I'm always looking for space-saving ideas in the suburban veg plot. It's not the largest of growing areas - 8 square metres of raised beds, a rhubarb patch and one or two small spots beneath trellis panels - so I try hard to pack a lot into it. So when I came across climbing strawberry plants, I thought I'd just have to give them a try. I've grown 'Cambridge Favourite' in grow-bags for the last few years but these went into the compost at the end of 2012 as they'd started to tail off in terms of production.
Strawberry 'Mount Everest' is available from a number of the bigger online/mail order seed and plant companies and is described as producing runners upto a metre long that can be trained up a trellis or other climbing support. They produce mid-sized fruit from mid June through to September and can also be planted as trailing plants in window boxes or hanging baskets.
They didn't come cheap (£12.99 for 12 runners) but the plants certainly look vigorous with a healthy bare root system. Once unwrapped, I did find a bonus 13th runner in the box as well. The runners were placed in a bucket of damp compost for a couple of days until I was ready to plant them out. I've decided to reuse my pea teepees from last year to train them up as they're in a nice sunny spot by the greenhouse. The teepees proved to be surprisingly strong and have weathered well through the winter. I replaced some of the twine fastened around them and they're good as new.
So, 13 planting holes later, each of the runners are now situated at the bottom of a nice rough vertical stake to climb up (coincidently enough a strawberry tree pruning) and awaiting the warmer weather.
I can probably use the space beneath the teepee for salad leaves and radishes as they'll mature quickly before the strawberries grow and block out the light. And aside from the space saving aspect, I'm also hoping that unless the local slug population are kitted out with crampons and climbing ropes, then this may prove to keep more of my fruit safe from the hordes of marauding molluscs!