There's nothing like fresh fruit in the summertime -- especially when that freshness comes straight from the backyard. Our gardening -- tending and fertilization efforts are starting to pay off now with some impressive strawberry harvests from a berry patch that started from one, single, solitary strawberry plant.
One is apparently all you need...Because -- as I was soon to discover -- one plant turns into many if provided with the right soil and right conditions. The strawberries featured to your right started from just one plant -- purchased at Capitol Nursery two seasons ago.
We didn't have our raised strawberry bed created just yet -- so I planted it in the corner of a tomato bed -- and there it grew -- expanded -- and sent out "runners" for other berry plants in the same bed. By the time next spring rolled around? One plant had turned into about 20.
I was rather alarmed. How did all those plants get there? Did someone plant other strawberries while I wasn't watching? It was time to move them to a new home.
That "new home" is a two foot wide and six foot long, nine inch raised bed located against a back fence on the east end of the Bird Back 40. I thought this would be more than enough room -- but our little "strawberry patch" soon gobbled up the extra space and began to "demand more." I have to hack this thing back regularly.
I should be handing out strawberry plants to unsuspecting friends and neighbors instead.
I'm not even sure of what this variety is -- except that it is an ever-bearing plant -- which means it produces all summer long. The berries that you see in the photo above? That was just the start of the harvest. I didn't realize it -- but I'd skipped quite a few ripened berries during the first harvest.
I also noticed ten to 12 developing strawberries right next to every strawberry that I harvested today. This tells me that our season is just now starting to get underway. I think we'll be harvesting berries for quite some time.
Please forgive the blurry photo to your right. My hand was shaking (with obvious excitement!). Our strawberry patch has never yielded quite this much before -- and what I like to call the "Hand of Venus" is playing dividends.
I told you this lady has a green thumb.
Venus had been battling an invasion of slugs in the strawberry patch earlier this spring. Although she battled back with cat food cans filled with cheap beer (slugs love beer) -- she couldn't fill them up fast enough -- or a spring rainstorm diluted things so much that the "beer barrier" was rendered inneffective.
She's recently turned to the organic practice of spreading egg shells in the strawberry patch -- a new one for me. Believe it or not -- it appears to be working wonders. There was a time when three out of five strawberries would show some kind of slug damage.
But since Venus started spreading eggshells? No damage whatsoever. I didn't find a single -- slug-spoiled strawberry during my hunting and gathering efforts this morning. Don't ask me how this works. I have no clue. But Bill Bird is a big fan of egg shells in the strawberry patch
And boy did I find some berries!
Combine those strawberries with some ripened June Pride peaches? You've got yourself one nice, sweet garden treat for breakfast. Although the June Pride peaches are disappointingly small this season -- they're still pretty darn good.
I'm not sure why the peach harvest is somewhat smaller this year. It might be the result of our cold spring. Or it just might be the year for smaller peaches. I'm not familiar enough yet with the June Pride variety to tell yet. This variety normally doesn't yield large, grapefruit sized peaches. But it's not supposed to yield plum-sized peaches either.
This year -- for some reason -- it is.
The neighborhood birds -- our "feathered friends" as we call them -- don't seem to mind much to our chagrin.
Stupid birds! Just when we need our hunter-killer cats for fruit protection efforts -- they suddenly choose to go on a diet. "No birds for us," they claim. "How bout refilling that cat food dish son?"
So -- what's new? This is the first year -- our third in our new and expansive North Natomas backyard -- that we've been able to actually combine fruit harvests. The strawberries were not ripening at the same time as the June Pride peaches last year -- probably due to the fact that they had just been transplanted into a new home.
But this year? We have strawberries. We have an eye-popping number of strawberries. I have a feeling that these harvest numbers will only continue to multiply exponentially in the coming years.