We are now right in the thick of the glorious strawberry season, and I’m getting a little overwhelmed. I learned that berries do not ripen any further after they are picked, so my daily visit to the strawberry patch is wracked with a hundred snap decisions – is it deep red enough or should I risk it for another day?
The last week has been really rainy and I missed a day of picking. Today, I found a lot of luscious red berries had begun to rot where they leaned on the soil, lost forever. I fetched a second container and tossed each berry into either the family bucket or the chicken bucket. It took a bit of concentration to get the rhythm going and I had to go back and fix my errors quite a few times – chicken, family, family, family, chicken, oops! Family, chicken, family…
The chickens were smiling with their jackpot, but I want to minimize the losses next year. It has occurred to me, they are called straw-berries, after all. Maybe I need to lay a thick blanket of straw under the vines next year to keep the fruit off the ground? I am a very ignorant farmer, but I can be taught even if it is all through trial and error.
I’m getting about four pounds of berries a day right now. My mother always recited, “A pint’s a pound, the world around.” Which leads me to estimate that this is about two quarts. I was able to test my theory when I brought them in, washed, and sliced them up. Four and a half pounds came out as nine or ten cups, or five pints. How about that!
I looked up in my trusty “Ball Blue Book” how to preserve strawberries, and I used the freezing recipe where you add a small amount of sugar to the cleaned and sliced berries, so now I have three quart bags for this winter.
I really struggle with culling out my precious little plant babies. I planted sunflowers and it hurt me every time I plucked out a seedling to thin the crop enough for the others to grow better. The same with my strawberry vines. I rejoice to see how each year they spread just a little further and up until now I have not had the stomach to say, “No.” and stop the migration.
This year, though, I think I have reached my limit and after the growing season ends I am going to heartlessly assert my will. The strawberry patch is five or six feet across in some areas and even with my considerable ballast, I struggled to stay on my feet as I leaned as far over as I dared to reach the ripe morsels in the middle of the patch. The question is, should I make a path down the center or yank up the vines that are encroaching on my asparagus? Perhaps I could transplant them into the newer end of the row that has not really flourished yet. Never mind, it’s my problem and not a terrible one to solve. I just have to get over my issues of forever cheering on my little growing things.