The alpine strawberry (Fragaria vesca) is a smaller but more flavourful version of common garden strawberries. Closely related to wild or woodland strawberries, the alpines are considered a gourmet strawberry. Producing throughout the summer, alpines are easy to grow, either in beds or containers. They are hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3a though 8b.
Place the packet of seeds in the freezer for four weeks. This will coax them out of dormancy.
Fill a seeding flat with moistened seed-starting mix and scatter the alpine strawberry seeds on the surface. Cover the seeds with 1/8 inch of sand. Use the misting bottle to lightly moisten the sand layer.
Cover the flat with cling film and place it in an area with bright light, but out of direct sun, that remains between 18.3 and 23.8 degrees C. If you are using grow lights, place the tray 6 inches beneath the lights for 14 hours a day.
Check the soil periodically to make sure it remains moist. Spray the soil with water from the misting bottle, if necessary.
Remove the cling film when the seeds have germinated and keep the seedlings in the same amount of light and at the same temperature. The seeds will generally not all germinate at the same time and can begin sprouting between one and six weeks.
Transplant the alpine strawberry seedlings two months after planting the seed. Use 4-inch pots and plant them in equal parts of potting soil and sand. Place them back in the bright room with temperatures between 18.3 and 23.8 degrees C. Keep the soil moist at all times.
Choose a spot in the garden in which to grow the strawberry plants when they have begun to fill the 4-inch pots. The site should be in full sun.
Spread a 3-inch layer of compost over the strawberry bed and use a gardening fork to mix it into the top 6 inches of soil.
Dig holes that are the same depth and twice the diameter of the planting pots. Remove the alpine strawberry plants from their pots and place the roots in the hole. When planted, the crown -- the point where the stem meets the roots -- should sit at soil level, so add or remove soil from the hole until it is at the proper depth.
Spread the roots out in the hole and then fill the hole with soil. Firm the soil around the base of the strawberry plants with your hands.
Water the alpine strawberry plants to a depth of 2 inches and provide them with 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
Spread a 2-inch layer of organic mulch on the soil around the strawberry plants. This will insulate the soil, keeping the root area cool and moist.
Fertilise the alpine strawberry plants when they begin producing berries. Use a 20-20-20 fertiliser at half the rate suggested on the label every time you water the berries from this point.
Things you need
- Seeding flat
- Seed starting mix
- Cling film
- Misting bottle
- 4-inch pots
- Potting soil
- Gardening fork