Yesterday was the first strawberry harvest. I wasn’t planning on harvesting the strawberries yesterday morning until I saw a squirrel reach through the chicken wire fence I put up earlier in the season and help itself to a nice bright red berry. After witnessing that, I went outside with my bowl and picked all of the ripe strawberries (throwing away some half-eaten ones the squirrel had already half-dined on). The good news is that the squirrel hasn’t figured out how to get into the raised bed surrounded by the chicken wire fence, but he has figured out how to reach through and pull off ripe strawberries. I suspect I will have a few more harvests as there was tons of unripe berries.
I’ve long since lost all of the tags that went along with my strawberry plants, but there is a mixture of everbearing plants that I bought at the greenhouse and alpine varieties that I started from seed – including mignonette and a white alpine variety. My favorite are the alpine varieties because they remind me of the wild strawberries that I used to pick when I was a youngster.
This year is the best strawberry harvest so far as I moved some of the plants around this past spring to give them all more room to grow. I would recommend giving new plants about a foot of space around one another – planting them too closely prevents airflow and creates shade under the berries, so sometimes they can go moldy in those conditions. In past years, I’ve just had enough strawberries to snack on as I putter about in the garden but I filled a small bowl yesterday, which was enough to put on top of gelato for three people. I bought a container of the bourbon vanilla bean gelato from Fiasco Gelato here in Calgary and it was perfect with the fresh strawberries.
I also decided early on in the season, after being frustrated by the price of annual hanging baskets, that I would fill all of my hanging baskets with strawberry plants this year. I am really happy with this spur of the moment decision because I’m going to get a ton of berries from these plants, not to mention that the hanging baskets cost me about $8 each in plants and soil to put together – yay frugality!