Alpine Strawberry – Fragaria vesca
Origin – Cousin of the wild strawberry found in Europe, Western Asia, North America, and temperate areas of Chile.
These lovely little plants fruit their first summer, producing small elongated berries with a very intense strawberry flavor. A hardy perennial, the Alpine Strawberry prefers humus-rich, acidic soil and partial sun.
Low-growing and runner-less, it is great for boarders or in a container.
Although this ever bearing plant can handle conditions to zone 4, it will deteriorate after a few years and need to be replaced. The good news is that Alpine Strawberries re-seed fairly easily from the seeds found in the skin. The trick to successful germinate these seeds is to cold-treat them prior to planting. This involves placing the seeds in an airtight container (I like to write the date on the container) and then putting it into a freezer for anywhere from three to four weeks (simulating a winter's exposure). When removing the seeds from the freezer, leave them in the unopened container for three to four hours, letting them slowly get back to room temperature before planting. I had problems in the past with damping off so I'm careful to always use sterile planting medium and water from the bottom.
Harvest the berries which come in red and yellow versions as soon as they ripen. Besides being sweeter than commercially grown strawberries, the Alpine Strawberry has antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
In these hot summer months, why not treat yourself, your pets and even the native wildlife to the wonderfully refreshing Alpine Strawberry.