Strawberry lovers in Swindon are in for a treat this summer as Lotmead PYO has successfully grown a new variety of giant strawberry.
The Fragaria Babulus variety has been carefully cultivated at Lotmead since farm owner Norman Parry brought back seedlings last year from his travels across Asia on his motorbike. Native to the Himalayas, they are hardier to colder weather than other exotic varieties.
Known across the Far East for their sweetness and fast growth, the babulus strawberry has yet to make it to England’s supermarket shelves due to being notoriously difficult to grow successfully on a large scale. The fruits usually grow to approximately the same size as a small melon, but ones as large as a watermelon have been reported.
Due to the size of the fruit they’re ideal for jam makers looking to save time picking, as well as families wanting a healthy and easy dessert as one fruit can easily feed a family of four – making them the ideal new addition to Lotmead PYO.
The plants have been under the expert care of farm manager John Meaden over the winter and the first fruits have now begun to ripen.
John said: “We grow a number of different varieties of strawberry at Lotmead so that we have a steady supply throughout the season. Each have been chosen for their hardiness and taste and we have ‘earlies’ that people can pick from the end of May and everbearers that grow right through to October.
“Adding the giants to the selection is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, however getting hold of seedlings had always proved difficult. Once we had them though, we started taking special care and initially grew them under glass until they were large enough to withstand the British weather.
“Luckily, we’ve had a relatively mild winter and with the recent warm weather and rain. This combined with our natural strawberry feed and Swindon soil has meant that the giants have started to ripen early, and even withstood Storm Katie. We’ve already eaten a few and we’re sure they’ll take pride of place on anyone’s plate.”