Friday, 18 April 2014

The top 5 best-flavoured strawberries

My Top5
When it comes to growing strawberry plants, the number one criteria for most gardeners is usually that of flavour.
Any flavour chart is bound to be subjective and perhaps no more so than with strawberries where flavour ratings are so often controversial. I have carefully considered personal preference, official trial reports and customer commenst to compile this top 5 which I am confident will please anyone wishing to grow them.
The absence of any modern varieties is particularly depressing and proves, if further proof were needed, that the worlds breeding stations do not the home gardener interests at heart when highlighting criteria in their breeding lines, objectives and goals.
1] Royal Sovereign
A time honoured famous-name in English Strawberry growing history, it is perhaps no surprise that it is number one. Could there have been anything else at the top of the list? The torpedo shaped pale fruits are often quite pale in colour, not always hinting at the exquisiteness contained within….. but the flesh is tender, juicy, sweet and with the perfect balance of true strawberry flavour contained in every one. Alas such perfection is not mirrored in the plant which is quite simply a rotten grower. Vigorous and freely runnering, but the leaves will end up with all manner of spots, pustules, mildews and spotches if you do not fastidiously spray and the fruit is suscptable to botrytis too. If you like to grow organically then maybe the following should be swapped….
2] Norfolk Nectar
Was raised from Royal Sovereign but with the added genes of more modern varieties. Norfolk Nectar is a mid season variety that enjoys a very long harvest period – 4 weeks or more, despite not being a true perpetual variety. It’s flavour was inherited not only from Royal Sovereign, but also the esteemed ‘Aromel’ Moderately vigorous and easy to grow, the flavour is sensational and this is by far our biggest selling variety 10 years on.
3] Talisman
A late Summer season selection with dark husky leaves and growth, the moderately sized dark red glossy fruits ripen in early July. The flavour is summery, sweet and moderately firm. A favourite from a bygone era that remains very well worth growing and an ideal season extender for the maincrop strawberry period.
4] Aromel
Top pick from the perpetual Autumn fruiting group. Predominantly wedge shaped fruits with a lively salmon pink flesh, the berries have plenty of juice and a rich, slightly aromatic quality to the flavour. Fruits in August and then again until the frosts; remove the earlier flowers for a prolonged picking period deep into the Autumn.
5] Cambridge Vigour
It might surprise some to see a ‘Cambridge’ variety listed here, but there is much more to the series than the all-conquering Cambridge Favourite. For so long the poor cousin of the much better known Cambridge Favourite, this is a smaller, compact grower and much earlier with elongated deep ruby red fruits ripening the first half of June. Blessed with plenty of true strawberry flavour, it is always a pleasure sampling this variety. It is ideal for container work, forcing, growing under glass, and also succeeds well in frosty areas.
Some modern varieties that do have a good flavour: Pegasus [soft and sweet] Alice, Rhapsody, Mae, Rosie and Sweetheart.

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