I have mixed feelings towards the strawberry. I rarely enjoy processed strawberries – such as in jams, compotes, cheesecake, and so on. Fresh strawberries vary greatly. Not so many years ago one would struggle to find a strawberry in the greengrocer or supermarket that had much flavour, at least according to my taste. Things have improved in recent years, though, with Elsanta – to my mind, a bland and undesirable fruit – being supplanted by varieties that provide much improved aroma, flavour, and visual appeal, such as Malling Centenary and Sweet Eve. I have, consequently, enjoyed renewed appreciation for the fresh fruit.
Our own once productive strawberries had not done well for a couple of years – the stock needed replacing, but as we were planning to renovate the garden and lose the old fruit cage this did not happen. Now we have finally planted new strawberries plants: the early season Gariguette in one of the cold frames, the perpetual Mara des Bois in one of the beds in the fruit cage, and, in pots, the early to mid season Malling Centenary and late season Florence.
Planted from bare root runners, we should get a reasonable crop in the summer. Our other soft fruit plantings will yield little or nothing until next year, and probably not much until the year after, so we are particularly looking forward to some homegrown strawberries. Strawberries are one of those fruits that does not ripen after picking; the homegrown sort can be more easily picked at the peak of ripeness and can therefore be notably more sweet, aromatic, and flavourful. I am particularly looking forward to the Gariguettes; this one has long been a favourite variety.