Looking for great strawberry flavor? The best gourmet berry apparently comes in the smallest package. Almost impossible to find in stores, growing your own will reward your taste buds.

Alpine Strawberries- what’s the difference?

alpine berries
Most of us are familiar with the garden variety strawberry. It is beautiful, delicious, and fruits abundantly, usually in June. But there is a delightful type of strawberry that is arguably more sweet, flavorful, and easier to grow. That is the alpine strawberry.

(hint: that is the alpine strawberry on the left… those tiny, ruby colored, aromatic jewels of fruit)

This is my page of introduction, if you have not yet met this member of the strawberry family.

Other Names For Woodland Strawberries

  • wild strawberry
  • woodland strawberry
  • fraises des bois
  • forest strawberry

frais des bois

Get To Know This Miniature Red Fruit

These little gems are a gourmet treat

Alpine strawberries are also known by the name “Fraises du Bois”, which is French and means “strawberries of the forests”. They are tiny, but deliciously aromatic, far outsized in flavor compared to their little size, as if they arrived in a thimble sized container from a fairy world blessed with an extra soupçon of tastiness. A separate species from the common garden strawberry, (Fragaria x ananassa), their Latin name is Fragaria vesca.

One reason to plant them is their growing habits. Alpines grow in little mounds and do not have the spreading runners of garden strawberries. That makes them well mannered inhabitants of borders and edgings. They also produce fruit throughout the growing season.

They grow 10″ high with a spread of 10-18″, the three leaves on a stalk are bright green and toothed, the typical strawberry flowers are white, and the berries are conical in shape.

These delightful little strawberries are so well loved that they come in a number of named cultivars including ‘Alexandra‘ and ‘Mignonette‘, and you can find some that are yellow or white (to discourage birds from eating them).

A FINE VARIETY FROM A REPUTABLE SOURCE.

The hybrid ‘Mara Des Bois‘, which although not an alpine strawberry, carries its qualities of flavor, aroma, and everbearing qualities. It does throw out runners, and the berries are twice the size of the little alpines. It would be a good alternative for those who want something between the wild strawberry and the commercial type.

  • Mini Strawberries
    what does a handful of these fruits look like?
Mini Strawberries

Wild or Cultivated Types?

The ones that fit your growing plans, culinary tastes, and climate are the best to grow.

Alpine strawberries prefer to germinate in cool, dark environments.

Best Gourmet Variety

Mara Des Bois French Everbearing Strawberry 10 Plants - BEST FLAVOR! - Bare Root
Mara Des Bois French Everbearing Strawberry 10 Plants – BEST FLAVOR! – Bare Root

How To Grow Alpine Strawberry Seeds

Are they difficult to grow?

3 kinds of alpine strawberries
Source: Allposters

Use Grow Light System For Starting Seeds

Growing From Seed

It is a little more complicated to grow these than some other types of seeds, but not hard.

Here is what you do, follow these steps for good success:

Make them a part of your Kitchen Garden
red fruits

  1. Buy your seeds
  2. Refrigerate them to improve germination,1 month before sowing
  3. Germinate by moistening paper towel, place seeds inside, and put all inside a plastic baggie; seal.If you don’t germinate this way, alpine strawberries prefer to germinate in cool, dark environments.
  4. Don’t cover seeds with soil, just let them stay on the surface (if you don’t want to use pre-planting germination method).
  5. Once seeds have germinated, pick off and plant in potting soil. (you can use a small dibble or even a toothpick to “pick off”). Recycled deli boxes made of plastic make great little planters.
  6. Be sure to keep seedlings moist until well rooted.

Mignonette

Strawberry, Alpine, Mignonette
Strawberry, Alpine, Mignonette

This heirloom is the type I’ve grown. It produces tiny sweet berries and keeps its place in the garden. Don’t let other things crowd it out.

Growing Alpine Strawberries From Seed

Seedling Starter Trays, 144 Cells: (24 Trays; 6-cells Per Tray), Plus 5 Plant Labels by Industry Standard Grower's Supply
Seedling Starter Trays, 144 Cells: (24 Trays; 6-cells Per Tray), Plus 5 Plant Labels by Industry Standard Grower’s Supply

Wild Strawberries experiment (Entire view)

Lovely Little Alpine Mignonette – (Which means sweet little thing)

Strawberry Alpine Mignonette Great Heirloom Vegetable 40 Seeds
Strawberry Alpine Mignonette Great Heirloom Vegetable 40 Seeds
This photo gives you a good indication of what the berries look like. I never had this many strawberries on mine,but perhaps under ideal conditions?

How Easy Are They?

What do I have to do to grow them?

The simplest, but least economical way is to buy plants, but it isn’t hard to find the seeds and plant them. You will have many more plants for your garden that way.

With just a little know-how you can grow many of your own berries to eat fresh in season and to preserve. Learn from an expert and pave the way to success with your growing efforts, cut your food bill, and know where and how the food was grown, by doing it yourself.

These plants like:

  • slightly acid soils (pH 6-6.5)
  • regular average moisture
  • well drained soils
  • organic matter (humus)
  • sheltered spot in sun or part sun
  • hardy to zone 4
  • need division every few years

How should I divide the plants?

Every three to four years lift the plants and divide into smaller sections, replant the newer parts and get rid of the older,woody center. In the northern states of the US, the best time of year to do this is in the March-April months.

Hardiness

Although very hardy, if you grow them in pots they need to be moved into a frost-free area. They also can use winter mulching to prevent the frost from heaving them from the ground during thaws.

  1. Keep new seedlings covered so they stay moist-give them time to develop a little root system before you uncover them.
  2. Be sure to allow plenty of growing space for underground stolons. At least 10 inches apart, maybe more. Try using a half barrel as a container.
  3. Keep plants mulched with straw. Don’t use leaves, or they may bet smothered.
The fruits are about the size of your fingertip

— Size of the Stawberries

light yellow ripened color fools and deters birds.

light yellow ripened color fools and deters birds.

Grow Them Here

In prepared ground, like your vegetable garden, or potager, in containers, or along a path. There are many places to tuck them in if you have rich organic soil ready for them.

Renovating ‘Alexandria’ Plants

A Beautiful Strawberry Pot – plenty of room and easy to pick

Plan to have several pots on your patio- they are pretty and will provide plenty of room for all your berry plants.

Large Strawberry Jar - Curry
Large Strawberry Jar – Curry

Growing your woodland strawberry plants inside a pot made especially for them offers several benefits. One is the fact that your berries are clean and easy to find, up from those pesky slugs and varmints which like to take bites from your special efforts to grow these luscious little fruits.

Excellent Organic Potting Soil – For Strawberry Pots

FoxFarm FX14054 12-Quart FoxFarm Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil
FoxFarm FX14054 12-Quart FoxFarm Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil

Good potting soil for filling your new strawberry pots. Don’t use garden soil because it compacts and doesn’t give the roots the ideal condition they need in containers. An organic mix will have more available nutrients and is what you want for growing healthy fruit.

Double Duty Planters – Collect rainwater

Whatever type of planter you like best, terra cotta, stone resin, they can be found at Amazon.com

Terra Cotta Tuscana Strawberry Pot Rain Barrel
Terra Cotta Tuscana Strawberry Pot Rain Barrel

How convenient this rain barrel would prove, perfectly situated outside the back door to grab a nibble of fruit. This is one of the most decorative pots and I love the idea of combining purposes.

Organic Fertilizer – Food crops benefit, you benefit

I know the nutrient numbers are low, but there is something about seaweed that I always found boosted my plants.

Why Grow Organic?

Besides the nutrient and health assets, organic growing greatly benefits certain types of plants which need more humus in the soil. Woodland plants are used to the detritus from trees building up a thick layer of moisture retentive soil called “humus”.

Alpine strawberries will grow best if given a rich, fertile soil created through the organic additions of nutrients: leaf mold, straw mulch, seaweed, and formulated organic based fertilizers.

Such soils are teeming with beneficial organisms, filled with nutrients that then make the fruits, retain ground moisture cooling the roots. Healthier plants resist disease and pests better, too.

Espoma Organic Traditions Kelp Meal 1-0-2 - 4 lb Bag KM4
Espoma Organic Traditions Kelp Meal 1-0-2 – 4 lb Bag KM4

Kelp Meal is brown seaweed harvested from the cold, nutrient-rich waters of the north Atlantic Ocean. It is used on many fruits and vegetables to give added nutrients and boost growth in a natural way.

Gro-Light Setup – for expert results

If you decide to become serious about starting your seeds indoors, of any variety, then invest in some quality equipment. The success rate and health of your new seedlings increases with such equipment, i.e. plant lights, heat pads, timers,etc.

Jump Start JSV4 4-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System
Jump Start JSV4 4-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System

You can grow tomato, strawberry, perennial flower plants, almost anything with success. Give your seedlings a good start with plenty of light and the right conditions.

Getting Plants

Fragaria vesca

botanical illustration Fragaria vesca

In case you don’t want to go through the trouble of growing by seed, and just want to start with plants, the time to buy is March-April-May-June. After that just get the picture or posters of them (until next year!)

A gourmet treat,alpines have a complexity of flavor and texture. The fruits are intensely, delightfully fragrant.

A Sweet Taste Test

alpine strawberries
Source: B. Monginoux / Landscape-Photo.net with cc license

Garden Links – Growing Information

A bed of protecting straw

A bed of protecting straw