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It is generally accepted that it is extremely difficult to grow a berry such as a strawberry on your own: this requires suitable conditions, good care, fertilizers, frequent watering and much more. But most importantly, most of the Russian gardeners consider the climate of their region unsuitable for growing sweet berries. To date, breeders have bred dozens of varieties that are unpretentious to weather conditions, soil composition and do not require much attention from the gardener. One of these species is the Elephant calf variety. This strawberry is a great option for novice summer residents, as well as for those who live in cold regions.
A detailed description of the elephant strawberry variety, photos and reviews about it can be found in this article. Here we will talk about the advantages of persistent strawberries, some of its disadvantages and how to properly grow the Elephant variety in a temperate climate.
Characteristics of a large-fruited species
Strawberry variety Elephant calf is relatively young - it was bred at the end of the last century. Scientists from the Siberian Research Institute were engaged in breeding a new species, so it is not surprising that the main advantage of the Elephant variety is considered to be its strong frost resistance.
Attention! The Elephant Strawberry is not a remontant; the harvest of this berry is formed only once a season.
Full description of the Elephant variety:
- berry ripening time - medium;
- bushes are powerful, well branched, erect;
- the formation of a mustache is active, the shoots are painted in a pale pink shade;
- you can propagate the Elephant variety by seeds, whiskers, dividing the bush;
- the leaves on the bushes are painted in a rich green hue, have a slightly concave shape and are covered with a silvery bloom;
- the edge of the sheet is serrated;
- inflorescences are painted in white or cream shade, flowers are medium-sized, bisexual (that is, the Elephant does not need pollinators);
- peduncles of medium size, spreading, multi-flowered;
- strawberry berries Elephant calf are large, the average weight is 20-28 grams;
- the fruit does not have a neck, its shape resembles an egg, in the lower part of the strawberry is often forked;
- the outside of the strawberry is bright red, the flesh of the berry is also scarlet, dense, the surface is glossy;
- the elephant's taste is characterized as sweet with a slight sourness;
- the aroma of the berries is very rich, well-pronounced "strawberry";
- the strawberries of this variety have a perfectly balanced content of sugars, acids and vitamin C;
- the tasting score of the Slonenok fruit is 4.7 points;
- strawberry yield is high - about 200 grams per bush or 0.8 kg per square meter (on an industrial scale - up to 90 centners per hectare of fields);
- the first berries are larger (up to 40 grams) and leveled, subsequent harvests give a smaller yield, such strawberries can have any shape;
- the variety is considered unpretentious and persistent;
- the frost resistance of the Elephant is very good (strawberries overwinter without shelter even in the central regions of Russia and in some northern regions);
- in conditions of high humidity, bushes and berries can be affected by gray rot;
- strawberries are unpretentious to agricultural technology, but they can “thank” for poor care with small and sour berries;
- The purpose of the variety is universal: The baby elephant is also good fresh (since it is considered a dessert variety), the berry is suitable for preservation, making preserves, jams and marmalade, it tolerates freezing well.
Important! The Elephant variety is recommended for cultivation in Western and Eastern Siberia, which testifies to the extraordinary resistance of this strawberry to cold weather.
Among other things, the elephant's strawberry perfectly tolerates drought, so it can be safely planted not only in Siberia, but also in the more southern and hot regions of the country.
Advantages and disadvantages
If breeders were able to develop the perfect variety, there would be no more new strawberry varieties. The baby elephant, like other varieties of sweet berries, has both strengths and weaknesses.
The advantages of this strawberry include:
- large and beautiful berries;
- excellent aroma and pleasant taste of the fruit;
- very good frost resistance;
- the ability to grow in arid and cold regions;
- high productivity.
The Siberian variety also has some disadvantages, among them:
- high risk of rotting strawberries in high humidity conditions;
- strong dependence of the quality of berries on the amount of fertilizers and irrigation;
- firm, not too juicy pulp.
Despite the listed disadvantages, the variety is quite popular not only among private gardeners and summer residents, Elephant calves are often grown by farmers. The gardeners' reviews about this strawberry are, for the most part, positive: they love it for its yield and large-fruitedness. And dense berries tolerate transportation better, so they are great for commercial purposes.
Strawberry Baby Elephant is really an unpretentious variety. But, as mentioned earlier, she is sensitive to lack of care: the quality and quantity of the crop is noticeably reduced.
