Thursday, 9 October 2014

Strawberry varieties for early forcing

You can easily extend and bring forward your strawberry season by utlizing early varieties that can be tempted into ripening earlier with some cover. This can be easily achieved by lifting plants from outside early in the spring, potting them and bringing them into a gently heathed greenhouse of conservatory. Alternatively you can plant fresh plants specifically for the purpose the Autumn before. You can also place cloches over outdoor plants, from March, even this simple method can bring the harvest date forward by 2 weeks or more.
Not all varieties force well; here are the 5 best varieties I recommend for the purpose of extra early fruits.
Cambridge Vigour A compact dark leaved plant with moderately sized deep red berries, very flavourful.
Elvira A taller pale leaved plant, medium to large pale vermillion orange sweet berries.
Emily Super-early and has the potential to give the earliest berries of all. The fruits are very dark and robustly flavoured.
Rosie A favourite with professional growers, and one which forces well and has a beautiful flavour.
Seascape A day neutral variety which can be programmed to fruit at any time of the year; fresh plants set in a gently heated greenhouse in early January can be in fruit by March.
Plants used for forcing may be good for only one year. Use a good hearty compost and make sure the plants are fed regularly with Seaweed Maxicrop at fortnightly intervals. Provide ventilation on warmer days and watch out for mildew which can appear in a closed environment.

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