There are numerous varieties, and every year they are created again, hybrids or cultivars, selecting the plants that produce sweeter and more fragrant fruits, with more fructifications per year or even with flowers of particular color.
The botanical species of fragaria are deciduous, and dry up completely with the arrival of the frost, to sprout again the following spring.
In April-May, they produce small white star-shaped flowers, followed by the typical infructescences, which are called strawberries; it is a thin fleshy stem, of white or pink colour, which supports several rigid achenes, the typical seeds.
The fruiting usually lasts throughout the spring, and stops at the arrival of the summer heat.
Garden cultivars and hybrids generally contain some particularly interesting characteristics; certainly the main dowry is the size of the fruit, which is much larger than that of wild strawberries, even if the latter maintain the primacy in the perfume and sweetness of the pulp.
Some cultivars produce their fruits in early spring and continue until July; others produce further blooms in September, when the climate becomes mild again.
Among the strawberry plants there are also hybrids with pink or red flowers, very decorative even in an aiola.
The cultivation of these perennials is not difficult, and in the right conditions they tend to become weeds; in fact, strawberry plants are stoloniferous perennials: from the collar of the plants that have been planted for a long time thin creeping stems, the stolons, branch off and move slightly away from the mother plant to root and produce new plants. In the space of a few years, a few small strawberry plants can fill all the space they have available, overcrowding the plot.
For this reason, we often tend to transplant periodically, both the “old” and the new plants, thinning them out, so as to allow each plant to enjoy a certain amount of open ground.
They prefer bright locations, possibly sheltered from direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day, so that the soil remains fairly cool, and not completely dry. The plants can very well withstand drought, but usually tend, in conditions of water shortage, not to bloom or even lose part of the foliage.
So if we want juicy strawberries it is good that we prepare to water the plants regularly, especially if the climate does not help us.
Let’s place the plants in a good soil rich in organic matter, not particularly calcareous, and in any case fresh and deep, quite well drained.
When the climate becomes hot, we can stop watering the plants, which will stop flowering, and enter a period of semi-rest period; if the drought is intense let’s start watering the plants again towards autumn. In areas with a very hot spring climate, watering should be particularly regular and abundant.
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Strawberries in the shade
The plot of strawberries in the garden must be of the right size, so that the plants can be planted with at least 20-25 cm of space from each other.
If we keep our plants spaced we have the possibility to control any weeds that may develop between them, “stealing” water and nutrition.
Often, they are placed on the mulching cloth; they prepare the soil, work it thoroughly, cover it with the mulching cloth and then make holes in the cloth, where the small plants are placed; this type of cultivation allows to check frequently the fruits, which will develop far away from the ground, and therefore, they will hardly be able to go against rotting or, equally, they will be unlikely to be ruined by moulds or small insects.
This type of cultivation needs to be placed in place at least every 2-3 years, because the plants tend to expand, to produce stolons longer if they do not find ground where to root because of the mulching cloth, clear that this type of setup, makes it very quick and practical to thin the plants, and helps us to keep the aiola completely clean of pests.
As they are cover plants, we can instead decide to grow them directly in the aiola, without mulching cloth, over time they will tend to produce a carpet of leaves.
If we have decided to plant wild strawberries, the natural carpet created by them will guarantee us the right humidity and the right shade to allow the best development of plants and fruits.
If, on the other hand, we have planted large strawberries, over time the overcrowding of the aiola will lead to smaller and smaller fruits of lower quality, forcing us to periodically grub up excess plants.
Strawberries – Fragaria sspp.: In the sun and shade
Strawberries in nature are fruits of the undergrowth; small fragrant strawberries grow in the shade of tall trees, where the soil, rich in decomposed material, is always moist and fresh.
If we decide to plant these strawberries, we should choose a piece of land in the shade, not too dark, but far from the direct rays of the warm sun.
If, on the contrary, we decide to cultivate the big hybrid strawberries, the quantity of light to which to expose them depends on the species and on the variety: there are cultivars which love the full sun, even in summer, whilst others which need half shade. In general, vegetable strawberries tend to like the sun much more than wild strawberries.
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