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I have a strawberry patch that I've left go for the past few years. It's gotten rather wild in the back garden as I've had little time to really devote to gardening lately. I went out to the patch to clean up and noticed I had deep red strawberries!

I picked them and washed them, expecting an extremely sweet bite. The flavor, however, was almost tasteless. The consistency of the meat was not mushy so I don't think I left them on the plant too long. What other conditions might lead to a low-sugar/low-flavor condition in a strawberry patch?

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Have you had a lot of rain recently? I find that mine are tasteless if we get a lot of rain (or I overwater them) just as they are ripening.

  • We have had a lot of rain recently, that could be part of the problem as well. – Peter Grace Jun 11 '13 at 19:35
  • Same goes for blackberries. If they're slightly water starved, the sugar content tends to go up. Nothing ruins them like a major infusion of water when they're ripening out. Double the size and insipid... – Fiasco Labs Jun 16 '13 at 23:31
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There are lots of varieties of strawberries, many of which are (like a lot of produce) specifically valued because of how well they'll ship. What they often lack though is taste.

I'm going to guess, however, that since you've had this strawberry patch for a few years you have had good tasting strawberries from this patch in the past.

Berries need enough water of course but they thrive in the warm sun. It the weather there hasn't been sunny or the rain has been sporadic that might effect a tasteless berry. My best berries have been when we've had lots of sunny weather. I believe the warm sunny days help increase the sugar levels in the berries. I've grown Honeoye strawberries mainly here on the farm and these are a particularly tasty variety. But I've had a season or maybe two when the berries were a bit less sweet and I'd chalk that up to the weather those years.

I've heard of folks adding wood ash to bump up the potassium level in the soil. I haven't personally done this makes sense as strawberries do better with a soil rich in potassium.

If you didn't pick all of them you may find that a few more days on the plant might help the flavor.

  • Actually, I believe what was wrong was I was picking strawberries that were in the process of turning -- the leaves on the fruit were starting to brown. I figured as long as the fruit did not look rotten that it would be perfect, but I'm guessing if the leaves are brown then it's game over for that berry? – Peter Grace Jun 11 '13 at 19:35
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After doing several more samplings of the berries in the garden, I've found that the berries that look otherwise perfectly ripe BUT have browning leaves have little or no taste. The ones that look ripe and have healthy, green leaves come out tasting absolutely amazing.

The verdict (for me, at least): brown leaves, toss the berry.

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