A strawberry that has Mara Des Bois and Gariguette, both highly reputed for flavour, in its heritage has a lot to live up to. Unfortunately for Manille, despite what the catalogues will tell you it is simply not in the same league. It lacks the intense flavour of both and on the sharp side if picked a moment before it is so ripe it is about to turn alcoholic. Berries are small and although the plant produces many of them, yields are only average. However it does have one advantage. It is the earliest on the plot that I’m currently growing.
You can buy bare root strawberries for delivery in early spring or in pots for planting in the spring.
Bare roots are normally more economical as they can be sent out in small bundles so save on postage and packaging. They should be planted in early autumn or early spring. If they arrive during the winter then as soon as the plants arrive, pot in to some sterile compost and keep in a light and cool but frost free area, such as a porch or conservatory. keeping the compost slightly damp but not wet. Plant out in early spring.
Ready grown pots of strawberries can also be bought, usually in early spring for planting straight away.
Strawberries need to be planted in a bed that has been cleared of all perennial weeds and they will occupy the space for 3-5 years. Dig in 50 litres of compost or well rotted manure for every 2 meters square. Plant the strawberries in rows with each plant 35cm apart and the rows 75 cm apart. Strawberries should be planted so that the crown is just visible above the surface. Water well. Continue to water well for the next few weeks until the roots are established. If planting perpetual strawberries then remove the first set of flowers but only remove summer ones if the plants look weak.
Protect ripening strawberry’s from birds who will otherwise get them long before you.
Plants will start to become less productive after a few years but they produce runners (mini new plants) from the main plant which can be used to start again. In young plants cut of the runners as soon as they emerge but in the third year, encourage runners to root by pining to the soil or a pot filled with compost using a small piece of wire. Cut from the main plant once roots have started to form. Allow a maximum of 5 runners per plant and remove any runners you do not want to propagate.
Early to late June.
In the kitchen
Smaller strawberries than you would be used to seeing in the supermarket. Does not pack the big flavour punch of its relation Mara Des Bois but yields are higher.
Yield and plant health
Healthy plants with many small berries. Average yields.
I will keep a few plants to try against another variety. Let the taste test decide!