No, I didn’t harvest these today (although I did sneak in a couple of lingering raspberries at the community garden). I’m joining in again with the Grow Write Guild, and this time the prompt is to generate a random writing topic using a photo from your archive.
Oddly enough, I’ve just finished organising my digital photographs. Over 17,000 pictures, reduced to less than 4,000 in a few short weeks. For years I’ve stored thousands of blurred pictures of garden birds, faraway bands, and poorly-lit tea and cake. Not any more though – they now all have titles and labels, and are stored in neat little folders. If only the rest of my life were so organised!
For this prompt, I proudly opened my new ‘garden’ folder, shut my eyes, scrolled up and down erratically, and selected the photo above (named, rather unimaginatively, ‘strawberries’, and tagged ‘colours’). Apparently it was taken on 17th October 2010 – strawberries, in the middle of October? Really? I know that I printed it and used it as part of a rainbow photo collage that now hangs above the teapot in my office.
I know people who have very little interest in eating seasonally or locally most of the year, but who won’t buy anything other than English strawberries, in season. What is it about strawberries that inspires such passion? Yes, it’s ridiculous transporting something so delicate and full of water half way around the world – but the same applies to cucumbers and I’ve never heard anyone say ‘I only buy English cucumbers’ with the same pride that they apply to strawberries. Why are they so special?
Maybe it’s because of the way that they look. A strawberry is a beautiful thing – heart shaped, the perfect dimpled red. Perhaps cucumbers just aren’t as pretty.
There were strawberries in this garden long before I arrived. Peter remembers banging on the window to chase away a crow that was merrily munching its way through a fine crop (the crow cocked its head for a moment, and decided he wasn’t a threat). I’ve never done anything to the strawberries – never fed or watered them, never put straw under them, never planted the runners. Each year I’ve had a (very small) strawberry crop despite my efforts, not because of them.
I read that you should replant strawberries every three years, so mine must be well overdue for a new start. After moving things around out there, I only have one venerable old strawberry plant, currently flowering (I’m not sure that’s wise at this time of year). Perhaps I’ll restock in the spring.
My plans for next year’s garden are rather ambitious. I’ve become one of those people who pores over seed catalogues, circling more things than I’ll ever have room for. Next year I’m planning cherry tomatoes, outdoor cucumbers (well, someone’s got to love them), squash, french beans, sunflowers, blue potatoes, rocket, garlic, and lots and lots of flowers.
I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to put them all in this tiny garden of ours. The garlic is already in, but the other spaces are still up for grabs. I think an evening with some graph paper and a mug of hot chocolate is in order.
Have you planned next year’s garden yet? Will you have strawberries?