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The Wildlife Tax

June 29th, 2016

This year the wildlife tax has been really high for the strawberries. We have a large patch of berries, they are one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fruits. There are two, 70 foot long rows that are 3-4 four feed wide. Last year we froze around 40 quarts for winter. This year we lost the first flush of berries to waxwings. A flock of about 15-20 of them came in and gobbled up about 12 quarts of berries in one night.
cedar waxwing
We realized what was happening and covered the berries with row cover to protect them. The few nights later, the raccoons came in and ripped holes in the cover and ate the ripening strawberries. Thankfully we aren’t keeping pigs this year, so we have just enough electric fencing to surround the big garden.
homegrown strawberries 1
After building Fort Knox around the strawberries, we were finally able to harvest a few quarts. We celebrated with shortcake for dinner that night and the next night as well. Generally we love to share our bounty with friends and neighbors, but there hasn’t been enough berries for that.
homegrown strawberries 2
Overall we lost about 50% of our harvest this year to wildlife. Since there has been a drought this spring in Maine, the harvest was already reduced as well. Luckily we have a large patch and are still getting a few for the freezer and a few for eating. At least we have a large enough patch that we are still getting a few berries for the table. Next year I will definitely be covering the berries really early to protect them from the birds and the electric fence will most likely go up around the garden first thing in the spring.

What methods do you employ to protect plants from marauding wildlife? 

New Varieties

June 23rd, 2016

I’m a sucker for trying new varieties of all kinds of things, especially vegetables. I have six different kinds of strawberries in the garden and I just acquired a new one.
old north sea strawberry 1
These ‘Old North Sea’ strawberries were said to have been found on an ancient ancient, viking village site in Denmark.
old north sea strawberry 3
I thought this variety would be a nice addition to my collection of interesting strawberries. It should be interesting to see how it performs and reproduces in the garden. I’m looking forward to tasting one of the berries next summer.

Do you collect different varieties of the same plant?

Friday Favorite: Strawberry Season

June 20th, 2014

Last night we have our first flush of ripe berries from the garden, they were delicious!
strawberries 1
I planted these last year, we have ‘Sparkle’ Junebearing strawberry plants and everbearing ‘Seascape’. I wanted to give overbearing a try to see how they did. Last year they didn’t produce very many berries but it was their first year. We will see how they do this year.
strawberries 2
We enjoyed the berries on strawberry shortcake, one of our favorite summer meals. If you’d like the recipe I posted it a few years ago on this post.
strawberry_shortcake 2
Next year we should have even more strawberries, our plants produce lots of runners. I’ll be moving all the ones that come this year to a new spot in the garden. Strawberries do well if they are moved to a new location every 3 years. I plan on adding a new section in the garden before the old one is exhausted so we alway have lots of berries.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy strawberries?

Friday Favorite: Strawberries in October

October 25th, 2013

This spring I planted 25 ‘Seascape’ strawberry plants in my garden. They took their time getting settled in and finally started producing a few berries last month. They’re really in the swing of things right now. I’m not the only one growing these beauties, there’s a stand at the farmers market that has had them for the last month as well.
strawberries
It’s kind of crazy to be harvesting fresh strawberries from my own garden at the end of October. I’m not complaining, a handful of fresh strawberries is just as good in October as it is in June. It’s kind of like the last hurrah of summer before the snow flies!

Do you have any ever bearing strawberries in your garden?

Little Yellow Wonder Strawberries

July 2nd, 2010

Last year, on a whim, I purchased a packet of ‘Yellow Wonder’ strawberry seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I started the seeds mid-summer and planted them in my garden in the fall.

The plants are compact, about 8-10 inches tall and very lush. I’m using them as a ground cover and edging in the front foundation garden. ‘Yellow Wonder’ is an alpine strawberry, so it doesn’t put off runners. This is why they’re in the front garden, I don’t have to worry about them taking over like some strawberry plants might.

The best part of these strawberries is that they’re everbearing, meaning they’ll bear fruit all summer long and into fall. They started producing a few berries in the spring, when the regular strawberry plants fruited. I wasn’t sure I would like them at that time, the fruit seemed a little mushy and they weren’t producing very many berries. About mid-June things changed. They started producing nicely and the fruit tastes much better, I’m actually quite fond of them now. They have an exotic flavor much like passion fruit, they’re really wonderful topping a salad.

Being able to grow interesting varieties of thing is one of the reasons I garden and grow edible things. I’m quite certain I never would have tasted a yellow strawberry had I not planted them in my own garden. Now I’ll be enjoying these little yellow beauties on my salads all summer long!

Do you have any interesting varieties of fruits or vegetables you’d discovered?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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