Now is the time to think about buying strawberry plants. There are hundreds of varieties of strawberry that will grow in the UK, so don’t just grab the first plants you see in the garden centre, do a little research and enjoy strawberries all through the season.
I’m growing strawberries in the greenhouse this year, simply because of the damage inflicted by slugs and birds. I don’t want to net and scatter slug pellets all over my fruit, so I’m growing in pots to see how it works out.
Strawberry varieties can be classed as ready to harvest in “early summer”, “mid summer”, “late summer”, or “everbearer” which crop all year round.
First up is Marshmello, an everbearer recommended by Raymond Blanc as his “favourite strawberry” so it must be good. The plants can be grown in pots and have been bred for their superb flavour. You can harvest the fruits from May to September.
Described as “The Chef’s Favourite” the everbearer Mara des Bois offers intense aromatic flavours and crops all year round. The variety combines the cropping potential of commercial varieties with the intense flavours of alpine and woodland varieties. Harvest from July to mid September.
Flamenco is an everbearer producing from July to September. The strawberry is sweet to the taste and if you’re lucky, you can harvest just under 1kg of fruit per plant.
For an early summer harvest of sweet strawberries, Gariguette is a good choice. The fruits are vermilion red and elongated. This strawberry is grown commercially in Provence.
A good choice for a mid summer crop is Tenira a plant that provides a heavy crop in the first season but then provides less fruit in subsequent seasons. The fruit is medium sized and full of flavour.
For a heavy crop of fruits in late summer, try Chelsea Pensioner the deep red fruits are juicy and sweet and yields are good.
So, that’s six of the best. I’m going to try to get some Mara des Bois this season to grow in the greenhouse. You may get a reasonable crop in the first season, but you’ll probably get a better crop the season following with new plants. Most of these varieties can be bought on the internet. I have used Ebay to buy plants and seeds but quality has been variable. Try Suttons, or Unwins or Ken Muir to get the best quality or have a root around in your local garden centres.