There are lots of strawberry flowers in our garden at the moment which will hopefully translate into juicy, mouth watering, tasty bowls of fruit in a couple of months.
We have two types of strawberry in the collection.
The first one we got was an alpine strawberry.
About the Alpine Strawberry - This one, above, is the original one we got from the organic farm. It was fairly small when we got it but it grew to be nice and big fairly quickly and gave us a good few fruits in its first year. It will grow to be about a foot across. Alpine strawberries give a much smaller fruit than the standard strawberry, about 1cm in length, but the flavour is quite intense so they are definitely worth growing. They seem to fruit for longer than ordinary strawberries and they don't need as much sun - apparently they produce the best flavoured fruit in half shade. Also, the fruits did not seem to be too troubled by slugs last year as the fruiting stems stick straight up into the air rather than trailing on the ground.
Wood lice are still a bit of a problem but this year Chris is determined to sort that out.
He has discovered that wood lice can't swim! So here we have most of our strawberries on a raft with four legs that each have their own moat. The alpine strawberries are at the back with the normal ones at the front.
Slugs, while maybe not being able swim, seem to be able survive a prolonged spell in water. But we are not sure if they will voluntarily jump into the water in order to seek fresh strawberries to chomp on so we will have to wait and see what happens. As we also have ordinary strawberries on this raft we are determined to find a way to stop them gaining access.
The alpine strawberries are very easy to propagate as they send out loads of baby plants on short runners during the summer. I have taken at least 10 runners off the original plant that we got last year and these new plants are already doing really well.
This is a large car tyre filled with two alpine strawberries that only came into existence in autumn of last year. While all the baby plants were getting established I kept picking all the flowers off them in order to help them conserve energy. This tyre will have to have it's own raft made soon.
The alpine strawberries seemed to begin flowering earlier than the normal strawberries and as far as I know they go on longer too. So overall there seems to be a lot of reasons to grow alpine strawberries even though the fruits are a lot smaller. This year we will be able to make more comparisons with the other strawberries as we have about 7 normal strawberry plants now which are well established.
The next post on Alpine Strawberries will talk more about how to grow them.