Fruit and Vegetables

Strawberry plants


Strawberry plants


The horticultural varieties are numerous, and have fruits of various shapes and sizes. In past centuries the strawberry plants were harvested from the woods where they were born spontaneously and transferred for cultivation in the vegetable gardens, where the cultivation of the fruits was easier. The introduction of the American Fragraria Virginiana species in Europe contributed to the creation of large fruit strawberries. In fact the European species are small fruit, while the American species give large fruits. With multiple hybridization operations, repeated and complex, many horticultural forms have been obtained, which are distinguished according to the age of fruit production: early, semi-early and late. Another distinction is between reproductive and unifying species: the varieties that grow from the beginning of spring and last until late autumn are more reproductive, more or less continuously; on the other hand, those that give a single harvest at a certain time of the year are standardized. However, there are species defined as "four-season strawberries" that combine different breeds, all predominantly of French origin, some of which produce particular white fruits. Wild strawberries, on the other hand, are a typical fruit of the woods, appreciated since ancient times: the dried leaves were used in herbal medicine; while the alpine strawberries differ from those of the woods due to the slightly larger fruit, they are also part of the reproductive species and generate flowers and fruit throughout the season.

Cultivation



The strawberry plants are voracious and impoverish the soil in which they are grown, so the latter must be very rich in organic matter, with a light, rather acid, well-worked, fresh and soft dough. The average duration of a strawberry is about three years, however, after this period, it is necessary to at least sow another type of plant because the soil does not have the substances by now to give life to a new cultivation of strawberries. This rotation system ensures that with another plant, after a certain number of years (about eight) the soil regains all the nutrients and becomes suitable again to house a strawberry. Since the strawberry plants are cespitose, the multiplication method using the buds removed from the stolons of the mother plant is the simplest: the stolons are placed in a nursery and then transferred to the ground. The young plants are arranged in a checkerboard pattern, about forty centimeters away from each other for those with the strongest development, while those of lesser development can be arranged at a distance of about thirty centimeters. It is also used to cover the soil particles destined for strawberry with tarpaulins of perforated plastic where the young seedlings are buried. This method avoids the development of weeds, and makes it possible to collect clean strawberries that are not smeared with soil, given that all the vegetation spreads over the plastic and remains cleaner without resting directly on the ground. Obviously the plastic sheets are fixed to the outer edges with stones or bricks, which prevent the plastic from being moved by the wind. In addition to avoiding weeding, this method makes it possible to keep the soil warmer, anticipating the maturation of the product. Strawberries must not be harvested when they are wet with dew or wet with rain; they must be collected dry, generally in the morning and never in the hottest hours of the day.

Curative use



In spring, the leaves of the strawberries are harvested and dried in the shade, together with the rhizome free of the soil. These two elements are excellent for treating inflammation of the mouth and gums and wounds caused by abrasions. They also help to soothe rheumatic pains and in this case, it is sufficient to boil water with strawberry, rosemary and thyme. Once the boiling is finished, it is necessary to filter the whole and drink the hot herbal tea to the extent of two cups a day. Furthermore, the leaves and roots are also excellent diuretic, astringent, detoxifying and calming. Finally, they can be used as infusions to create compresses to be applied on chapped lips from the cold and on swollen and tired eyes.

Food use



Strawberries contain a lot of water, mineral salts (iron, calcium and silicon), vitamins (B, C, E, K) and sugar. They also have a good amount of fiber and few calories so they can also be used by those who make diets. Furthermore, strawberries are able to stimulate melatonin and serotonin, thus acting positively on the person's mood. They can also be eaten by people with diabetes because the sugar they contain is in its natural state (fructose). It is a nutritious, tonic, mineral-rich, refreshing fruit, and its young leaves are also excellent for an excellent aromatic tea. Needless to say, there are numerous culinary uses for this type of fruit, from cakes to creams to tasty aperitifs.