Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Of Berries, Moisture . . . and a Skunk

The first strawberries of the season are always a cause for celebration around here especially for strawberry-lovin' Papa Pea.  I gave him the first ripe strawberry I found in the garden a few days ago as is our tradition. I knew there were enough berries for a first picking yesterday but the weather was too wet.  (We had one deluge of 15 minutes duration that put 4/10th of an inch in the rain gauge.)

Today was forecast to be sunny, but so far it's been blowsy, gray and very damp.  It's not recommended to pick strawberries when the plants are wet, but I couldn't resist all those red, red berries beckoning to me so I went out with bowl in hand and picked only those hanging out on the edges.


My harvest weighed in at exactly one pound.


Unfortunately, there was evidence in the patch that this wet, cool weather has been hospitable to slugs . . . ugh.  (Ugh to slugs.)  Once I threw the first ruined berry over the fence into the chicken yard, I had an audience of feathered friends lined up eagerly watching me pick and ready to beat their buddies to the next one I tossed their way.


You can probably guess what we had for breakfast this morning.  Yes, the berries are late coming in this year.  Most likely lack of sunshine and warmth that hastened their ripening.

* * * * * * * *

During the night we were awakened with the perfume of a skunk, apparently one that had recently had a dispute with another creature of the forest, wafting in through our open bedroom window.  Whew-eee, was it strong.  Pepe le Pew must have made a tour of our little homestead because the odor is quite pervasive outside this morning.  When our daughter dropped off Tucker on her way to work, she said she could even smell the odor in our house.  Oh, great.  I should have gotten up and closed windows during the night when we first noticed the smell.

* * * * * * * *

I sure do wish the weather would blow clear and that sunny forecast would materialize.  I really need to spend time destroying communing with the prolific weeds in the garden.

I may not have mentioned it but about half of our Brussels sprout plants inside the screened frames blew over in a hefty wind several nights ago.  We had to lift off the frames and tie the plants to stakes so they would straighten up and fly right.  This morning I noticed two of the broccoli plants have laid down so now I'll have to enlist Papa Pea to help me get that screened frame off and stake all of them up.  I've never had this happen before but I'm assuming it's because of all our rain and the soil being so soft and soggy.

Too much rain, not enough rain.  Too hot, too cool.  We gardeners have to be a tough lot able to roll with the punches.  That . . . or we're gluttons for punishment.  (Wink-wink!)

27 comments:

Penny said...

Last year I had a fan blowing into the bedroom window. The dogs cornered a skunk right under that window. All the stink got sucked into the house before I could unplug the fan and close the window. I had to sleep on the couch for the next few days.

Susan said...

Those strawberries look so wonderful! I am hoping my new bed is more successful (as in saving berries for me and not the chipmunks) than the old one was. There is nothing quite as potent as eau 'd pepe le pew. I would have had the same problem as Penny, as I usually have a box fan in the window on sultry nights. Luckily, we haven't had the in the back, fenced yard ... yet.

tpals said...

Yum, my imagination is tasting your strawberries.

Sparkless said...

I'm going out to buy strawberries! We only have a couple of plants so not enough to actually harvest other than a fresh berry now and again. See you really need those screen frames to have sides that can pull up on hinges or something so you can get in there and not need to lift the entire thing off.

Tombstone Livestock said...

Those strawberries look like they were worth the wait.

I still think I would redesing your crop covers to a little larger, maybe longer and walk in. Maybe since you are amending your soil try more plants per area in the screened area also.

I found a recipe for rhubarb/strawberry jam with Chia Seeds ... will send it to you.

Carolyn said...

I almost forgot what the strawberries looked like! Ours a long gone, but I've been having to water the plants because we've been like a billion degrees and NO rain for weeks now, with none in sight. I don't think I have the energy or will to go through THREE (or is it four) summer droughts in a row.
Enjoy those ripe, drippy, juicy strawberries!

Sandy said...

Strawberries, love them especially if they've come from your garden. This year we planted a large amount of plants and harvested all kinds of berries. The guys every time they go by my strawberry plants cut berries and eat them while walking by.

LindaCO said...

Those berries look delicious! Glad you finally got some.

Katidids said...

Oh, your making my mouth water! We had so much rain this past week I bet I tossed 3-4 lbs of rotted berries the other night. I'm out to pick again in the morning. This is my 3rd round with blooms, I thought the berries would be pretty tiny by now but they are still large and juicy. Wind knocked over your broccoli???? That was some pretty stout winds! The covers sound like they are working great & I really appreciate you posting the testing & trials. As with most things using a new design the first year shows where adjustments would be handy. Is it possible to hinge the sides to lift up and lay across the top to access the plants? I assumed bottom hinges would get in the way of stepping close...especially if your vertically challenged.

