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Grow 'Mignonette' Strawberries From Seed

5/25/2010 11:26:20 AM

Tags: Strawberries, Strawberry, Giveaway, Patsy Bell Hobson, Burpee, Richters, Renees Garden, Tips

PBHobson2Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it's a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at http://patsybell.com/ and read her travel writings at http://www.examiner.com/x-1948-Ozarks-Travel-Examiner. 

Wild strawberries and Alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are hardy, disease-resistant and perfect for a low border or edging plant. They are also a great groundcover. Some folks grow them in grass-free lawns.

5-25-10 Green and Ripe berries
You won't be able to find the sweet and fragile Alpine strawberries in grocery stores.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

I discovered some wild strawberries at my friend's lake house in Missouri. I was able to bring a few plants home. The wild strawberries loved living at my house and multiplied into a beautiful groundcover in my small flower bed. The love of my life thoughtfully cleaned up that flower bed one spring by ripping out all the weeds—which were my prized wild strawberries.

Since then, I’ve tried a couple of times to grow wild strawberries from seed and failed. When I had the opportunity to start new gardens at a new home I went a little overboard with these tiny berries.

I ordered the 'Mignonette' strawberry seeds, which are a French delicacy, from Renee’s Garden and had great success using the AeroGarden. The plants, once started, are easy to grow. They are compact perennial Alpine strawberry plants that produce sweet, pointed fruits from early spring to the last frost. I notice that Renee has an article about these itty bitty berries on her web page. This is where I got the idea to use these strawberries as an edging plant. It is not too late to start these plants from seed in May or June. (If you order from Renee's Garden, you will get prompt seed delivery!)

That same year, I bought a 'Ruegen' pack of 12 plants from Richter's. These sweet and tangy berries are just a little smaller in size than the 'Mignonette' growing on compact, runnerless plants, but they do multiply and should be thinned every few years. 'Ruegen' bears fruit from May until frost. Richter's has the best selection of culinary and medicinal herbs that I have found.

I think that those tasteless, monster-sized berries at the grocery store turned me away from normal strawberries. The tiny wild or Alpine berry tastes like strawberry candy in comparison.
The first year, it was a contest to see who would get to eat these mini delicacies: me or the birds. There are so many of them and the season is so long; now the birds and I have agreed to share the abundant harvest.

Red, green and flower
These little strawberry plants produce from spring until fall.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

My ‘Mara des Bois’ strawberries, which I bought from White Flower Farm, live in hanging baskets on the patio. Last summer I ate one or two berries and then a winged predator, or possibly my beloved, had the rest. There were not a lot of berries because the plants were busy trying to escape their confinement by sending runners over the edges of the hanging baskets. The berries are twice the size of the Alpine berries, although they are still a very small berry compared to what we find at the grocery. (The little ones fetch premium prices at some markets.) These hardy little plants overwintered in hanging basket while sitting on my patio all winter.

Fraises des bois is a French word for "strawberries of the woods." The strawberries are also known by other names including Fragaria vesca, Alpine strawberry, wild strawberry, Woodland strawberry, American strawberry, European strawberry and fraisier des bois. Remember that these itty bitty berries are too fragile for transport.

Two Ripe Red Berries
Strawberries will not ripen after picking. For the sweetest taste, pick ripe berries. 
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

The tiny berries are beautiful as a garnish on a dessert plate. It is said that tea made from the leaves will stimulate the appetite. They grow as an evergreen edging along the sidewalk in the potager, making for easy picking as I walk by.

5-25-10 Strawberry
Try adding balsamic vinegar and strawberries to your next salad.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

This strawberry seed is easy to find. I bought my seeds at Renee's GardenBurpee and Richter's catalogs. Several other companies sell the wild strawberry seed. But if you don't want to find them on your own, enter my garden giveaway!

Seed Packet Giveaway!

I'm excited to announce another giveaway: Renee is giving away 'Mignonette' strawberry seed packets to three lucky Herb Companion readers.

5-26-2010-1

• Post a comment below: Tell me how you would like to enjoy your 'Mignonette' strawberry seeds if you were to win? What wonderful dishes would you prepare? Courtesy Renee's Garden.

End date: June 6, 2010 (12:00 AM, Central Time) UPDATE: Time's up!

And the winners are...

6-14-2010-1
Patricia Meeks in Chehalis, Washington

6-14-2010-2
Dianne Aikey in Mulberry, Florida

6-14-2010-3
Karyl Fulkerson in Livermore, California

Winners were chosen using www.random.org. Thanks to everyone who entered my Garden Giveaway! Watch out for even more giveaways.



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