Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Strawberry fields forever…
The berries are blooming and fruiting! It’s strawberry fields forever… or beginning in mid to late June according to the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture. Which means that Wisconsin and the Dakotas usually follow closely. Northern Minnesota may have to wait till the beginning of July.
The Minnesota Grown Directory includes 80 strawberry farms, 31 blueberry farms, and 41 summer raspberry farms, along with apple orchards, farmers markets, garden centers, and other places to buy directly from farmers. Check your local County extension offices too for information.
Berry picking is a great family event. Just remember to dress for the weather and wear sunscreen!
Strawberries should be eaten within three days of picking for best flavor! And wash them too. For longer preservation, wash the berries, remove their stems, and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After freezing, place the strawberries in freezer bags.
Should you choose to grow your own, there are some great berries for colder climates. ‘Itasca’ comes to mind as does ‘Tristar’ and ‘Tribute’. Pick berries every other day for peak ripeness and to avoid leaving fruit lay fallen on the ground. this will just attract insects and disease you don’t want! Besides, as good as homegrown and farm fresh tastes, why waste any!
The U of MN extension has lots more information on varieties and growing essentials. There are 3 types of strawberries that can be grown here. June bearing, everbearing, which actually deliver 2 crops, one in the Spring and another in the Fall and the newer “day-neutral’ that bear throughout the season. Instructions on the U of MN website should hold true for anywhere in the Upper Midwest.
Alpine Strawberries are a ‘day-neutral’ sort and different from the rest of the crowd. The U of MN says they are “not a cultivar but a different type/species of strawberry. Grows well in part shade. Does not produce runners, so plants remain small” and so does the fruit. It’s like eating candy from what I’ve read! Here’s a link to a place that sells only Alpinestrawberries