by Jane Moore

It's been a bumper year for strawberries ... we've been picking for all we're worth and my jam pan has scarcely left the stove.

StrawberriesIt's been a bumper year for strawberries on the Bathampton plot. Lizzy, Paul and I have been picking for all we're worth and my jam pan has scarcely left the stove.

We grow two varieties of strawberry: an early called 'Honeoye' and a later one, 'Florence', which is still yielding masses of fruit. The flavour of home-grown strawberries beats anything you can buy at the supermarket. The variety favoured by commercial growers is 'Elsanta', which is apparently robust enough to withstand rough treatment during the grading, packing and delivery processes.

Allotment strawberries don't have to cope with all this rough and tumble and taste infinitely better, although they probably don't keep as well.

We eat all the strawberries we can fresh with cream and sugar; I haven't tried this black pepper and balsamic vinegar business, as it just seems wrong! But there's still more than we can manage, so I set to, macerating the fruit with sugar overnight, then boiling it up with the juice of a lemon until it reaches 'setting point'.

This is the tricky part, as strawberries are a low pectin fruit and therefore quite difficult to turn into a nicely set jam. I gave up trying a few years ago and now settle for a really fruity conserve (or runny jam).

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Gardeners' World Web User 05/07/2008 at 11:21

This is our first year of allotmenteering, strawberries were mostly enjoyed by the field mice. Do we just leave the plants alone and let the shoots find there own planting or do we cut them off and plant properly. We did'nt expect much our first year and we are looking forward, having produced a mouse defence system to, to a good crop next year.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/07/2008 at 17:17

I made gooseberry jam and put some spare strawberries in. It tasted almost entirely of strawberries and set wonderfully.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/07/2008 at 21:51

i would love to grow strawberries on my allotment and plan to do this next year, but i don't know the best way to grow them to avoid the most pests. i have tried growing some in a old barrel with holes in the sides but found that they dried out very quickly and i had a bad infestation of wood louse that chomped there way through the lot. so what is the best way to grow them? which varietys are the best taste but still have a great yield as i'm a bit of a pig when it comes to strawberries. Many Thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/07/2008 at 19:33

Have been eating strawberries now non stop for 6wks.Took runners off my old plants last year and created a new bed on the allotment to give fresh ground and left old one fallow this year. I think it worked well as the old one was probably worn out.Can anyone suggest a very late strawberry as i would like to extend the season more.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/07/2008 at 10:46

My tanacetum plants produced a fabulous display for June but now the flowers have faded and the display looks dull. Should I leave alone or cut back?

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