Saturday, October 12, 2013

Le Fraisier des bois, woodland strawberry

 Woodland or alpine strawberry 
Fragaria vesca (Rosaceae)
I have been after the white fruited strawberry for years as it was once readily available at herb nurseries and then it disappeared from the garden scene. Now it has been included in a mixed strawberry seed packet in the Mr Fothergill's range of products. The white fruited variety is said to be less attractive to birds though I have had no trouble with birds pecking at the red ones as the fruit is often hidden under a leaf canopy and not easy to spot. The perfect forage fruit really as there is the thrill of the hunt involved in finding these tasty snacks.
Growing strawberries from seed is in the medium difficulty range. The seed is as fine as dust and just needs to be surface sown and kept evenly moist. Germination is usually very good but the little plants just sit there for ages with hardly any leaves while they put down long fine roots. Often you end up with a mass of young plants growing together. However they are actually fairly tough and I have separated tiny plants from a tangle of fine roots and they all survive and develop quite quickly. Once on their own in a pot or garden bed, they make a big spurt of growth and before you know it they are producing fruit. it is just in the initial month after germination that you think they are never likely to come to much.
Plants benefit from a bit of shade in the hottest months and towards the end of summer they can be sheared off at ground lever to refresh the plants and leaves quickly return with autumn rain. Regular applications of liquid organic fertilizer keeps them producing lots of fruit for many months. Of course it takes a lot of patience to harvest a lot of fruit to use in a dessert and they tend to be eaten in the garden and not make it inside to the table. These seeds are available from: Mr. Fothergill's Seeds & Bulbs

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