Brooding On

Life Cycle of the Backyard Strawberry

Our strawberries are super-productive right now.  Here are the ones I carried inside yesterday.  I took in just as many today.  They just don't stop!
So that you can get an idea of how big a strawberry patch will give you this many berries, here's a photo of our patch.  If you're familiar with our backyard, it runs along the West side of the shed that sits in the middle of our backyard.  It's probably about 12 feet long.  I ordered the plants about 4 years ago as a little pack of slips.  This patch has developed from what was originally 15-20 small, spindly sprouts.

As I harvest, I throw the "good" berries into my basket and the "bad" berries out onto the grass.  When I'm finished, I go back and gather up the bad berries in another container.  The berries on the left are the ones that go inside.  The ones on the right are the ones that have bruises or that pests have beaten us to.  Oh, the joys of organic gardening.  It's hard to complain, though, when you're eating 2 quarts of fresh strawberries a day.

Not to worry, though, those beaten up berries don't go to waste.  The chickens, it seems, aren't nearly as picky about their berries as we are.  And berries are some of their very favorite foods.  The chicken poo is "harvested" once a week and added to the compost pile, where it will turn into black gold -- an amazing fertilizer.  Eventually, it will be added back to the soil around the strawberry plants, fueling future berries.

Even if you don't have chickens, you can still grow strawberries from strawberries, like we do.  Just skip the chicken step and add the battered berries (and all your other fruit and veggie scraps) directly  to the compost pile. 

And, some of those lucky berries that make it inside get to go into my very most favorite food in all the world --  a backyard berry pie.  Our berries make a great strawberry pie because they're a bit more tart than, say, Bald Knob berries.  The sweet/tartness of the berries combined with the sugary pie filling is just DIVINE. 
This genuine smile came at the end of a very long day.  John and I were exhausted and had just gotten all the kids down to bed after traveling home from an away softball game.  I'd completely forgotten about the pie I'd made that afternoon . . . until I opened up the refrigerator.  John and I then pigged out on pie as our long, busy day faded into the background.  It was a nice moment.