Strawberry season is nearly over at our house. We’re just about done with those three weeks or so in May when our two berry patches draw us in and don’t let go.
Sleep? Dinner? Travel? Forget it. We have berries to pick!
In the cool of nearly every evening, we search and snap the red and ready.
I wake early to top and chop. All of us sort and wash and eat. We spoon strawberries with granola and yogurt for breakfast, pop strawberries straight into our mouths for lunch, blend strawberry smoothies for snack and stir up strawberry shortcake for dessert. We give away mason jars full of the tiny, shiny jewels as teacher gifts and birthday surprises. We encourage our neighbors to snitch a few.
What’s still on the table at the end of the day, we freeze, with plans for jam-making once our “fields” have given us all they have.
We know we’re a little crazy about this crop.
After all, grocery stores carry strawberries for pretty cheap this time of year. Even the farmers markets are bursting with them.
But to me, there’s something special about growing my own food. And not only growing enough for a taste but actually growing all the strawberries I can stand to eat in season and then more to put up for the 49 weeks a year when there are no strawberries ripening in my yard.
The thing is, the strawberry plants make it easy to do. They grow well here in Southwest Virginia, returning every spring and spreading like weeds. Our strawberry patch began as a three-foot-by-five-foot bed maybe five years ago, but has now multiplied eight times over. We’ve found that the runners the mature plants send out will fill whatever space we give them. So each year, we give them a little more. Strawberry plants are now the ground cover in our front yard. In our original patch beside the driveway, the plants thrive in and around our blueberry bushes.
All this is to say: If you’ve ever considered planting a few of your own, let me encourage you to dig in.
Strawberries are special in our house, too, because they are the heralds of the harvest that is to come. If May means strawberries, then June is cucumbers and July, tomatoes, and August, peppers.
It’s the same with every crop. For a few weeks, we have plenty, then we are picking more than enough, then we must figure how to save for later. Then they are gone. Such is the nature of the garden, the rhythm of spring, summer, fall.
So when the strawberries come and then go, we know we are just beginning the season of bounty and of good eating.
It’s a very good place to be.