Tag Archives: Alpine strawberries

How to ensure maximum germination of Alpine Strawberry seed

Although I’ve touched upon this earlier, I think this topic is important enough to warrant it’s own specific article.

Strawberry seedling

Wild strawberry seedling

Maybe you’ve seen seeds for sale of alpine strawberry varieties, maybe you’ve come across warnings on the seed packets that “germination may be sporadic or take a long time”. I’ve grown various varieties of alpine strawberry from seed, and I’ve not had any problems. Certainly I don’t expect 100% germination (I wouldn’t with any other type of seed either). But it’s definitely not been unreliable for me, or slow.

Requirements to help your chances of good germination:

  • fine seed compost, whether or not you want to use peat based compost is your own choice
  • misting bottle
  • something to use as a propagator; this can be as simple as a plastic bag or some see through foil tied over the top of the pot, or one of those cheap windowsill propagator set ups they seem to be selling all over the place.
  • Indoor growing space (you have to be able to keep the seeds around room temperature)
  • Strawberry seeds (best is prepared ones – this means they have been “stratified” by keeping them in cold temperatures such as a fridge for a couple of months to simulate winter temperatures outdoors)

I have not tried this outdoors, because all the information I’ve found for growing strawberry seeds successfully says you need about 18 degrees Celsius for germination to take place. Ideally you’ll want to sow strawberries in autumn or early spring and so it will be much colder than 18 degrees outdoors. If you have a heated greenhouse to your disposal, perhaps you’d be able to try growing strawberry seedlings in there, but unfortunately I do not. So far I’ve also just planted strawberry seeds in Autumn or early spring, I might just do an outdoor growing experiment in the summer…

Strawberry seedling success – step by step:

  1. Put the fine compost in your propagator tray / pot. Make sure to get rid of solid lumps of compost, the texture of the soil should be loose and thin. If required, water the pot so the compost is moist.
  2. Sprinkle the seeds lightly over the top. Make sure they’re not clustered together or you will have a lot of trouble transplanting germinated seedlings out into separate containers.
  3. Mist with water and cover your growing container with a clear lid or clear plastic foil. There is no need for airing holes.
  4. Keep the container on a bright windowsill (not direct sunlight though, that will most certainly dry out the compost too quickly).
  5. Until germination takes place it is vital that you do not let the soil dry out. Your clear lid should have condensation on it and you might need to mist the soil with your spray bottle once a day or whenever you remember.
  6. Once seedlings appear, you can take the lid off but keep misting every so often to ensure they don’t dry out. Ideally at this point you’ll want the roots to get moisture and the green tops not to be too moist or they might rot, but strawberry seedlings are so delicate that watering them might crush them so misting is OK as long as you keep them uncovered and in a relatively airy room.

Note: if the strawberry seed you have has not been stratified already, you will have to keep it in the fridge for a while prior to planting or the seeds may not germinate. But that being said, every batch of seeds I’ve tried came up just fine without any special treatment, so I’m assuming most sources sell the seeds already pre-stratified.

 


Strawberry seedling update 2

Exciting things are happening as the days are getting longer and sunnier (?!). My first batch of wild strawberry seedlings is growing very well indeed. Soon I’ll have to transplant from their individual 3cm cells to bigger pots. Hopefully if the weather improves I’ll be able to harden them off and plant them outside also to free up much needed window sill space.

And something odd is going on with the biggest plant – it has actually developed a tiny little runner! I’m not sure yet what I’ll do, let it root in another pot or cut it off so the little plant conserves more energy but it’s definitely interesting. This especially since all I had read and heard about alpine strawberries was that they tend to not send out runners…

Also, the batch of Yellow alpine strawberries I had sown in February is doing very well indeed. Comparing the two, the batch sown in early spring is growing at a faster pace than those sown in autumn. For months over the winter it seemed like nothing was happening, but with these new little seedlings, it’s all happening a bit quicker. In a few months time I’ll be able to see whether there are real differences in when they start producing flowers and fruit.


Birdproofing your strawberry plants with zero hassle

Anyone who has ever grown strawberries or other berries particularly loved by our feathered friends has probably shared in the same feeling of frustration and disappointment. To wait for what seems like forever for that first fruit to ripen to a gorgeous colour, salivating at the thought of its juicy sweetness, only to find that it has been eaten by something before we had the chance to harvest it ourselves.

Birds are great in the garden for a number of reasons. Not only can they be pretty and entertaining to look at, also they help get rid of certain pests. For example they may eat slugs which may also be responsible for destroying certain garden crops. But of course, we feel envious and spiteful when instead of ridding the lettuce of slugs, the birds decide to raid our soft fruit plants and shrubs.

