It was last spring that we decided that we couldn’t, on a sun-challenged property, waste the sunny spot right in front of our house on a table and chairs. We opted for full-frontal gardening, and built two raised beds where the patio furniture used to be.
Those of you who visit this space regularly know that I am not a natural gardener. I have no rapport with plants. I find no joy in soil. I’m just in it for the food. So it was with strawberries in mind that we leveled ground, built beds, and imported soil. It was labor. It was drudgery. It was a pipe dream of sweet red drippy ripe berries some time in the hazy distant future.
Once we got the plants in, we put hoops and netting over the beds, because a love of strawberries is the one common thread that all species on this planet share. There would be peace on earth and goodwill toward men if only we had enough strawberries.
But not our strawberries. The few we harvested last year were sour and flat-flavored. When fall came, and the plants were exhausted, we covered the beds with straw with hopes for better luck next year.
That’s this year and, in May, the foliage came in lush and green. But it’s an incontrovertible gardening truth that there’s no correlation between foliage and fruit. Big shiny green leaves could mean a healthy plant with fruit on its way, or it could mean lopsided nutrition that led the plant to devote all its energy to foliage, and none to berries.
I waited, and I watched. There certainly seemed to be lots of berries, and about a week ago they started to blush. Against my better judgment, I harbored hope.
Yesterday, I picked the first bowlful. And damned if they weren’t everything a strawberry should be. Flavor and smell, acid balanced with sweet. No woody white core. No mealy texture. Because I have no rapport with plants, I know it’s just blind luck, but I’ll take it.
By god, we have strawberries.