‘The North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) is a network of individuals throughout the United States and Canada devoted to the discovery, cultivation and appreciation of superior varieties of fruits and nuts.’ NAFEX has been around for over 40 years and is a great organization for any fruit or nut grower. The membership fees are small and I recommend joining for a year and seeing if you like it. There are an array of membership benefits, one being access to the quarterly NAFEX publication, Pomona.
The summer issue of pomona was just released and it is full of juicy articles on honeyberry, cider making, and much more. In fact, they featured an article by me on Alpine strawberries. Since only members have access to the full publication, I have copied the Alpine strawberry article below. To dig into the rest of the summer Pomona issue, join NAFEX today!
Alpine Strawberries – the Short and Sweet
The Fruit Nut | http://www.thefruitnut.com
Fragaria vesca, or alpine strawberry, has been a species of interest to me for the past several years. One reason is their delicious flavor. Another is the intoxicating aroma that you won’t find in regular garden strawberries. Their ever-bearing habit and tendency to clump and not spread by runners is also noteworthy.
After testing numerous varieties, I’ve grown to prefer the yellow or white-fruited types. The past three seasons ‘White Soul’ and ‘Yellow Wonder’ have been particularly fruitful and of the highest quality for eating out of hand. The berry size is considerably larger than some of the red types. Whether or not the birds recognize the white and yellow fruits as being ripe is questionable, but an interesting idea nonetheless. Out of the red-fruited types ‘Migonette’, ‘Deesse de Vallees’, and ‘Red Wonder’ have proven to be productive and high in flavor.
Although alpine strawberries may not be a substantial fruit crop, they are definitely worthy of cultivation on a home scale. They provide a continual snack from early summer through fall and are relished by children. Out of the many visitors to my garden I’ve yet to hear one negative review. Some have said they taste a pineapple flavor, or ‘the sweetness of honey.’ In the edible landscape they merit special attention as a plant for borders and in the understory of larger shrubs as they tolerate partial shade and still fruit well. I’ve expanded my plantings this year and incorporated new varieties like ‘Holiday’, ‘Pineapple Crush’, and ‘Ali Baba’ to name a few. To learn more and buy plants, visit www.thestrawberrystore.com.