Our most successful fruit so far this year has been the alpine strawberry. Safely nestled on a little slug and woodlice proof island (almost) they have been fruiting for months now.
They require very little maintenance once they have been planted and provide an abundance of little strawberries.
SOIL AND PLANTING
They seem to like fertile, well drained soil which is slightly acidic
Our alpine strawberries have done really well in containers. The bigger the container the better as the size of the plant will match the size of the container. We have two alpine strawberries in a largish car tyre and they are the biggest ones even though all of the runners were planted at the same time.
Make sure that the crown of the plant is not planted below the surface of the soil as they are prone to rotting.
Once you plant them there is very little maintenance however the older leaves gradually die and I remove these as well as the fruiting stalks that have finished up. I do this to try to reduce the possibility of woodlice and slugs taking up residence in the decaying leaves.
Also, as an extra deterrant to slugs and woodlice I soak each pot in water every so often. Any visitors that are sleeping over in the strawberry quickly leave for the safety of dry land.
They need plenty of water throughout the fruiting season but this year we didn't need to worry about that too much as it has been really wet for the last two months.
I have read that the alpine strawberries don't send out runners but they do create runner like pieces of new plant that can be taken off and planted.
You can see the little roots forming on the new shoot. If you weigh this down with a stone for a while so that it touches the soil the roots will grow stronger. In a couple of weeks you can cut the stalk that connects it to the mother plant. Leave it there a little longer just to give it a chance to catch its breath before you remove it and put it in a smallish pot.
This will probably start to send up flowers fairly soon but I will pinch them off for a while just to let it get a head start.
All strawberry seem to have to be replaced after a number of years. This could be between 3 and 6. I will find out more about this myself over the coming years but I'm sure it pays to have new plants coming on every year to ensure a steady supply of strawberries.
Apparently these strawberries can be grown from seed as well although I haven't tried it. I will though, and I'll do a post on the success or failure of the venture next year.
Our alpine strawberries have been giving fruit since the end of May and they show no signs of stopping now in the start of August. In order to have a enough fruit to have a couple of bowls of strawberries every few days you would need about 14 full size plants I think...maybe a few more.
Once they turn a deep red colour they must be picked fairly quickly as they tend to go off on the plant within a day. The taste turns bad so you need to go around every day checking to see which ones are ready. Once you pick them you must eat them within 30 minutes really. They don't keep well at all as they seem to just go dry and tasteless once off the plant.
In the picture above you can see a few stages of strawberries fruiting. The red strawberries look ready for picking from this angle but once you look at the other side they are still a bit white.
So far this year they have been very satisfying and I would really recommend them as they are so easy to look after and are quite attractive to look at too.