The winter before last I was given twelve strawberry plants by a neighbour. I have no idea what variety they are, but I had tasted their delicious fruit and jumped at the chance of putting some in my garden.
That first summer we enjoyed a small harvest, a few berries to snack on if we could beat the ants to them. The flavour was so superior to those you buy in a supermarket it was almost like eating a totally different fruit! As the season continued the plants started to spread…and spread…and spread.
I now understand that many strawberry varieties produce ‘runners’ as a way of propagating themselves (i.e. taking over the garden). The ‘runners’ are horizontal stems that travel along the ground with nodes at various intervals. At these nodes they form adventitious (new favourite word) roots and basically form a clone plant. Given the right conditions, a plant can produce 30 to 50 runners!
I’m guessing the conditions are near perfect in my patch as they had just about taken over my perennial bed by summer’s end. To preserve the life of my asparagus, I reckon I pulled out hundreds of plants after last season. Leaving myself a thick strawberry border at the front of the bed, I eagerly awaited this summer’s harvest…and I’ve been well rewarded!
I’ve picked nearly 4kg of strawberries so far. Most have gone into four batches of jam – strawberry & ginger, strawberry & rhubarb, sugar-free strawberry jam, and an experimental (yet surprisingly good) batch of strawberry & redcurrant. Then there’s been coulis for the freezer, some for snacking, some for dessert… YUM.
I cannot stress enough how incredible the flavour is, how different from what you buy in a shop. Give them a try in your garden, start with one or two plants. Just be careful where you plant them, by next year you’ll have dozens!