In order for the Elephant Strawberry to grow as in the photo, the gardener must make a lot of effort. And you should start with the correct planting of strawberry seedlings.
The place for strawberry beds is chosen sunny and protected from drafts. It is impossible for the site to be in a lowland, since moisture can collect there, and for the Elephant, its excess is destructive.
Advice! It is better to purchase high-quality strawberry seedlings in proven nurseries or grow it yourself.
Good strawberry seedlings have a healthy appearance, dense stems and long, branched roots. Plants with 3-4 true leaves are suitable for planting.
You can plant the Elephant in both spring and autumn - in order to choose the right time, the gardener must take into account the climate in his region. If the winters are not very harsh, snowy and thaw-free, it is better to plant strawberry seedlings in the fall. So the Baby Elephant will have more chances to go deep into the ground and put down good roots. When planting in autumn, the first harvest of large berries can be expected already in the next season.
Attention! The length of the central root of the seedling should not exceed 10 cm. If the roots are longer, then they are simply trimmed with sharp scissors. Immediately before planting, it is recommended to soak the strawberry root system in a growth stimulator or in ordinary water.
A month before planting, ammonium nitrate, humus, wood ash are introduced into the soil. If the acidity of the soil is elevated, it is necessary to reduce it by adding a little quicklime - Baby elephant does not like soil with a pH of more than six.
Two weeks later, the area under the strawberries is dug onto the bayonet of a shovel, having previously sprinkled superphosphate and potassium chloride over it. Now you can make holes for seedlings, leaving a distance of 20 cm between them. The row spacing should be convenient for the gardener, usually leaving about 80 cm. It remains to water the holes with warm water and plant strawberries, compacting the earth around its roots.
Advice! After planting, it is recommended to mulch the beds with the Elephant, using peat or humus.
You need to care for the Elephant calf variety carefully and regularly. The main steps for caring for strawberry beds should be the following:
- Frequent and abundant watering, because the Baby Elephant is very fond of moisture. It must be borne in mind that excess moisture can lead to rotting of strawberries. Therefore, it is recommended to water the bushes with drip systems. Water for irrigation is taken warm, and the time is chosen in the evening.
- To reduce the amount of watering, it is necessary to use mulch (straw, humus, peat, sawdust). Mulch will prevent the soil from drying out, prevent weeds and pests from multiplying. It is recommended to remove and burn the mulching layer in autumn, as it can become a source of bacteria and viruses.
- Large-fruited strawberries must be fertilized, otherwise the berries will be small and not so tasty. It is necessary to feed the bushes several times per season, while it is recommended to use mineral complexes in the summer, and use organic matter in the autumn-winter period. For the Elephant, top dressing with humus, compost, wood ash, potassium-phosphate complexes is good.
- To prevent infection of strawberries with rot and fungal diseases, it is recommended to treat the bushes with Bordeaux liquid or copper oxychloride solution. It is better to fight insects with the help of special chemicals. At the stage of fruit formation, "chemistry" is undesirable, it can be replaced with folk remedies (for example, vegetable oil + wood ash + vinegar + liquid soap).
- For the winter, it is better to mulch the elephant bushes with pine needles. This material perfectly protects the roots from freezing, allows air to pass through, allowing strawberries to breathe during thaw periods, and does not contribute to the reproduction of insects and infections.
Attention! Since the Elephant variety is distinguished by its powerful formation, strawberry beds can quickly thicken, which leads to shrinking and complete disappearance of the fruits. To prevent this, the mustache must be removed regularly.
Most of all, in the strawberry variety Elephant, I was struck by its vitality. Last summer we turned out to be very rainy and unusually cool. But even in such extreme conditions, strawberries set fruit - we collected a kilogram of berries from each bush. Of course, the berries were not very large, and there was much less sweetness in them than usual, but the other varieties from my garden did not produce a crop at all. An even greater advantage of the Elephant is its early maturity. I planted seedlings in the fall, and the next spring they enjoyed fresh large berries - about half a kilogram of strawberries were removed from each bush during the season.
The Elephant variety is perfect for those who live in a region with a difficult climate: this strawberry perfectly adapts to both cold and heat, and is able to withstand both drought and excess moisture.
Despite its unrepairable nature, the Baby Elephant pleases with abundant harvests - during the season, good owners manage to collect up to 2.5 kg of beautiful and tasty berries from each bush.