Sue said...

I'm sure hoping all the rain doesn't start the mold going on your strawberries. A couple of years ago, we had a rainy spring and they just rotted out there. I hate our dryness here, but it bodes better for berries.
I see PIE for for the next few weeks!
(and don't forget strawberry sauce for the freezer!!--always a treat in February!)

Stephanie said...

The strawberries look amazing, and I bet they tasted it too :) I agree with you on the weather. The landlord's picked tomatoes the other day from their garden, and because of the wet conditions we have had, they looked great on the outside, but were rotten on the inside.
Hope the brussel sprouts make it!

Tami said...

I got everbearing strawberries in. I managed a really good harvest back in May and then the rains hit. It's been nonstop ever since. It smells like mushed berries out there. For every one I pick, I'm throwing 10 away.

If these rains don't slow up I'm afraid the tomatoes are doomed too.

Mama Pea said...

Penny - Oh, awful! Nothing like doing your best to bring the most potent of the skunk odor right into the house! I guess all we can do in those instances is laugh . . . and sleep on the couch!

Mama Pea said...

Susan - We had a nice (rainless) day yesterday and not much dew overnight so I'm off first thing this morning to pick the berry patch.

We could smell the skunk odor outside all day yesterday! Wonder if it will be gone today?

Mama Pea said...

tpals - Ha! Good thing your imagination didn't transport the skunk odor, too! ;o]

Mama Pea said...

Sparkless - Actually, removing the screened cages isn't that much of a problem. Especially now that we've learned to "tie them down" with bungies rather than heavy cord!

Mama Pea said...

Tombstone Livestock - I'd love to have an area (maybe in the field garden?) where we could build a big enough "screen house" in which to plant all the brassicas together. Yepper, one that I could walk right into.

Mama Pea said...

Carolyn - Why oh why is it that you are in such a drought (again) and northeastern and midwestern part of the country has had waaaay too much rain? It just isn't fair. Mother Nature?? MOTHER NATURE??? (I think she's avoiding taking any complaints and/or suggestions right now.)

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - Maybe we should always plant strawberries in a secluded spot where no one "passes by." More might actually make it into the house that way!

Mama Pea said...

LindaCO - That first pound of them yesterday sure was yummy! I'm going to pick more thoroughly today.

Mama Pea said...

Katidids - That's great that your berries are staying large . . . not usually the case!

I think the reason the Brussels sprout and broccoli plants went down was the soft, soggy ground from so much rain. In almost 50 years of gardening, I've never had that happen before.

As I said above, lifting the screened frames on and off the beds isn't that hard. (It does take two people though.) The 4' x 8' beds are so small (and I have so many plants in each one) that I couldn't really get in there to do the work needed even if we figured out how to hinge one side or end of the frames. I'll just dream big and hope for one large screen house in the field garden in which to plant all my brassicas. That one would have an actually door in it and be high enough so I could stand in it. How's that for a biggie for my wish list??

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Oh, yeah, I've had a bad mold problem in the strawberries before and it ain't fun! There were times when I had to pick with two bowls . . . one for decent berries and one for the moldy ones. Just fun nor do I want to think about it!

I make so much strawberry "sauce" for the freezer I still have several containers left from last year. This year I need more jam than I made last year. Wish me luck . . . and sunny skies for a while! Hugs.

Mama Pea said...

Stephanie - You've had way more rain than we have. Such a shame about the tomatoes! Arrrgh. How's your garden coming along?

Mama Pea said...

Tami - This crazy weather this summer is enough to make all of us gardeners crazy. Can you imagine what the farmers who depend on their crops for a living are going through? It's not good.

judy said...

You A glutton ,never,say,if you think its a skunk,why not a bear,I thought they smelled a lot like a skunk.When I was little ,I was always afraid if I smelled skunk,for that reason. and AND Jerry is doing great so far ,the foot was taken monday ,and rest of the amputation next wed.The chamber did not work

FoxyLady said...

Why shouldn't one pick strawberries when they are wet? I hadn't heard that before....outside of the fact all the other seed fluffs and stuff around will stick to them.....
I picked wild strawberries yesterday..they are so abundant and big this year. Had them on top of waffles this morning.....yummm! :)

Mama Pea said...

Foxy Lady - Sorry I'm so late getting back to you on this. Supposedly it's very easy to spread fungus in your strawberry plants by working in them when they're wet. But the way things go up here some extended periods, either you have rotted fruit or take the chance of the fungus!