Eating Your Landscape: Where to Plant Strawberries
We used to have nearby neighbors who, instead of flowers or shrubs in the landscaping around their house, grew strawberries. The Sachs were and are lovely smart people who raised lovely smart kids and I never really set out to copy them. But lo and behold when we moved to a new home my daughter, who lived at home for several years after college and since we were still working on landscaping stuff, said why don’t we plant strawberries instead of bushes or flowers in that bed. (See above.)
I hemmed and hawed and drug my feet. I had tried to grow a bed of strawberries once, before kids, and when they came along I gave up trying to weed and maintain that small bed.
Oh she would do most of the work, she said. But you won’t always live here, will you, I said. No, of course not, but we all love strawberries. And they are so good for you! Think of stepping out our front door …
Well of course she won and for 3 1/2 years she did most of the work in terms of taking care of the beds (while we both picked them and fought the dreaded slugs). Now I’m happy for not just one but two strawberry beds that function as ground cover. And on the steepest slope on our property, the strawberry plants keep the bank from eroding. They seem to thrive in only a little bit of not-great-soil.
It beats weed eating this dang bank.
The strawberry beds also function as my morning exercise a few weeks out of the year. Talk about building your core—stooping over a patch of strawberries with feet planted in bare spots in the bed, and holding that pose while reaching far to gather all the berries your fingers can reach. And then when you maneuver your position just a little, you see another whole clump of berries.
But the reward: three quarts (plus a handful) of fresh berries right out your front door and down the bank at the end of the house, that you didn’t have to drive 10 or 15 miles or more to pick. Not as big and pretty, but homegrown.
Sure there is weeding (always), and transplanting and thinning when the bed gets too full (which should have happened last year but it didn’t, so this year the berries are kind of small) and covering up the bed in the fall with straw (which again, didn’t quite happen this year, but even with the harsh winter we had, those plants survived). They are hearty. I just wish I knew what type we planted.
But not to worry. They keep spreading their love and juicy goodness further down the bank and out from the original patches.
There is one small worry: the poison ivy that stands as a menacing guard over a small portion of the bank patch. And I’m notorious for getting a bad case most years from somewhere on our property. Like last year. So I pick carefully, and just in case, scrub my hands with the mechanic’s friend, GoJo when I’m done.
Coming up on my Friday recipe of the week, my favorite thing to make out of strawberries.
What’s your favorite strawberry dish or recipe?
Here’s one tasty salad recipe I shared earlier using strawberries and lambsquarter (weeds).
Are strawberries found in the Bible? Not really, just if you are reading the paraphrase, The Message, you find some. But it is a passage worth remembering, speaking about how difficult is to control the tongue–kind of like a spreading berry patch, or poison ivy.
“This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?” James 3: 7-12