Phew, I succeeded in protecting these Mara des Bois from the recent frosts, courtesy of an emergency covering of fleece.
Do not bother to grow the same varieties that you can buy in the supermarket, but instead go for the wonderful old- fashioned varieties that do not travel at all well, and thus are not of any use to commercial growers. Go back and read Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy and savour the part where the heroine is seduced with an English garden strawberry. It must have been Royal Sovereign or Cambridge Favourite because nothing else could have done the trick so sumptuously. I have some Cambridge Favourite coming on, but they will not be ready until next year, as they were only planted this March as cold stored runners. Although I may get one or two small ones, and I am certainly NOT cutting off any flowers which appear. The picture above shows an old bed- at least 6 years old!- of Mara des Bois. This is a wonderful French variety which is crossed with the wild strawberry. The fruits are red throughout and pointed with a superb fragranced taste. I couldn’t bear to dig it up quite yet, even though it is on its last legs as you can see. I have got another new row coming along elsewhere. They are supposed to be perpetual, or remontant, but I find that they pretty much crop once a summer, albeit over a fairly long 4 week period.
Today I finished off the preparations for our strawberry crop. Yesterday, the plants were well watered, and today I applied a generous sprinkling of slug pellets and then lovingly cradled them in a layer of chopped rape straw, followed by a final sprinkling of slug pellets. Now I know all you fanatically organic gardeners will groan, but I know through bitter experience that only the dreaded metaldehyde chemical will do. My conscience is clear that I will not be harming any wildlife apart from slugs, as my Strawberry Patch is VERY well netted , not just against the birds, but also to prevent my dogs from rampaging through it. I don’t use slug pellets in my flower borders, because I am happy to let nature take its course there. However, if you want to feed a family in a relatively small space, then please don’t feel bad about using some artificial aids. Anyone who responds by saying use beer traps/ copper bands/ organic approved slug pellets/ go out in the middle of the night to catch them……I say, get a life!New fruit cage just started