Tiny, Tasty Alpine Strawberries

2010
05.21

Ripe berries are sweet as candy

Wild Strawberries and Alpine Strawberries are hardy, disease resistant and perfect for a low border or edging plant. They are also a great ground cover. Some folks include them in grass-free lawns. I’ve tried a couple of times to start wild strawberries from seed and failed. When I had the opportunity to start new gardens in a new home, I went a little overboard with these tiny berries.

Sweet fruits are grown from seed

I ordered “Mignonette” French strawberry seed from Renee’s Garden Seed and had great success using the AeroGarden. The plants, once started, are easy to grow. They are compact perennial Alpine strawberry plants producing sweet, pointed fruits from early spring to the last frost.

I notice that Renee’s has an article about these itty bitty berries on her web page. This is where I got the idea to use these strawberries as an edging plant. Renee’s is a reliable and prompt source to order seed. May or June is not too late to start plants from seed (and you will get prompt seed delivery here.)

That same year, I bought a Fragaria vesca “Ruege” plug pack of 12 plants from Richter’s. These sweet and tangy berries are just a little smaller in size of the wild ones on compact, runnerless plants but they do multiply and should be thinned every few years. Bears fruit from May til frost. Richter’s has the best selection of culinary and medicinal herb plants that I have found.

Both plants have multiplied rapidly.This spring, they started blooming in March. A late freeze only slows them down but they soon begin setting bloom again.

I think that those monster sized rugged and tasteless berries at the grocery store turned me away from normal strawberries. The tiny Alpine fruits taste like strawberry candy in comparison.

Tiny white blooms continue all summer

The first year, it was a contest to see who would get to eat these mini delicacies, me or the birds. There are so many of them and the season is so long, that now the birds and I have agreed to share the abundant harvest.

A third variety of strawberry grows in my gardens. French‘Mara des Bois’ from White Flower Farm.

‘Mara des Bois’ lives in hanging baskets on the patio and are just starting to produce this year. Last summer I had one or two berries and a winged predator or possibly my beloved ate the rest. There were not a lot of berries because the plants were busy trying to escape their confinement by sending runners over the edges of the hanging baskets. The berries are twice the size of the Alpine berries, but that still means a very small berry compared to what we find at the grocery. These hardy little plants over wintered in a hanging basket sitting on the patio all winter.

Fraises des bois is a French word for strawberries of the woods. The strawberries are also known by other names including: Fragaria vesca, Alpine Strawberry, Wild Strawberry, Woodland Strawberry, American Strawberry, European Strawberry, fraises des bois, and fraisier des bois. Call them what you will, these itty bitty berries a too fragile for transport. The little ones fetch premium prices at the market.

The tiny berries are beautiful garnish on a desert plate. It is said that tea made from the leaves will stimulate the appetite. They grow as an evergreen edging along the sidewalk in the potager, making for easy picking as I walk by.

Try balsamic vinegar with strawberries

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