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April 8, 2011

Grow Your Own Climbing Strawberries, Indoors or Out

by Val Reynolds

Climbing Strawberry Mount Everest © Thompson & Morgan

Climbing strawberries with a fruiting period from June to September, now there’s a thing!

We haven’t been growing strawberries for some years but the Thompson and Morgan website gives enough information to help you grow the Mount Everest climbing strawberries in pots, or in hanging baskets, or containers on the patio.

We have six plants to plant out and in view of our experience with birds, mice and men! we have decided to experiment. Two have been given to a friend who will probably grow them in a polytunnel. Lucky chap, wish we had the room. Another to my hairdresser who has always wanted to grow strawberries indoors.

We will grow the remaining three up bamboo wigwams, one in a large pot on the patio and two indoors in large pots. If they are as fruitful as the paperwork says we will be strawberried out by September! Or, as I hope there will be so much fruit I’ll be able to make jam.

The best jam I ever made was called freezer jam. Much simpler than conventional jam making, although it produces a soft rather than a very firm set. There are easy instructions on the Certo recipes webpage. The ‘jam’ is so tasty and delicious on ice cream, cereal, and in cakes. The same website gives a good range of recipes to choose from.  We always make sure there is always some Certo in the cupboard year round. So this year it’ll be delicious freezer strawberry jam and maybe even ice cream made from unsprayed homegrown fruit!

The plants we are using are Mount Everest from Thompson & Morgan.  See their website for up to date prices.

We have found another strawberry variety that cascades downwards. Have a look at ‘Rambling Cascade’ Climbing  Strawberry, a variety that produces long runners (up to 5-6ft  long) which can be trained to trellis, canes or around a stout pole. The flavour of this variety is quite exceptional and surpasses the taste or any bred ‘for long shelf life’ commercially grown strawberry.

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Rambling Cascade Hanging Basket

We have ordered the kit to make up a Rambling Cascade Hanging Basket complete with 13 plants, compost and basket costs £25.95. High hopes for an interesting experience! The only possible problem will be the watering – how to cope with the puddle that will appear – have a bucket ready? May well have to take the basket down and soak it in a bucket. We shall see! One thing is for sure, we will use one of our Hi-Lo devices to lower it safely – wouldn’t be without these. Anyone who gets weary with lifting heavy watering cans, getting water up their arms, puddles of water on the ground, our feeling is they would welcome a HiLo device. It allows you to lower the basket to a workable level for pruning, deadheading and watering. Then pulled up – carefully – to the height you want it. It really has made a huge difference to our basket handling and can’t praise it enough. An essential item for any dedicated hanging basket fan. Suitable for 10inch, 12inch or 14inch hanging baskets weighing up to 20lbs. We bought ours from Dobies who have a buy three get one free offer.

Our 2014 strawberry growing was not a huge success. Here in Cumbria we have a shorter growing season than further south. So in 2015 we have decided to grow our strawberries in the glazed entry hall to offset the lower temperatures outside.

T&M Flamenco Ever bearing strawberry

The Flamenco everbearing strawberry plants we grew last year had wonderful fruit which the mice and slugs relished, so they will also be grown in the glazed hall where last year tomatoes grew well in bags and in 2015 our tomatoes will be in the conservatory.

Why not come and visit us? We have converted our 1700’s old stone built coach house into a self contained warm and cosy cottage for holiday lets, short and long, any time of year. Here is a link – you will see the kitchen garden where we grow many different companion plants and insect attractive flowers to maximise our fruit and veg. Do come! We love talking gardening!

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

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