Strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside and are the first fruit that ripens each spring. Medieval historians have found carvings of strawberries on cathedrals and altars and strawberries were a symbol of perfection for some in the medieval era. With such a rich history, it is no wonder this juicy fruit is a favorite treat for so many home gardeners.
Commercially grown strawberries are one of the most pesticide and chemically treated crops. When farmers plant strawberries in late winter, they first spray the entire field with a chemical to rid the soil of any micro-organisms. It is then covered in plastic to prevent weeds and then the berries are sprayed regularly with pesticide to prevent bugs from eating them. All of these chemicals are absorbed into the roots of the plants and distributed into the berries. Organic strawberries are grown without the use of any chemicals or pesticides.
June-bearing strawberries produce a large fruit crop throughout the month of June and are known for their large runners. Ever-bearing plants produce a consistent crop from late spring until early fall and remain compact, not sending out many runners. Lastly, day-neutral varieties produce a small crop throughout the spring and a final large crop in the fall.
Plant organic strawberries in early spring as soon as there is no risk of frost. For those who would prefer an earlier harvest, consider starting the plants indoors during the winter months. Strawberries are self-pollinating, so fruit can even be produced indoors in the winter, should the plants bloom indoors.
Growing strawberries organically requires substantially more work than with most fruits. Organic strawberry plants do not thrive where there are weeds, so their patches must be weeded regularly. Also, strawberries require a large amount of water, and if not carefully maintained will rot on the vine due to the increased moisture requirements. For best results, grow organic strawberry plants in raised beds and hanging pots.
Organic strawberry plants are free from pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. According to The Organic Center, an organization dedicated to educating the public on the benefits of organic food, organically grown strawberries, "had superior quality to the conventional, including more intense color (indicating more antioxidants) and higher sugar content. Organic strawberries had a higher resistance to deterioration during simulated marketing conditions, and thus better keeping quality." In that study, based in Spain, commercial and organic strawberries were grown in adjacent plots to ensure accuracy of the comparison. Organic food tasted so much better to consumers that 43% of them chose organic food because of its better flavor.