You may have to cover your strawberries with straw in the winter to ensure they don't pop out of the ground with the temperature changes, but once your bed is well established, you won't even have a big battle with weeds. Strawberry roots and runners are much stronger than any old weed.
It's family-friendly! Everyone will enjoy tending and harvesting strawberries. Toddlers can identify the ruby-red ripe fruit and with a little coaching will make great strawberry pickers, while their strawberry-tending responsibilities can grow as they do. You'll look forward to the day when your children want a strawberry bed all their ownwhich is easy to accomplish, since every few years you'll be dividing plants to encourage the optimal fruit production.
They are healthy! You will know exactly what you feed your plants. You will control what type of pesticide and how much, if any, you choose to use. You will harvest them at the peak of flavor and at the peak of their nutritional value:
1 cup of strawberry halves only has 49 calories, 7 grams of sugar, 12% of the DV (Daily Value) for dietary fiber, 149% of the DV for Vitamin C, 3% of your iron needs and 2% of your daily need for calcium, based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.
1 cup of strawberry halves has no saturated or trans fats, no cholesterol and 0% of your DV for sodium.
1 cup of strawberry halves has 29% of your DV for manganese, 7% of potassium and 9% of folate, while having an estimated Glycemic Load of 3 and an Inflammation Factor of 28.
To help you determine how many plants you'll need, you can read our article,