Tracy Rutherford’s Strawberry and Prawn Salad
1 punnet strawberries
100g mixed lettuce leaves
1 avocado, diced
1 cup of bean sprouts or snow pea sprouts
3 shallots, sliced
12 large king prawns (cooked, peeled, de-veined)
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped nuts
freshly cracked pepper
1. Wash the strawberries then halve them (or, if they are quite large, cut them into smaller segments).
2. Wash the lettuce and drain in a salad spinner, then toss into a salad bowl.
3. To the bowl, add the strawberries, avocado, sprouts and sliced shallots. Top with the cooked king prawns.
4. Mix the dressing ingredients together in a jar then drizzle this over the salad. Serve in a large bowl or on plates.
Note: this salad is best made immediately before serving.
Tracy’s Easy Strawberry Sauce for Ice-Cream
2 punnets strawberries
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
ice-cream, to serve
1. Wash the strawberries well then remove the hulls.
2. Roughly chop the strawberries then put them into a food processor with the caster sugar and lemon juice. Process until it forms a smooth liquid.
3. To serve, dollop out some ice-cream scoops on each plate or into a serving cup and drizzle with the coulis.
Note: you can add in other berries to this coulis (such as raspberries), and you can also use frozen berries (thawed).
Strawberry growing tips
Strawberries can be grown in a wide variety of climate zones, from the cool regions of Hobart in Tassie all the way up into Townsville in tropical Queensland, and most places in between. Strawbs do well in garden beds, pots or hanging baskets – but they’ll need more frequent watering in pots and baskets.
The best way to get started is to buy certified disease-free plants from the nursery – it’s the safest option. Strawberries can develop virus diseases after a few years. If you plant runners from a friend’s patch, there’s a strong chance these old plants already have the virus disease that will eventually reduce or ruin your crops.
There are lots of different strawberry varieties to choose from, but ‘Tioga’ does well in most parts of the country. In really cool climates, look for ‘Red Gauntlet’, and further north in our warmer zones ‘Torrey’ performs well. ‘Strawberry Pink’ has pretty rosy-pink flowers and abundant, medium-sized sweet fruit, and ‘Nellie Kelly’ also has pink flowers. Disease-resistant ‘Alinta’ bears its large fruit year-round. Other large-fruited varieties to look for are ‘Zdana’ and ‘Hoko-wase’.
The best time to plant strawberries is during April and May in most parts of Australia, but they can be planted at any time if you find them for sale in the local garden centre. In our warmer climate zones you can plant and harvest strawberries throughout winter.
The ideal spot for growing strawberries is in full sun, in well-drained soil. If the drainage in your soil isn’t that terrific, create a raised mound of soil and plant the strawberries into the top of the mound. Strawberries are greedy feeders, so get them off to a good start. Prepare the soil in advance by digging in plenty of compost and well-rotted manure (eg, bagged cow manure or Dynamic Lifter).
If you have visited a commercial strawberry farm you might have noticed that the growers there lay black plastic underneath the plants, to keep the fruit clean. This doesn’t work well in backyards, as it tends to heat the soil excessively, so your best bet is to use an alternative. The traditional and best method is to lay straw under the plants (yes, that’s where the name strawberry comes from). Others cover the ground with weed mats, poking holes through the mat and planting the strawberry seedlings in the holes.
Though you gave the strawberries a flying start with the Dynamic Lifter and the compost, they’ll appreciate an extra liquid feed while they’re growing, but if all you have is more Dynamic Lifter or more cow manure, spread it round and they’ll thrive.
To harvest strawberries just wait until they look ripe, then pick them. Native birds won’t stand on ceremony and wait to be invited for a feed, so you may need to protect your ripening crops with wire mesh.
Prolonged wet weather can cause fungal diseases, and although copper oxy-chloride spray can help, for an organic garden it’s not recommended.
Snails and slugs are partial to the plants and the fruit, so put out some snail pellets, but remember to keep the pellets away from pets, native lizards, and kids.