When to Plant Alpine Strawberry Seeds

Alpine strawberries (frais du bois) are tiny, intensely flavorful strawberries that bear all summer. They do not send out runners, and so make tidier, easier-to-manage beds. Because they have no runners, alpine strawberry seeds (technically, they are achenes, but are most commonly called seeds) are the only way to propagate new plantings. The seeds are very tiny, and germination requires care.

Direct Seeding

It is possible to seed alpine strawberries directly into the garden soil in a sunny area. They require soil temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so wait until the soil has heated up to within that range before you plant. Prepare the soil carefully, breaking up any clods and removing twigs and pebbles. Mix the seeds with fine sand, and mix them thoroughly, and sprinkle them across the surface of the soil. Firm the seeds gently into the soil with your hand, but don't cover them over with soil. Although exposure to sunlight is not absolutely necessary for germination, it is helpful. Water the area thoroughly, using a mist or very fine spray from a hose or watering can fitted with a misting rosette. It is imperative that the seeds remain moist: If they dry out for even two hours, it can impede or prevent germination.

Cover the area with plastic wrap, plastic sheeting or a removable cold frame to trap the moisture in the soil. Check the seeds daily, removing the cover, to allow air circulation and prevent damping off.

The seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days. Remove the plastic. Thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart. Water the seedlings as they grow, supplementing rain when there is less than 2 inches per week.

Starting Seeds Indoors

Seeding alpine strawberries indoors is easier and more likely to be successful than direct seeding. To have sturdy healthy seedlings ready to transplant, start the seeds eight weeks before the last frost date. Sprinkle the seeds over a seeding flat filled with moistened seed starting mix, and cover the flat with plastic or a plastic lid. Put the covered flat under grow lights or in a sunny area. Placing the flat over a grow mat set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit will help speed germination. Remove the lid or plastic once a day to allow air circulation.

When the seedlings have produced their first true leaves, pot them on into 2-inch pots filled with a good potting soil. Keep the seedlings watered and in a sunny area or under lights as they grow. They are ready to be hardened off and transplanted into the garden when they have formed a rosette-like circle of leaves. However, they will shock and grow slowly if soil temperatures are at least 60 degrees.

Make sure your strawberry garden is protected by a chain link fence.


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