On writing this I am a little puzzled. I’ve had a little patch of white alpine strawberries for several years which I believed to be White Soul and if you google the variety a lot will be a small white alpine strawberry with yellow seeds. However when checking for UK suppliers I came across one with the same name but with pink seeds which look very pretty. The yellow seeded variety, possibly because of the very dry weather we have had doesn’t quite match up in the looks department, in fact they look decidedly second class however flavour wise they are a little bombshell. I will buy some of the pink variety and let you know if there is a difference taste wise!
My yellow seeded variety is a small compact neat plant that is good for edging or the front of the border. Each berry is tiny about the size of a marrow fat pea at it’s biggest. The white colour means it is pretty much left alone by birds which is a serious advantage.
Flavourwise wild strawberries have a different flavour profile from your normal supermarket giant reds being more tropical, almost pineapple and bubblegum flavoured and they punch above their weight, only needing a couple to impart a strong flavour to a dish.
In the kitchen
Add as an accent to strawberry dishes, place a couple at the bottom of a creme brûlée or on top of some yogurt. For something a little more unusual try lightly pickling a few in raspberry vinegar to sprinkle in a salad.
Yield and plant health
Alpine strawberries are very robust and rarely suffer from the host of diseases that can affect a main strawberry crop however their yield is tiny. You may get 4 little berries at a time from each plant so you will need a lot to make a meal but they do crop a few times during the summer. You do not need to protect from birds so especially useful in a potager. Alpine strawberries do not propagate by runners but by seed. If you don’t eat all the berries you might find them a bit invasive but I have grown them for over five years and have not found that to be an issue.
To get a serving of wild strawberries every now and then you will need circa 10 – 20 plants but if you do not have that much space they can still make an interesting garnish to other strawberry dishes or deserts. Plants are best sown from seed but can be divided in early spring as well..
To sow seed, in early spring sow seeds thinly in a seed tray filled with seed compost. Sprinkle a very fine covering over the seeds. Mist the surface with water and cover with a propagator lid or clear plastic bag to retain moisture. Mist the surface if it starts to look dry. Germination can take 2 weeks to 2 months. Once germination has occurred wait until you see two true leaves that look like proper strawberry leaves then prick out in to individual 3 inch pots. Grow on until they are about 2 inches high and then harden off for a week before planting in their final spot.
Plants will grow to about 15 cm high and should be spaced 30 cm apart. They are neat attractive plants that make good edging for borders in an allotment or kitchen garden. They will take a little shade but also do well in full sun. Ensure you keep the plants well watered during the first year but after that they will look after themselves. You will probably not get any fruit in your first year but the following year in late spring onwards you should be rewarded by a steady stream of little berries.