Friday, June 29, 2018

Strawberry Fields Forever . . .

Good golly, Miss Molly, I'm glad I don't have strawberry fields, but rather just a strawberry patch.  If it weren't for my strawberry-loving husband, I'm not sure how readily I would agree to maintaining our strawberries.  Of all the berries one can grow in their home garden, I find strawberries to be the most labor intensive.

But enough grumping and grousing.

Our strawberries are coming in earlier than usual this year and also are exhibiting different characteristics this season.  We've had only our second harvest of the year so far, and things (and my thoughts) could change by the end of the season.

We woke to bright sunshine this morning.  I made my latte and settled in front of my computer as I usually do.  A half hour or so later, I got up to rinse out my empty mug and was shocked to see it looking as dark outside as at 9:30 at night.  Whoa!  I expected we had a chance of rain later today, but this looked more like Armageddon!

Knowing there were ripe strawberries out there, I grabbed two bowls and ran outside hoping I could get at least two of the varieties picked before the rain started.  Soon Papa Pea came out with another bowl, and I directed him to the outside row of Earliglow berries.

Luck was with us and we finished the three rows just as the first big plops of rain began falling.

Although for my records I'm keeping the yields from the three varieties separate, we got a total of just under six pounds this morning.  Not too shabby.

BUT.  Normally in the first couple weeks of the berry harvest, the fruits are very large in size then progressively get a bit smaller as the season goes on until the very last harvests are often only small hardly-worth-picking nubs.

I'm not happy to see these first berries not being large.

Granted, we have been lacking moisture this year and sad to say, we still don't have a handy-dandy, efficient irrigation system in place.  Our current system is me standing with a hose, and I must admit that although I've been diligent about watering the rest of the garden, the strawberry plants have been looking so large and lush that I haven't taken the time to water the good-sized patch more than once.  We could have set up our small sprinkler which automatically rotates over a given area, but have been negligent in doing so.  (Perhaps not the brightest move.)

Are the berries the plants are now producing smaller because of lack of water?  A good guess would be yes.  (Picture Mama Pea mentally kicking herself in the tush as she types this.)

I just tip-toed across the rain soaked deck to check out the rain gauge.  Our dark and ominous storm is over and it gave us a good 1/2" of rain which the garden will be loving.  Especially the strawberry plants.

The strawberry rows after the rain.

More rain is forecast for the rest of the day.  Flash flood warnings and damaging hail (not good) have been issued for other parts of our county.  Hopefully, we'll just get more of the nourishing rain.  We can use it.

Plus, this day should give me time indoors.  What will I be doing?  Trying to create a balance.  A little knitting on the couch, some machine quilting in my quilt room and cleaning out and defrosting freezers in preparation of the coming garden harvests.  It will be a good day.


MrsDuncanMahogany said...

We awoke this morning to the same storm system. Quite a big one I must say! No hail thankfully but lots of rain and a nice light show as well. I don't think we are due any more precipitation today but I do hope that yours is done! I have been slowly moving things around in my gardens and discovered that "some thing" has turned both my potato bags which weigh in at least 50 pounds + upside down and my stalks were broken. Not to mention the table they were on was almost on its side with two of its legs stuck quite well into the dirt.

Any bets on what that could have been? Bear?

Mama Pea said...

Yep, I'd bet on a bear. We once had a bear tear apart the side of a shed (plywood covered) to get to some sacks of feed inside. Kinda scary the power they can have, eh? Sorry for the damage that was done on your place.

I kind of panicked this morning when I heard the report of possible damaging hail, 1" in size. Can you imagine the destruction that would do in the garden? Just about everything would be shredded. :o(

wisps of words said...

You are so good to Papa Pea. All that maintenance of the strawberries. (-blush- we buy them at a farm)

Glad for your rain.

Here we are in for a heat wave, and no rain. -sigh- We don't have the produce which you do. But he will be going around with a watering can, on the pots.

Enjoy your rain-in-day!!!!

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - The nearest strawberry farm to us is about 80 miles away and unfortunately they spray their berries. It's important to us to have food that's raised without chemicals or anything else that might be harmful if ingested. Otherwise, I know a couple of days of picking from a commercial outlet would be much easier than raising our own. Not complaining; we're willing to do what we have to for safe food. Plus, being away from large populations limits our outside resources, too. Again, our choice so I'm not complaining.

I am enjoying my "inside" day! Just got up from knitting on a new sock for hubby. Kinda "camo" colored yarn and interesting.

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Wow your strawberries look great! Wish I had that much room but we do have raspberries, Marion Berries, and blackberrie so at least we have some others.

Michelle said...

I was slow to remember how much strawberries depend on regular watering; once I did, our berries got bigger! Maybe yours will, too.

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - We've gotten 1" of rain in the last 24 hours so I'm expecting big things to happen in the strawberry patch! ;o}

Mama Pea said...

Nancy - Wish we could grow blackberries here -- yum! -- but we don't seem to have enough warmth for them. Have had Marion berries in tarts at a restaurant and they were delicious. We can grow raspberries but haven't put in new plants after pulling our old, old ones last year. Maybe next year!

Mark said...

Nice looking rows of strawberries, Mama Pea! Lots of work now, yummy reminders of warmer days in the winter.

We've really been inundated with rain this year here and are a number of inches above our average rainfall for the year. Today will be the first day since planting I'll have to run the sprinkler. We've also had above average temperatures and humidity. We're into a multi-day stretch of days with 105 degree F heat indexes. All this is happy news for the gardens and miserable news for the gardeners who tend them. The strawberries are done but the rest of the garden (and the weeds) are in overdrive. So outdoor work happens in the morning and evenings only, and it's indoor work during the rest of the day.

Glad to hear things are going pretty well for you while been away slacking!

Mama Pea said...

Well, hello, Stranger! Good to hear from you. I've been hearing reports of awful, terrible heat and humidity in your area. It's probably best you've had enough rain or your garden would be crinkly dry by now. You can't water enough with sprinkler or hose when it's that hot! We have had a couple of days when it's just been way too hot in the garden mid-day, but mostly we've been having a cool season. Today we've had steady rainfall all day, but we've needed it so I'll not complain . . . until it hasn't stopped in 4 or 5 days!

Hope all is well with you and De.