Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

VPGGB #15: Strawberries


A lot of my strawberries up at the plot are either nearing the end of their useful working lives or are so interplanted with weeds at the moment, I need to thoroughly makeover their homes. This has also given me an opportunity to review the varieties I'm growing and change things around a little.

I'm really pleased with the Mae and Christine varieties I'm growing: they're both early varieties (cropping late May, or even earlier if I ever got around to protecting them with a cloche or some fleece), crop prolifically and taste wonderful. They're also generous with their runners, so I'll be making sure they're potted up this year ready to make a new bed for them. That's strawberry bargain #1: lots of plants for free. The parent plants of each variety are still very vigorous, so I'm confident I'll have lots of healthy progeny ready for next year's crop.

Both were freebies given away with a couple of garden magazines a few years ago, so that's strawberry bargain #2, as were the Florence (a late variety) I found in one of my magazines last month. I had a quick poll a couple of weeks ago to see which strawberry varieties my Twitter buddies like and this one came highly recommended. I should be taking delivery of my plants very soon.

Strawberry bargain #3 are the pictured Marshmello. I first came across this variety a couple of years ago at Gardeners' World Live where Marshalls had basketfulls available for taste testing. They were scrummy and I returned several times just to make sure the flavour was as good as I found the first time ;) I was delighted to find Marshmello plants on special offer when I was at Hampton Court last month: 18 bare root plants for a fantastic fiver. As you can see they've grown into very healthy plants in a mere few weeks, which are already bearing flowers and fruit :)

Bargain #4 is the alpine strawberry seed which came with one of my copies of Gardens Illustrated magazine earlier this year. I'm planning a new area for my allotment to trial a no dig salad bed and I'm going to edge the raised bed I'll be using for this purpose with plants I'm raising from this seed.

So I have found a number of different bargains when it comes to one of my favourite fruits. I just need to find some Mara des Bois (another Twitter recommendation: it's an everbearer i.e. crops intermittently over the entire summer and into the autumn, and is reputed to taste like a wild strawberry, but at the usual strawberry size) at the right price now and my new strawberry collection will be complete :)

What are your favourite strawberry varieties? Have you found any good bargains lately, strawberries or otherwise?

6 comments:

  1. Marshmello is truly divine. I'm a big fan of Red and White, or is White and Red, an alpine type with...yes, red and white fruit. Mount Everest has been a big, and I mean big, success this year. It makes whopping plants, has super long runners (that you can train up trellis, and the fruit doesn't taste bad either.

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  2. I'm easily pleases full stop. I'm reminded once again that I have no idea why I'm not growing strawberries! Love them!

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  3. If it ever stops raining I need to get to the lottie to tidy up strawberries amongst other things. Don't know names of two varieties that I was given as a gift by lottie neighbours. The third variety I grow is 'Cambridge Favourite' which is rather tasty. 'Mara de Bois' is on my list too so please let me know if you find her at the right price :)

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  4. I think DT Browns stock Mara des Bois - 5 for 5.95 or 15 for 11.90. Better get my order in before word gets out :-)
    Susanne

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  5. If you can name a variety which is unattractive to foxes (yes foxes) then that would be a winner.

    It would of course be even better if they had a long season and tasted superb.

    We planted four or maybe five different varieties with the intention of judging which was best suited to our soil. Little fruit in the first year but the second year (& later) was very good (apart from the foxes). The only problem was that I neglected to appreciate that strawberries "run" so I haven't got a clue which variety is which (schoolboy error I know). So back to the drawing board.

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  6. Martyn - I like the sound of your recommendations, especially the one that can be trained up a trellis. More fruit for less space!

    Monica - you must grow some immediately!

    Anna - my Cambridge Fabourite experience hasn't been that great - not well flavoured and was rather prone to mould. Perhaps your area is better suited than my heavy clay?

    Anonymous aka Susanne - welcome! I've spotted them in the DT Brown catalogue too, must put in my order pronto!

    Simon - hmm you have me foxed ;) I've probably had the same thing happen with my Mae and Christine runners too.

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