Friday, June 6, 2014

Strawberries, strawberries, strawberries

Allstar strawberries ... pan after pan after pan

When it rains, you raise your umbrella.  When your strawberries ripen, you pick and pick and pick.

I had feared the “Polar Vortex” inspired deep freeze of winter 2013-2014 had damaged our strawberry patch, but the Allstar plant variety I planted two years is producing well this spring, and Ellen and I this week have picked more berries than we can possibly eat.

Wednesday morning, for example, in about 15 minutes we filled our aluminum garden pan with the bright red fruit.  Curious, I got out our kitchen scale and the needle pointed to just under four pounds (1.8 kg).  We had picked almost that many Tuesday.  And Friday morning I picked even more—heaping the garden pan and a smaller plastic container.

We’ve been eating fresh strawberries on our cereal every morning for more than a week.  Our daughter has volunteered to eat some—and did some picking herself one evening.  I’ve recycled tomato clamshell packages to gift two neighbors with prime berries.  Our resident catbird couple has been enjoying some of the sweet fruit too.

And still we have too many strawberries.  Wednesday night we got panicky and baked some shortcake on which we heaped berries, berries, and more berries.  Love that panic!  And we enjoyed leftover shortcake with strawberries again Thursday evening.  And every morning we heap berries on our morning cereal.  What next—freezer jam?

Panic supper for Ancient and Mrs. Gardener
I figure our strawberry harvest is peaking this week and that we’ve picked more than 15 pounds of berries.  Say we pick another eight pounds.  That would be 23 pounds of fruit from the original 25 plants of 2012 and their offspring, called “daughters” in berry ads.  A local farm charges U-pickers $2.75 a pound. A pound clamshell of berries at our local Giant Foods supermarket recently have averaged $2.99, so our $26.50 investment in the plants in 2012 this year yielded fruit worth nearly $60.00  Not bad—or more appropriately—how sweet.  This Frugal Gardener wishes our bank paid interest at that rate.

I followed directions that came with the plants from the Indiana Berry & Plant Co. and kept my two small beds narrow to maximize yield.  In addition to producing beautiful fruit, the two narrow strawberries beds serve as borders of two small vegetable gardens.

This Ancient Gardener sees only one downside to growing strawberries.  It seems that over the years strawberry plants are growing shorter.  Or maybe my legs are growing longer and my arms are getting shorter.  Oh, my Aching Back.  I need to start working in the price of a bottle of acetaminophen tablets into my strawberry cost analysis.  But certainly the harvest is worth a few aches and pains.

In about five years, when it’s time to plant a new bed of strawberries and I’ll be zeroing in on 80 (age, not miles per hour), perhaps I’ll have to start planting only “tall” varieties of our favorite fruits and vegetables, ones that don’t require me to stoop and stand and stoop and stand.  Or maybe by then some genius will have invented a portable garden elevator so I can just hop on, push “up,” and won’t have to struggle to stand upright after berry picking.

Life is good in the gardens at Meadow Glenn.  And that’s the real lowdown.  Really.

Strawberry shortcake--again?


  1. Bob, just found your blog--loving it! I garden in Western MD--Allegany County. Do you have an overall pic of your garden that shows the strawberry beds placement in relationship to the veggie patch? I'd like to see how you did that. Thanks! Enjoy those berries!! julie

  2. Bob,

    There is a solution to the aching back. Just make your raised beds waist level and fill them with compost. The yields will be tremendous.