Alpine strawberries

by Lila Das Gupta

Alpine strawberries are exquisite in taste, and although much smaller, they are ever-bearers, which means they go fruiting until the first frosts...

Alpine strawberriesI have a soft spot for alpine strawberries: on our very first allotment our next door neighbour gave my then wee daughter a clump to grow in her own raised bed. We left them on the plot when we moved, but my daughter still talks about them fondly.

If you have limited space, or are growing in pots, I always consider alpine strawberries a better bet than garden strawberries. Alpine strawberries are exquisite in taste, and although much smaller, they are ever-bearers, which means they go on fruiting until the first frosts. The plants themselves are also daintier than garden strawberries, so they make a very pretty ground cover.

You can still just about get away with sowing alpine strawberry seed this May, since the cold winter weather has put planting back by a few weeks.

I sowed a variety called 'Baron Solemacher' in a heated propagator a few days ago, but I've also ordered some plants online. Bare-rooted plants are held in cold storage, which means they can be sent out any time up to July to crop in the same year.

My original alpine strawberries were of an unidentified variety, but amongst the most flavoursome ones are 'Mara des Bois', which you can find in French markets, 'Alexandria', which has fewer but larger fruit than the Baron listed above and 'Gariguette', another French variety which has a distinctive long shape. The latter is grown by Raymond Blanc in his restaurant garden in Oxfordshire.

My alpine strawberries will be used as edging on my lettuce beds at home where I've dug in some home-made compost to enrich the soil. All we need now is some warm weather - it won't be long before I'm opening the backdoor first thing to pick these red gems for my breakfast bowl.

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Gardeners' World Web User 07/05/2010 at 22:20

Are these the same as wild strawberries. I was recommended to grow these so i ordered some seed online late february. They grow slowly once germingated, but are coming on now and i think they are ready to plant out in a few weeks time. Can't wait for my first harvest. But with my newly planted garden strawberries i pinched out the flowers last year and now they are full of flowers, should i do that with the wild ones aswell.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/05/2010 at 08:54

Wild or woodland strawberries are the same as alpine strawberries, though the named cultivars above have bigger fruit than the ones you see growing wild. I don't pinch the flowers out, though if you have quite a few plants it would make an interesting experiment to do so on a few of them to observe what happens.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/05/2010 at 11:19

Judging from the weather forecast, alpine strawberries might be the only fruits worth growing. Shame there are no alpine tomatoes.

Gardeners' World Web User 11/05/2010 at 07:36

In my former, old established, cottage garden, I had wild strawbs everywhere. Although many were only pea-sized, they had a delightful cologne flavour,great for topping posh desserts, or just nibbling when lying in the grass. Anyone have an idea how to get wild ones back into my new garden? I miss the little darlings.

Gardeners' World Web User 11/05/2010 at 09:13

potagergirl- you can buy the seeds now and sow them. They will take about a month to germinate but you will be able to plant them out in the summer and leave them to do their thing. They will soon find their preferred habitat.

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