by Ginny Clayton.
These little fruits are loved by one and all, including the birds and insects!
There are several strawberry varieties to consider- apart from the conventional large, red juicy types that we see in supermarkets and for sale at Farmers markets, there are other varieties that are truly little gems.
The Captain Cook variety is on the way to becoming available again- nearly lost, this superb tasting heirloom strawberry will be great to have back in our gardens.
Alpine strawberries are so good to grow in your garden- the clumping varieties make wonderful borders. How nice it is to go out to admire your gardening efforts and select a few tasty strawberries on the way!
The beauty of the Alpines is that they will fruit for most of the year, especially in frost free areas. Mine have not stopped flowering and fruiting for 2 years in their sheltered raised beds.
There are two main types- red ones and white ones. We particularly love the white ones, as they taste almost like pineapple when fully ripe! The other big plus for the white variety is that the birds do not know when they are ready, so all the more for us!
I like to have a mix of red and white ones- they look great together in dishes and also when growing. There is also a yellow fruited variety, but this one appears to be less hardy than the others.
Alpines are good at multiplying- after a season or two, break up the clump types and plant out the resulting plants- much easier to handle than runners everywhere!
There is a creeping type of Alpine strawberry, good for naturalising under trees or where you want a low ground cover- the fruits of these are not as big as the bush ones, but still pickable.
I class these great little plants as herbs- they go beautifully in a mixed herb/vegetable garden, and with their attractive foliage, flowers and fruit are a great asset to any garden!