We may even consider putting up fruit cages and netting to avoid such things from happening and I’m sure this is a quite effective way of protecting your allotment crops. But honestly, who wants to have a backyard covered in unsightly netting. Plus, putting up netting wastes precious time and energy we would rather spend elsewhere. So what to do?

Well, it seems that birds are mainly attracted to some of our favourite soft fruits like Strawberries and Raspberries because of their colour!

So the easiest way of birdproofing your strawberry plants is by growing different colours of strawberries.

There are some very nice varieties available that produce yellow or white fruit which birds will simply ignore. These may not be as attractive to look at as “proper” red ones, once you get over their “unripe” appearance, the flavour might surprise you.

Some suggestions:

White Soul / White Delight – Fragaria Vesca (alpine strawberry)

Yellow Alpine / Yellow Wonder – Fragaria Vesca (alpine strawberry)

Both of these are fairly similar looking plants, compact yet abundant as alpine strawberries should be.  And the fruit is small and white or yellow respectively and full of sweetness and flavour!

There are also some conventional type strawberries to choose from:

Pineberry – Fragaria x ananassa (Sold by a lot of names incl. “Anablanca” or “White dream”

Supposedly these taste of pineapple rather than strawberry but I can’t comment because I haven’t tried them. They seem to be extremely expensive to buy though!

Birdproof Raspberry tips:

So once you’ve sorted out your strawberries, you’re curious about raspberries as well?

Once again, you can opt for a yellow fruiting variety such as “Allgold” or I’ve recently come across one called “Twotimer Sugana Yellow”.

And what if you’ve got a bit raspberry patch already and are not interested in changing all the canes you ask? Well instead of going all neat-freak on your raspberry canes and tying them up to prevent them from flopping over, how about just ignoring the mess and letting them be. If they lean over as they grow and start bearing fruit, the leaves work as a rather useful shield to make the ripe berries less visible from above, and therefore fewer birds are likely to notice them!


Growing strawberries from seed

January is almost over and although it’s been pretty cold overnight, it seems as though we haven’t had a winter at all this year. And yet it looks like spring is coming quickly!

So that means you can start thinking about all the exciting things to grow in your garden this year, and even get your first seeds planted indoors for early crops.

There are a lot of different varieties of Strawberry out there. I have previously explained already that I’m quite disillusioned with all the main stream “commercial” type strawberries. It’s very difficult achieving good flavour when the plant has been bred specifically for other qualities. The most common strawberries people grow in their garden are hybrids which means you can’t reliably grow them from seeds. It is simply a matter of luck what you end up with if you do plant their seeds. The results could be amazing, or quite underwhelming.

So let’s leave those regular strawberries and focus instead on what I built this site for: Gourmet varieties of strawberry, specifically Alpine Strawberries. These are not hybridised and therefore many come true from seed. In fact they are very hard to find ready grown so your only option really is to grow from seed.

If you have enough indoor space (and not necessarily a set up with grow lights, although this would help!) you can start your strawberry seed indoors now. If you take good care of the little plants, they should start to grow quickly enough during spring so perhaps towards the end of the season you could expect to see some flowers and fruits. Don’t worry if they are a bit slow, generally strawberry plants are known to be most productive in their 2nd and 3rd year, so the first is bound to be a bit slow.

How to grow Alpine Strawberries from seed

Plants are meant to reproduce by seed, so this is not supposed to be a very difficult process. Just like any other seed, it needs light, moisture and nutrition to grow.

The easiest way of ensuring that the seeds get enough of all three, is to get a little propagator with a lid, like this. It need not be heated since you’re going to put it indoors anyway. Put it on a bright window sill away from direct sunlight. An east or west facing window is best. Or if you do have grow lights then you’ll probably want to use those.

Put some compost in the tray, keep it reasonably fluffy and light, don’t press it down too much. If it’s very dry, you might want to water the compost to get it moist (not muddy!). Then take your strawberry seeds and sprinkle them over the top. Don’t sow them too densely, but perhaps 30 seeds for a full size seed tray.

Strawberry seeds are tiny so I don’t feel they need to be covered with a thick layer of compost. If you’re worried that they’re too exposed, just swish them around with your finger tip so they get embedded in the compost a little.

If necessary mist with some water and put the propagator lid on.

And wait.

My seeds sprouted within about a week or two, fairly standard in comparison with many other plants I’ve grown from seed. I’ve read on other websites that growing alpine strawberries from seed can be tricky and germination rates are low, but I didn’t find this at all. Perhaps I got lucky and bought very high quality seeds?

Anyway. Keep an eye on the tray so it doesn’t dry out (you’ll want to see water droplets hanging from the clear lid. Once the seedlings come up you can take the lid off and let them grow to a manageable size for pricking out and potting on.

I started mine in autumn and although they haven’t done much over the winter, I hope this will give me a little head start on this year’s crop!