Now, I know most of you know you can plant seeds and grow strawberries, or root cuttings to establish new plants…but did you know that you can actually grow strawberries by planting the actual berry?
If you have ever tried to plant strawberries from seeds, you know those little suckers are TINY!..yet the entire outside of the flesh of the fruit is dotted full of them and they are nicely held in place just waiting to germinate. This is how wild strawberries repopulate as well, they don’t wait for someone to come and pick every single seed off the flesh for them. This is also why at times, strawberries come up in unusual places where a bird ate the berry and..well…voided the seeds.
Ok, enough bird talk. How you can grow your own strawberries using the fruit. The first step is assuring the fruits you have are not sterile. Some commercial strawberries are bred to be this way. Annoying I know, and yet I imagine it’s how they keep others from replicating their particular brand. One way to help overcome this is to look for a local farmers market or a pick your own and go gather some berries. Now I am not saying you can’t use those out of the produce section at your local store, I have tried this just to see if they would grow and some did, but I personally recommend a pick your own or farmers market. Not only do you assure good quality produce, but also you support the Mom and Pop growers.
A second thing you need to realize is this. Some strains of strawberries have been …for lack of better term…mutated. Through seed germination you do not guarantee your fruit will look exactly like that you purchased. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Often the resulting plant you manage to grow returns more to it’s ancestral nature, or what we consider a heirloom.
Now for my method. Strawberry seeds need a period of cold before they will germinate. Your refrigerator is ideal for this as we store them in refrigerator to keep them fresh. So, without thinking, you already most likely have done this step of the process.
The second step is to assure your berries are ripe and ready. Green, unripe, semi-ripe does not mean ready to seed. In fact the best ones you can plant are those which are already on their way to the trash pile. You are looking for overripe, these will be the ones you slice up for planting. Some will argue with me and say you need to throw the berries in a blender with water first, drain off the water and any floating seeds and use only the sinkers. I find this step unnecessary and prefer just to use the slicing method. The rotting flesh becomes part of the compost and benefits the growing seedlings.
Third step, remove over helpful cat from table and catch daughter about to tumble off the chair beside you…oh wait, that’s just in my house. Third step! Prepare the soil mixture. Any seed starter soil will work fine for this.
Fill the cups 3/4 full, leaving a finger size indent in center to place your berries in. You want them near surface and just covered with a layer when finished.
Place your berries and remove cat off table again. Then cover berries with the top layering of soil. Don’t be afraid to “smush” some up to fit, this won’t hurt them at all.
As a final note, be prepared for some seeds to just not grow. This is just the nature of the beast.