Ooh, La, La: French Strawberries


800px-Barquettes_250g_de_Gariguette_Label_Rouge_litéesGariguette is probably my favourite strawberry ever. Long, conical and superbly flavoured, it reminds me (to look at, of course) of the strawberries Dougal used to eat in the Magic Roundabout, though frankly it clearly also inspired the local Brians too. My meagre haul was decimated by slugs.

It’s supposed to be a really weedy plant, but mine grew strongly. They do crop lightly but they taste so good that I instantly decided to grow them again. Thankfully they shot out dozens of runners, which created strong plantlets for this year, and the parent plants, now into their second season, look beefy and well formed. It’s only the beginning of April, yet new fruit are already forming.

Image: Pomona Fruits

I also liked Mara de Bois – a sort of oversized ‘wild strawberry’ – at first I thought it wasn’t that good, but it was only in comparison to Gariguette, and once my absolute fave was a distant memory, Mara de Bois proved to be pretty yummy and, as an everbearer, carried on fruiting for much longer than Gariguette.

I didn’t take runners – not least because it didn’t make many. I like this variety but on an allotment the size of mine, I won’t be growing more than a short row of six plants. It didn’t have as much vigour as Gariguette and that really isn’t saying much.

Image: Pomona Fruits

Finally Manille – a combination of the two. I liked this too, though it wasn’t even as vigorous as  Mara de Bois. It was sweeter than the other two and whilst I did enjoy it, it certainly wasn’t as populous as the picture to the right might imply. Again, I got very few runners, which I didn’t take because the plants seemed to be struggling to put on weight.

Strawberry cage
My strawberry cage, with three sides removed.

All three were in my small strawberry cage, one row of each. Each was given the same amount of rich, manure-heavy soil and the same mulching.

The parent plants are all in their second season; by far the strongest looking are the Gariguettes, though none are the sort you’d grow for yield, they’re all very light croppers.

I planted the new Gariguette plantlets made from runners into window boxes (April 3, 2016), which will run around ‘the Monster’ (the raised bed made from paving slabs and old rafters and so bloomin’ big it looks like the ruins of an Aztec temple) to try to disguise its sheer size…

UPDATE 17th June 2016

Gariguette 2016

Both the second-year plants and the babies from runners have grown strongly. The plants are upright and compact and, contrary to received opinion, heavy-cropping. The flavour is superb. I will be most definitely taking more runners this year and incorporating Gariguette into my strawberry rota.



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