Strawberries are extremely easy to grow, and even just a few plants can provide a plentiful supply of sweet succulent fruits through the summer months. If chosen carefully, varieties such as the early ‘Elvira’, ‘Cambridge Favourite’ or ‘Florence’- will provide plenty of fruit from June through to September.
Some will even repeat fruit, these are known as ‘perpetual’ forms’ and are likely to be more closely related to the wild strawberry that can be found in many gardens and parks across the UK. Even though wild strawberries are often smaller than planted varieties, they are packed full of flavour and are a firm favourite for keen bakers and jam-makers.
Strawberries grow well in all types of containers, whether specially designed strawberry pots, grow bags, hanging baskets, troughs and tubs or even something more creative and adaptable, such as galvanised guttering. Healthy productive strawberry plants are sadly difficult to achieve in a traditional strawberry pot as they prefer room to grow and fruit. They do tolerate shade, but will thrive in sunshine, and prefer a slightly acidic soil.
Kate Nicoll, National Trust Gardens Training Specialist, commented, “Strawberries are probably the perfect picnic food to enjoy in the summer as they are in their prime and are full of flavour. Many creatures love them just as much as we do, so keep them covered with netting and put a jam jar with a little beer in it nearby, to lure away any prowling slugs and snails.”
• If growing strawberries in open ground, protect the fruit from damp by spreading straw underneath the plants. This will also maintain moisture in the soil and aid ripening.
• Allow any ‘runners’ to root either in pots or in the soil to replace older plants. A strawberry bed tends to deteriorate after three years, so fresh plants need to be grown on a new patch to prevent depletion.
• Container grown strawberries will need feeding as they begin to flower, use a high potash liquid feed as you water (seaweed liquid is ideal).
SUMMER BERRY RIPPED PANNA COTTA RECIPE
With a delicate hint of vanilla and a fresh and vibrant fruity topping, this is the perfect chilled dessert for summer.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes
For the panna cotta
250ml double cream 250ml milk 3 sheets gelatine 75g caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the compote
350g fresh mixed berries 100g caster sugar 50ml water
1. For the compote, place the berries, sugar and water into a pan over a low heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
2. Continue to simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, the berries start to soften slightly and release some juice.
3. Place to one side to cool.
4. For the panna cotta, place the gelatine sheets in enough water to cover and leave to soak.
5. Warm the cream, milk, vanilla and sugar in a pan over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
6. Strain the liquid from the gelatine and squeeze to remove any excess.
7. Stir the gelatine into the warm cream mix until its fully dissolved.
8. Pour the mix into ramekins or pudding basins.
9. Using a teaspoon, take some of the juice from the compote and gently drizzle into the panna cotta to achieve the ripple.
10. Place into the fridge to set before turning out onto your serving plate and garnishing with the homemade compote.
For more delicious recipes go to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/recipes