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You Can Grow It: The start of summer is strawberry season

Did you know strawberries are not actually berries?

BOISE, Idaho — Strawberries are in season, both at the fruit stand and in our gardens.

They are a popular summer treat, with Americans eating an average of almost five pounds of strawberries every year.

So today we're celebrating this tasty little fruit by showing us the different kinds of strawberries, and how you can grow it.

One sure sign that summer is around the corner is when strawberries start turning red.  These delicious little gems are the first fruits to ripen in the spring. But did you know that they're not really a berry?

Despite their name, strawberries aren't technically berries, like blueberries and raspberries. Why? Because those berries have their seeds on the inside. Instead, strawberries have their seeds on the outside - as many as 200 of them on an average little strawberry. And each strawberry seed can grow into a whole new strawberry plant.

But the most common way for strawberries to reproduce is to send out long viney shoots from the main plant, called runners, or stolons. These runners will eventually produce a little cloned baby strawberry plant on the end that develops its own roots. Then, once it gets established, the runner dries up and shrivels away.

Strawberries are actually members of the rose family, and their blossoms give off a sweet fragrance, too. They are considered perennials, since they grow back year after year. Most strawberry plants will last up to five years.

There are two main types of strawberries, June-bearing and ever-bearing.

June-bearing is the most popular among home gardeners, producing one large crop of fruit each growing season around late May and June. The fruit is usually bigger, and the plant produces more runners. 

The ever-bearing strawberry looks pretty much the same as the June-bearer, but it will produce two or three crops of strawberries over the course of the summer and into the fall. You won't have as many berries at one time, but you'll keep getting fresh berries over a longer time.  Some gardeners say they're even sweeter than June-bearing strawberries. 

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