Sumptuous red strawberries picked warm from the plant are a summer delight that many of us look forward to. It is good to grow a number of varieties in an attempt to extend the harvesting season for as long as possible. But do you know about the equally delicious cousin of the modern hybrids, the alpine strawberry, also called the woodland of wild strawberry.
The fruit might be small in comparison with many of the modern cultivated giants, but once ripe it is packed with flavor and the plants go on fruiting for months on end. Also, you can pick fruit in varying quantities from June until the beginning of November from the same plants. This prolific habit does mean that the plants tire themselves out after a couple of years and have to be replaced, but are cheap and easy to propagate.
Alpine strawberries are usually propagated by seeds and these are sown from February to the end of April in a seed tray filled with multi-purpose or sowing compost. Plасе the tray in a heated propagator or on a heated mat/bench set to 21C (68F). Germination usually takes seven to 14 days.
Some varieties also produce slender runners and these can be allowed in root or pinned to the soil or to the surface of the compost in pots as they appear. Once rooted they are removed from the parent plant and grown on.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR PLANTS
Once the seedlings are big enough in handle move on into cells or individual pots and grow on until the plants are large enough to plant out in May/June, hardening off thoroughly beforehand. If frosts are forecast this can be done by moving the trays outside during the day and back indoors at night. After 7-10 days leave the plants outside permanently.
Plant in any reasonably fertile, well-drained soiI in partial shade. These compact strawberries which grow into small, spreading clumps 23-30cm (10-12in) across are ideal as a productive edging for the vegetable garden and certainly attractive enough to be grown in the ornamental garden where the ferny leaves, white flowers, and little red fruits look highly attractive. They also grow well around the base of trees and in a woodland setting.
The fruit is beet picked when fully mature where point they’ve their beet flavor. Harvest regularly to ensure a continued supply. Any which are missed will fall to the earth and it’s also common to find new plants popping up to replenish and enhance the original planting.
Birds and squirrels do not seem to search out these little fruits as much as they do ‘cultivated’ types.
Vine weevil adults and larvae will attack all types of strawberries, but again they don’t seem to suffer in quite the same way as their cultivated cousins. The same applies to slugs and snails.