Strawberry Time

Strawberries – the diamonds of the edible garden. An edible garden isn’t half as exciting without these shiny red jewels. Once you have nurtured your own strawberries, plucked the ripe,  juicy fruits fresh from the plant and tasted their sweet, delicious flesh, you will not bother buying or eating supermarket strawberries ever again. Or if you cave in, you will reap disappointment. ‘Tis strawberry time. Not eating, but planting. The taste buds will have to wait a little longer.

Strawberry plant
Strawberry ‘Chandler’.

Strawberries can be planted in spring or autumn, and, since I want strawberries next spring or summer, I have gone the autumn route. After researching cultivars for my Fruit Plan, I decided I wanted the strawberry ‘Temptation’, botanically named Fragaria x ananassa ‘Gabrielle’. It is supposed to fruit over a long period from October to March as well as taste good. However, I could not get my hands on any. It is still a fairly new cultivar and is protected by PVR (Plant Variety Rights) so is perhaps not as widely available as the likes of ‘Pajaro’, which is in public domain. For information on PVR, see the Intellectual Property Office website, where you can use the ‘Search Now’ button to check which plant cultivars are protected. It is illegal to propagate for sale any plant that is protected without the permission of the Rights holder, so do your homework before selling plants!

That tangent aside, I was left with a strawberry gap in my Fruit Plan, which meant I had to start my research again. It came down to a toss up between ‘Camarosa’ and ‘Chandler’. I have had ‘Pajaro’ and ‘Seascape’ before, one of which was more prone to pests, less vigorous and less reliable at fruiting, but due to a labelling mistake (I didn’t label any) I was never quite sure which was which. Time to try something else! Both ‘Camarosa’ and ‘Chandler’ are supposed to be excellent, but one forum comment I read suggested that ‘Chandler’ tastes slightly superior. So then, it was convenient that I had just been offered eight ‘Chandler’ plants that I had been watching on Trade Me for slightly cheaper than the original price. Sold! Eight plants is, of course, not enough for two people, but I will be patient and grow some more plants when these ones send out runners. The plants I bought are good-sized plants too. ‘Chandler’ is said to have a light crop in October-November followed by a main crop in December-January. I am very much looking forward to seeing how they go.

What I have planted them in is one of the most exciting finds of The Husband’s recent pallet missions – this extra long wooden beauty! All it needed was a few extra legs and some drainage holes to make one awesome, free planter box. I will have to find some netting to cover it once the fruit gets going, as Nala is far more interested in controlling crickets and moths than birds these days. The planter box fits just nicely along the patio here. I think I need another one…

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