We get really good strawberries in Oregon. They might not ship as well as the California ones, but they’re not taste-free red pulp around a white cardboard heart, either. Our climate and soil are conducive to growing the very best: the Hoods, the Totems, the Quinaults, the Firecrackers. Everyone grows them. You just drop a few bare-root plants in the ground and yell hi-oh and they gallop across the bed. Take the weed-whacker to the edges a few times a season to keep the luscious goo off your driveway. All of which is good news for Dave, who loudly adores strawberries.
Naturally, I can’t grow strawberries. I can’t even grow one strawberry.
There’s a long bed thumping with raspberries; there are blueberry bushes groaning under the load. And somehow, he thinks, none of these is as delicious as the particular strawberry I cannot grow. I don’t even think he cares that much. It’s just that he can’t have it. Suddenly, a good home-grown strawberry is the most important thing in the world, and completely elusive. It’s the Holy Grail. Unicorn DNA. The literary agent who loves your manuscript and wouldn’t change a single word.
We hike the streets of Portland, where waves of strawberries crash onto the sidewalks like God’s own reproach. Dave pauses for a long look, then turns to me with the eyes of an orphaned basset hound. He needs me to feel bad. He’s punching a ticket for a free bout of teasing, later. Something along the lines of “I would think you of all people would be good at making shortcake.”
I have tried. I have had strawberry plants in the ground for twenty years. Occasionally a small, hard green fruit emerges and dies of loneliness. And I do know that you’re not supposed to plant strawberries anywhere that strawberries have grown for the previous three years. Evidently after three years, they’re exhausted. I do not know why. They never do anything.
I have a successful garden, otherwise. People assume I know
what I’m doing, but all I’m doing is pulling out the dead shit. The rest looks great. The strawberry plants don’t die. They just sit there like a growing stack of unread New Yorker magazines, projecting guilt. There isn’t much to the growing of strawberries, according to the experts. Soil pH is important. You can have all the minerals and nutrients in the world and if the soil pH is wrong, your strawberries won’t absorb them. It’s like the minerals and nutrients are facts, and the pH is the soil’s religion. Get it wrong, and the soil will deflect all reason. My strawberry plants, apparently, are sitting around quietly waiting for the second coming.
I could lime their asses, or I could go to the store and buy a pint of Hoods.
Store’s only a few blocks away.
My garden (flowers) this year is a disaster. My hubby's vegetables are almost the same. We traveled at the wrong time and are paying the price.
You need a neighbor who smokes pot and has a lot of time on her hands.
Ermmm… I'm not saying I qualify for that job (okay, I do) but have I mentioned I love retirement?
Tabor needs you. Get on over there.
Oh, go on, do both – go get your Hoods and on the way get your lime, too. Work off the calories by spreading the lime, and reap the strawberries next year. Then write a post or several about it. Win, win, win. Probably the most win will be for us readers, but we don't mind 🙂
Since I wrote this, I produced one strawberry. It was misshapen, but genuine. There.
So yes, pick up that pint of Hoods and then steal out and secrete them through your barren bed. Of strawberries, that is.
Oh now why didn't I think of THAT!
Easy decision there, enjoy your short walk.
Plus, I can use his money.
I can grow them, but the deer and rabbits eat them. And I live in the suburbs, for heaven's sake. The deer and rabbits tell me they were here first though.
What was that children's book with the bunny family that lived in someone's garden and he planted a row of vegetables just for them? Am I making that up?
I'm on my way up to Northwest Crossing (Bend) Farmer's Market! Strawberries, here I come!
You're picking up whipping cream on the way home, aren't you? Aren't you?
I would outvote Dave on the most delicious berry ever. Raspberries sing louder to me.
When I was a child we had a cockatoo who would agree with him though. The cockatoo (who was free) used to inspect the strawberry patch each day. If one was turning red, he picked it up and carefully examined both sides to ensure it was completely ripe. If it was – it was gone and smeared his beak. Not quite ripe? He put it back down and inspected it again the next day (or later that day).
So you got no strawberries. But free cockatoos. That has to be worth something. Anyway, I think you're all wrong, and blueberries rule.
Yesterday, I bought a punnet of strawberries.Almost "imported" as they are freighted from somewhere down Brisbane way.That's about a day's drive.I just needed the cheerful, sweet-sharp strawberry thing. And now I'll dream of mangoes. Only another 4 0r 5 months to wait…
Punnet – a small box that is used to hold soft fruits (such as strawberries and blueberries). British. : a small basket for fruits or vegetables.
Wouldn't that have been a great Balderdash word?
Would have been? Given the condition of my memory, it still can be.
I really like the word, though. Because when I was little I pronounced "panties" "punnies" and that's what the whole family called them. And do to this day. Because we're Lutherans, and don't like the word "panties." Actually–and I really read this somewhere–no one likes the word "panties."
I've been on a strawberry binge for the past month. We're past the locally-grown ones now, but I still crave them to the point that I'm stopping at the produce market twice a week just for strawberries. I guess I should be glad it's not Twinkies or something.
Done up right, it's a lot like Twinkies or something.
The Hoods are done now. When they come in season, I eat whole flats of them. Can't grow them to save my life, though.
I'm perversely glad to hear it. And after all, isn't it good to support the local economy?
Yes, go to the store and buy a pint of Hoods.
We get those California berries here in Australia. I bought them once and never again. You're right, they were "tasteless red pulp around white cardboard hearts". They LOOK lovely and that's all.
I don't seem to be able to grow strawberries either. The most I ever harvested was three teeny tiny blobs of sweet red juiciness.
The California berries are sort of like winter tomatoes. There's no point in getting them.
Off my twelve plants I get twenty berries-somehow event he math seems wrong.
That's not really lavish, is it? Maybe this is harder than it appears.
Guess you will just have to find someone who is successful and has an over abundance of the berries and take some off her hands.
I tried for years, also. No luck. Thankfully there's a nice happy medium (or possibly large or small .. depending on your area) between home grown and the supermarket.. farmers' markets fit the local berry bill for me.
I take the easy route, Murr. My mother didn't call me Lazy for nothing during my formative years. When you love the strawbs, there's no substitute for slacking and heading straight for the 6-cylinder, hitting the gas to the local fruit provider, and gorging yourself on your plunderings. Meet you there in about twenty?