Planting strawberries for next year
This is the second in a series of posts I have been commissioned to write by PomonaFruits – Garden Fruits Specialists. I thought this time I would look at soft fruits that you can buy now in order to enjoy next year. I do not grow a lot of soft fruit, but strawberries are a fruit that are very easy to grow and are one of those fruits that it is difficult to walk past without picking.
Strawberry 'Christine' photo c/o Pomona Fruits
Strawberries are not native to the UK as they were one of the introductions from the ‘New World’ in the sixteenth century. It was in France that the first garden strawberries were grown, by crossing the North American Fragaria virginiana with the South American Fragaria chiloensis. Now they are deeply embedded in our diet where they are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidents. I remember my mother buying strawberries in the summer and sprinkling them with sugar and placing them in the fridge so that the sugar would crystallise around the fruit until they were ready to eat with cream. It might not have been the healthiest way to eat this fruit, but as a treat it was good.
Strawberries are a member of the rose family and are not actually a ‘berry’ as their seeds are on the outside. Apparently the technical term for them is an ‘aggregate expanded receptacle’, which hardly rolls off the tongue. In nature the wild forms self-seed easily as they are eaten by birds and the seeds pass through the bird and out through the natural process of digestion. This means the seed is dropped in its own little packet of manure, what a clever seed.
Strawberry 'Fenella' photo c/o Pomona Fruits
Strawberries are associated with love, this is mainly due to them being shaped a bit like a heart. Legend has it if two people share a double strawberry they will fall in love with each other. Other myths include that Romans used to eat strawberries to cure melancholy. I think this might be similar as to when I eat chocolate. Of course, you cannot forget that also the Beatles sang about ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.
Strawberry 'Malling Centenary' photo c/o Pomona Fruits
Pomona Fruits are selling three ‘misted tips’ varieties of strawberries. I had not heard of ‘misted tips’ previously and I admit to being a bit concerned at first what it might mean something chemical might have occurred. It is, however, nothing of the sort: the process is that strong runner-tips are taken from high quality plants and then propagated in a ‘mist propagation unit’. Mist is used a lot in propagation and commercial growers of strawberries use this technique a lot. The benefit of this process is that you get a good ‘maiden crop’ in the first year of fruiting. So you plant them now in late summer and next year you have lots of strawberries. What is not to love?
The three varieties being sold by Pomona Fruits are: