Like many fellow Brits, Rich loves adding a healthy dose of strawberries to a bowl of double cream, and obsessively grows his own. Nick, however, has tired of the nation’s favourite fruit and is growing the diminutive Alpine strawberry instead. But which is best? Here the Two Thirsty Gardeners state their cases…
Nick on alpine strawberries
Every year Rich embarks on the same strawberry charade: carefully selecting the finest suckers from old plants to nurture in his thoroughly prepared strawberry bed; untangling himself from netting as he tries to shield them from avian swindlers; and diligently watering during every passing patch of blue sky. Then when summer arrives and the berries’ pasty white skin turns to bright red, they’re demolished by slugs, mice and voles. Even the few unblemished survivors get pounced upon by his kids. The ensuing rage is enough to redden his own pasty white complexion…
I’ve never quite understood Rich and the Great British majority’s obsession with strawberries. I don’t dislike them, but they’re far from my favourite fruit. So last year, I abandoned my own neglected strawberry patch and grew Alpine strawberries instead.
These little beauties germinated easily from seed, quickly establishing in their space-saving home beneath the currant bushes. They don’t seem to mind if I forget to water them. They don’t send off ugly suckers in all directions. And, even better, they’ve barely been bothered by pests. I know they’re small in comparison to their plump, watery cousins, but no-one complains about the size of a currant compared to a plum. And what they lack in size, they more than make up in flavour – more intense than traditional strawberries and, dare I say, a whole lot fruitier.
Big, fat strawberries are available all year round and can be found everywhere (except in Rich’s strawberry bed), making them a much less special crop than they used to be. Grow Alpine strawberries instead and get yourself a genuine treat.
Rich on garden strawberries
Nick, is this article some kind of a joke? It’s lovely that you’ve finally found use for your new macro lens, but alpine strawberries? Really?
There can be no comparison, and comparing the tasteless supermarket varieties to my superior homegrown beauties is both misguided and insulting. Nothing can beat the taste of a homegrown garden strawberry. NOTHING!
The cultivation of ‘fragaria ananassa’ is a test of skill and patience, where careful netting and nurturing will outwit the mouse, foil the slug and thwart the blackbird. “Night-night, juicy princes, sleep well” I whisper, tucking them into their warm straw duvet, knowing that the following day I’ll be plucking them from their sleep, smothering them in cream and stuffing them into my greedy gob.
Granted, some strawberries are sacrificed to allotment mice to appease the rodent gods, but I’m willing to let a few juicy specimens fall by the wayside for the greater good. Besides, there’s a reason why alpine strawberries survive unmolested by pests… they are too puny to bother about.
Nick, an alpine strawberry is nothing more than a weed; to be plucked and discarded – just like your argument.
(Note to Nick: I couldn’t get a picture of my strawberries… looks like a mouse breached my netting defences and scoffed the lot. Will an old picture do? Cheers, Rich)
Who is right? Is the garden strawberry the pinnacle of fruit perfection or do you go wild for the Alpine strawberry? Let us know…