Posted in gardening, Life

Words for Wednesday: Strawberry patch forever

One of the aspects of summer as a child that I vividly recall was my parents’ garden.

Every year, my elderly grandparents, who lived with us, wanted home grown produce and that meant a large vegetable garden. And every year, even after both my grandparents passed away, my mother and father planted one.

Nothing tasted better than freshly picked vegetables and fruit straight from the garden, especially after you endured a hot, sun-filled day plucking them from the plants. I spent many summer days on the back porch shelling peas, snapping beans, and husking corn to help my mother.

Vegetable gardens require a lot of work and attention, but the rewards are worth it.

Not only must you prepare the soil before planting, but then you must ascertain when to plant certain crops, sow either seeds or fledgling plants, water if there isn’t enough rain, hoe to keep the weeds at bay, chase critters out of the budding garden or put up a fence to protect the free smorgasbord that animals are enticed by, and then once the plants begin producing, pick the crops, and prepare them for eating, canning, or freezing.

Every spring, my city-born husband, the Papa of our empty nest out here in the country, strives to plant a small garden. Some years we enjoy bounty; sometimes the crops are scanty depending on weather conditions, pesky insects, and foraging animals. The solution to critters is he puts a fence around the garden every year.

A number of years ago, he planted six blueberry bushes in our yard. Very quickly we learned we must cover them with a net canopy supported by arching PVC piping (which Papa designed and built) to protect the budding blueberries from hungry birds. By doing so, we usually have a bumper crop. But then the attack of the Japanese beetles arrived, and we learned we had to fight them off as well.

For a few years, we also reaped abundant strawberries, but after a time, the plants stopped producing and those had to be dug out and replaced.  Papa ordered new ones and planted those three years ago.

The first year the plants were too young to produce, the next year, those hungry (but not angry) birds found them and decimated the crop. This year, Papa covered the plants in the spring with netting supported by a fence.

Earlier this month, we spent a few days away from home traveling to see some sights. And the photo above is what we came back home to find – loads and loads of strawberries. That photo was merely the first picking.

For a number of days, our baskets were heaped to the hilt full of fresh, ripe, ruby red strawberries. Strawberry freezer jam, strawberry shortcake, strawberries on breakfast waffles, we’ve had it all. And I deposited several quarts in the freezer for later as well.

It seemed the strawberry patch and my red-stained fingers would go on forever, but of course, that didn’t happen. Strawberry produce time has come to an end just as the blueberries are starting to develop on our bushes.

More picking. More freezing. More jam making. More searching high and low for recipes requiring those nutritious blueberries that hopefully will be plentiful.

According to some studies, blueberries and strawberries possess something called anthocyanins which can help reverse memory loss that’s associated with aging. That’s a good reason to eat them right there!

Strawberries also are packed with vitamin C, which boosts our immune systems, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. And because of their high polyphenol content, both strawberries and blueberries might help protect against heart disease.

And the great part is that much of the nutrition contained in those berries is retained when you freeze them. That’s why you’ll find containers loaded with blue and red berries in our freezer.  

It’s not true that the strawberry patch will last forever, and neither will the blueberries produce for longer than the few weeks in summer, but we will still enjoy their bounty for months to come when we pull out a freezer bag full of their goodness.

“If there were wild strawberries in Eden, and there must have been, Adam was a fool as well as a sinner to taste any other fruit.” ~ Hal Borland

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2021

Author:

Mama of this empty nest, I’m content to live a quiet, country life with my husband of 40+ years and to view the gorgeous sunsets off my own back yard deck. Mama to three adults and Nana to adorable grandchildren, my empty nest fills up again with noise and laughter when they all return 'home'. A former English teacher, reporter/editor, education director for a non-profit organization, and stay at home mom, I retired after a season of substitute teaching at a private academy. Now I enjoy time spent with my grandchildren and family and writing words that seem to pour out of my soul or wandering around the countryside with my camera. Foremost, my faith sustains me as I meander through the empty nest stage of life. My favorite scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

9 thoughts on “Words for Wednesday: Strawberry patch forever

  1. We found a strawberries planted here in our new house and this year we’ve had a few good basket full. We just replanted a bunch to a better garden area, but the heat here is being a problem.

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  2. One of my “retirement” plans was to have a fruit and vegetable garden, but I changed my mind when I realized how many roadside stands and farm markets there were in our area (most a mere 5 – 10 minute drive away). I get farm-fresh fruit and veg, support our local farmers, and I don’t have to stave off hungry bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. LOL! Summer for me will always “start” with strawberries and peas (there is nothing I like more than fresh peas – no cooking them for me) and “end” with raspberries and corn on the cob. So many wonderful childhood memories in those smells and tastes! Congrats on your “berry” wonderful success!

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    1. We have some wonderful produce markets near us too and we visit those for the veggies and fruit we don’t grow. Keeping the critters away from the garden is a challenge and we have downsized our garden plot considerably. Yep, I too always think of summer starting when strawberries are ripe and ending with corn on the cob. And fresh peas? Yum. We had some last year in our garden and they were the best peas I’ve ever tasted, but hubby didn’t get any planted this year. 😦 Now our blueberries are ripening, so it’s back to the kitchen for me.

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