Strawberries: From Garden to Table

By Erna

“There is such a simple sweetness in being able to participate in creation.”

– Pamela S. Nadav

Like the rest of our garden fruits and veggies, strawberries taste best when they are fresh. They taste so great, in fact, that it might be hard to resist eating all the delicious, red gems while you pick to have enough left over for cooking with! Whether you snack in the garden or bring them to the dinner table, we have some tips and tricks for the best fresh and delicious strawberry treats in the summer.

Picking a Plant

Not every strawberry plant is the same and there are so many varieties tailored to different needs. There’s a fruiting habit for every need and it all comes down to picking what you want from your strawberries:

  • Day-Neutrals: Day Neutrals get their name from their ability to grow no matter the day’s length. Where most strawberry plants need heat and sun to produce flowers and fruit, these strawberries will continuously bloom regardless of whether the days are long or short. The only requirement they have is temperature. Once warm weather hits, these hardy plants will produce small yields all year until a hard frost sets. Here at Oakridge, we have even seen them prevail in weather as low as -30℃!
  • Everbearing: As implied by their name, these plants are fruit-producing factories. They’ll produce berries consistently all season, but less at a time than their June-bearing cousins. Constant, smaller harvests are ideal for sweet treats to graze on, and can even be saved up for pretty delicious jams. These tend to be tidier and more compact, making them great for containers and hanging baskets.
    – Alpines: This variety is sometimes considered its own branch of the strawberry family, but is actually a subspecies of the everbearers. Alpines are even smaller, creating petite fruit that is full of irresistibly sweet juice.
  • June-bearing: Among some of the most popular choices for home gardens, these plants will overflow with bountiful harvests of large berries between late spring and early summer. If you’re looking for a quick harvest that brings home bushels of berries for baking or jams, these varieties offer the heavy harvests you need.

How To Grow Sensational Strawberries

Your strawberries will want to set root in some rich and well-draining soil that is preferably a little acidic. This sounds like a tall order, but simply using compost (or sea soil) has given us great success in the past. Strawberry plants also greedily devour phosphorus and potash to create the fruits we love. You can help feed your plants by selecting fertilizers with higher middle and last numbers, or you can add a little bone meal or wood ash with your compost when you plant.

Providing the right nutrients gives your strawberries a great start, but they will want plenty of sun to create the sweet fruit you crave. This sounds simple enough! The catch is that, while they love to soak up the sun rays above ground, their delicate roots are sensitive to heat. You’ll want to choose a location for your plant that offers a good 6-8 hours of sunshine, but protect their roots with a layer of mulch to buffer the temperature. About 2 inches of wood mulch or clean straw are both natural choices that do the trick.

Water your strawberries weekly (or more if it’s particularly hot and dry out) and your strawberries will work hard to make delicious treats for you!

From the Garden to the Table

The best-tasting strawberries are undeniably from your own garden, where they straight from the stem to your taste buds. The trick for the best flavour comes down to picking at the right time. Pick your berries when they are evenly red all over, without any white or green. For an extra boost, try to pick your strawberries in the sunny mid-afternoon heat, which brings out their sugars. Pinch the stem about a ½ inch above the fruit and pick gently.

Strawberries taste amazing straight from the garden and we challenge you to have the willpower to avoid snacking as you pick. These berries are also incredibly versatile, too, making them an excellent addition to your dinner table this summer. Try mixing it up with some of our summer favourites:

  • For a fresh take on dinner, toss your garden-fresh strawberries with spinach and feta cheese for a tasty summer salad.
  • To capture that summer flavour for longer, create a strawberry jam that you can enjoy long after your garden is buried under snow.
  • For a tasty thirst-quencher, we love to add pureed and sliced garden strawberries to lemonade (or for an extra kick, with a dash or vodka and triple sec for a summer cocktail).
  • For a tasty dessert that takes advantage of that natural sweetness, toss strawberry slices with chopped rhubarb and sugar. Bake into a pie for a tangy and sweet treat that everyone will love – especially with a scoop of cold ice cream!  See below for the recipe our baker uses, here at Oakridge Cafe!

Oakridge Cafe’s
Rhubarb Strawberry Pie Recipe

From Our Table to Yours: 

This is the tried and true Rhubarb Strawberry Pie Recipe that we make here at Oakridge Cafe. With a couple cups of sliced rhubarb and strawberries and a couple other ingredients, you can bake this delicious pie yourself, and share a dessert that’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

Preheat the oven to 400º. Line a deep 10″ pie plate with a single pie crust. Flute the edge.

Mix the topping and set aside:
3/4 cup flour
6 tbsp butter, softened, not melted
6 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/8 tsp each cinnamon and salt

Mix the filling:
5 1/2 cups mix of sliced rhubarb and strawberries
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3-4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs

Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350º. Sprinkle the topping on the pie.

Turn the oven down to 350*. Sprinkle the topping on the pie.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until bubbling around the edge and golden brown. Cover with foil if it’s getting to brown. Let cool to room temp before serving.

There are tons of options for how you can take advantage of your delicious, sweet garden berries this summer. These scrumptious summer treats taste even better alongside any other garden-fresh fruits and veggies you grow. Not only will they taste better than supermarket versions, but you’ll also get all the nutritional benefits of fresh food with added the pride of growing your own food at home!

Whether you decide to eat them fresh, mix them in with dinner, drink them, or bake them, you’ll enjoy having access to the sweetest berries only a few meters from your door. Whatever flavour fits your fancy, here at the Garden Centre we’d love to help get your visions of summer strawberries get started!