mini gardeners

inspiring gardening projects for children

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Strawberry Hearts

grow yur own strawberries

The strawberry season is in full swing now and nothing beats the taste of a freshly harvested home-grown strawberry.

Strawberries are so easy to grow that they’re on our list of top ten plants for children. They’re tolerant of a wide range of soils and can be grown in patio pots, hanging baskets, window boxes or directly in the ground. Provided you pick a sunny spot and water regularly after planting until plants are established, you’re onto a winner.

Our top tips for strawberry growing:

1.Avoid those strawberry towers at all costs. They’re difficult to water (the water tends to flow straight out of the plating holes) and a regular pot or planter is much better.

2.Don’t get bogged down with choosing the “best” variety. The majority of our strawberries are grown from plants rescued from a jungle of overgrown grass and weeds on our allotment. We have no idea what type they are, but they’re delicious eaten straight from the plant with zero food miles and no cold storage anywhere in sight.

3. Plant at the correct depth – see here for details.

4. Strawberry plants usually need replacing every 3 to 5 years as yields will drop and plants become susceptible to disease. But the good news is that your strawberry plant will provide new plants for free. When your plant puts out runners (new plants on long stems) pot them up and sever from the parent plant when the roots are growing strongly.

5. If you’re growing a large number of strawberry plants, we can recommend planting through permeable weed control fabric. This significantly reduces weeding and watering and makes for a low maintenance strawberry patch.

And finally, if you end up with a few mushy strawberries that are slightly past their best, they’re perfect for making strawberry hearts:

frozen strawberry puree hearts

Simply puree the strawberries then pour into ice cube trays and freeze.  Great for serving alongside ice cream or for eating by themselves on a hot day.


Alpine Strawberry Seedlings

alpine strawberry seedlings

Am always on the look out for ideas to entice my children to spend more time at the allotment, and the latest weapon in my armoury is alpine strawberries.

These are miniature strawberries packed full of flavour that many adults find tedious to harvest – partly due their size and partly due to the fact that they crop little and often, compared with full sized strawberries which often have a bumper crop over a few weeks.

My cunning plan is to edge a whole bed with these dainty berries to provide a distraction at every allotment visit during the summer.  And because I need a lot of plants I’m growing them from seed.

Well so far, so good.  Two and a half weeks after sowing plenty of little seedlings have emerged.  Just waiting for the second set of leaves to appear before transplanting them.   I’m growing a cultivar called Mignonette (Fragaria vesca ‘Mignonette” if you want the full name) which apparently has good flavour but may not be quite so prolific as others.  Oh, and Thomson and Morgan say they’re perfect to pop into a glass of champagne.  What’s not to love?