Article and photo by Donna Iverson
The trend in gardening for decades has favored hybrid plants and vegetables that are bigger, brighter, and more easily transportable. The price for this enhancement is that these hybrids have often lost their flavor and aroma. For example, numerous giant rose varieties have no scent and winter hothouse tomatoes ...no flavor.
As a contrarian, my preference has always been for the smaller, taster, and more fragrant native plants.
So when it comes to strawberries, it’s the wild strawberry that I seek out. Like all native wild plants, it is sweeter and more nutritious. It is also low maintenance requiring less water than cultivated strawberries. In addition, it deters weeds.
Best of all, the taste is superb: pop a miniature red berry into your mouth and savor its strong strawberry sweet tartness.
If you are lucky, you may find wild strawberries growing like a weed near where you live. If not, you can purchase wild strawberries ( Fragaria Vesca), often called alpine strawberries, at local nurseries. It is possible to grow them from seed but not easy. Seeds can be purchased from a few catalog companies like prairiemoon.com
Wild strawberries are a cool season crop producing berries in early summer, from April through June. A local patch near me hasn’t gotten the message about hot weather, and is producing handfuls of berries during July,
Wild strawberries might make a wonderful addition to your yard, perhaps as a ground cover or as edging. It also does well in hanging basket and the transitional strawberry pot on your deck or back step,
To propagate wild strawberry, clip a runner from an existing plant and transfer it to your garden, watering well until it is established. Once it has taken hold, it will likely need watering during hot dry spells like we are having here in West Michigan.
One of the delights of wild strawberries, is that you pretty much have to eat it as soon as you pick it. It doesn’t keep in the refrigerator. Although a friend says she freezes wild strawberries and makes wild strawberry jam.
And for you foragers out there, wild strawberry is one of the sweetest most delectable fruits you will ever come across