Monday, May 02, 2016
These two great varieties of berries give me multiple crops each year. This is one of those 'seasons'.
The dark berries are a tomato relative called Wonderberry sometimes called Sunberry-- (Solanum burbankii)
A sweet berry with a hint of its tomato connection in the background of taste. They have a lot of seeds in them but are very soft and the whole berry is totally enjoyable.
I like them fresh, but some folks like to make pies with them. If I ever get a designated spot for them I will have enough for pies. For now I let them come up in most areas of the garden. That is one of their traits - they freely re-seed wherever. For me it is not a problem, but you may wish to keep them a little corralled in your gardens. Happy plants can get about 18 inches tall.
You can find the seed at Baker Creek It is an heirloom and the seeds breed true.
Next up are my white -- yes those are white and fully ripe strawberries, and red Alpine Strawberries (Fragaria vesca). Related to the wild strawberries these berries pack an amazing flavor in a small package and are incredibly fragrant when ripe. You can smell them as you approach the patch..
Unlike the larger strawberries, Alpines send out few runners, rather seeding in place (or wherever the seed ends up).
White Alpine Strawberries have a couple of unique qualities. The first is their taste -- tropical with a hint of pineapple. The second nice quality is two-fold, birds have difficulty seeing white and yellow fruit, so you get more to harvest for yourself. The other aspect is the foliage of both white and red tends to ride high and canopy the fruit, further shielding them from the critters.
Baker Creek also carries the seed for varieties of these Alpine Strawberries
I have been growing all three of these berries in my gardens for years and because I really enjoy them I tend to let them go were they will, but you can certainly establish your garden borders for them. They will reward you with years of production. They will grow in full sun or with some afternoon shade.
I highly recommend your adding these great berries to your garden. If you get the seed, you can under-sow (under the canopy edge) of existing garden plants NOW. Both types of berry germinate freely most of the year, with the exception of "our" deep winter (December-January).
The Alpine's are a bit fussy about transplanting, so if you need to start outside of the ground, my recommendation is jiffy pellets where you plant the whole pellet in the ground when you are ready to transplant. Wonderberry plants are a little more forgiving, however with both plants be careful of the roots when transplanting.
My next Free Seed Share at the Mesa Farmers Market will be Friday, June 24th - 9 a.m. to Noon.
I "may" have seed for these berry plants. I will have to see what produces mature seed - if I don't eat all the berries :-)
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Have a great day in the garden and kitchen!
-- Catherine, The Herb Lady
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