Tag Archives: strawberries

STRAWBERRIES OBLIVIOUS TO PAIN

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with a painful pinched nerve that has given me sleepless nights, doctor visits, uncomfortable steps and one trip to the emergency room.

But try telling that to the garden.

While I have been down and almost out, the garden has continued its progress. The beans are starting to cling to the fence; the cucumbers are spreading on their hills; the corn plants are swirling out of the ground.

I limp, but the plants stand strong. I can’t squat and pick, but the strawberries continue to ripen. The garden needs daily attention that my body has been unable to provide. But my children and the Green Thumbs have come to the rescue.

On many afternoons as I have moved uncomfortably around the house, my sons have gone after school to check on the garden.

They return with reports such as, “We raked all the rows,” or “We decided not to water because it rained yesterday.”

They tell me who they see when they visit — our neighbors, the garden angel who coordinates the community project, other Green Thumbs.

One afternoon, they helped fellow gardeners plant more rows of peppers. On a weekend visit, they helped water the garden after one of the Green Thumbs fertilized the plants. They posted an American flag in the garden.

In addition, they have come home with containers full of strawberries. My oldest son has a special bowl that he likes to fill with the harvest because its bottom fits just right in the car cup holder, which prevents the generous amounts of berries from tipping over as he drives home.

Twice, he has spontaneously offered Solo cups full of the freshly-picked red fruit to others. One cup went to a farmer who shared her spinach, onions and radishes with our family. Another cup went to a friend who helped my son plant azaleas.

My youngest son added some of the strawberries that he and his brother picked to a spinach salad that we took to a cookout on  Memorial Day weekend.

Watching them enjoy and share the harvest makes me feel like I’m missing out. I want to dig in the dirt and be a part of what’s growing, too.

My sons plan to pick more strawberries and tend to the garden again this afternoon before they tackle their homework.

My pinched nerve still bothers me. I can’t squat or lift, and I’m not sure if I can rake. But I’m pretty sure I can stand and hold a water hose. So I’m going with them to the garden today to do my small part.

The strawberries won’t wait for me to heal, but observing their beauty and tasting their juice just might be the best medicine for my pinched nerve. The visit to the garden itself should make me feel better. Hopefully, I’ll be back to picking and weeding soon because, like the strawberries, the vegetables in the garden won’t pause for pain either.

–cawk

GARDENS A BLANK CANVASS

11046938_10206891918402982_6704605850384257942_ncommunity gardenLast week, snow blanketed the fields so much that no one would have known our strawberry patch existed in SNOW AND GARDEN 048the community garden.

But this week, after a spurt of milder weather, the flakes have melted away to reveal the plants once again.

The plant leaves look mostly burned and brown, similar to the blades of grass on my lawn. But today, after a steady rainfall, dots of green are trying to emerge among the strawberries, and I can see tints of emerald emerging,mostly on my neighbors’ lawns.

Green is such a beautiful color. Blue is also nice. Our lone blueberry bush is producing buds.

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For now, these are just dots of color on a blank canvas of dirt. But in about a month, the soil will be tilled and gardeners will begin to add plants and seeds, flowers and gnomes, fences and compost bins, water tanks and watering cans. The dots and splashes of color will come together like an impressionist’s painting. And the curious will ride slowly by to see what we’ve created.

Hopefully, some of the onlookers will join us and rent their own spots. The goal is to produce healthy food, but the gardens traditionally paint a picture of beauty as well as bounty.

–cawk

STRAWBERRY TASTE TEST

I recently went with my friend to pick strawberries at a local farm. The color and scent of the berries were tremendous. She went home with three plastic containers full for her family, and I filled up a bucket and a mixing bowl for mine.

 

After transporting the fruit home, I spent a few hours washing, topping, slicing and freezing about 5 quarts of the juicy red berries and saved some to share with my sons for their after-school snack.

 

Before they arrived home on the bus, I also scooted to the community garden that we share with three other families and picked a few of our own strawberries. Because they were damaged by a recent hail storm, the harvest was puny, but I did find three plump berries ready to pick.

 

When the kids came home from school, they plopped their book bags on the floor and headed straight to the kitchen.

 

“What’s for snack?” asked my ninth grader, who was washing his hands at the sink.

 

“Oooooh, strawberries,” said my observant sixth grader, who admired the red berries I had saved.

 

“It’s a taste test,” I said.

 

On one set of saucers, I offered them each a berry from our garden. On a separate set of saucers, I placed a berry from the pick-your-own stand.

 

The results were inconclusive.

 

I favored the farm stand berry. My sixth grader liked the community garden berry. And my ninth grader couldn’t tell a difference between the two.

 

Although this unscientific experiment produced indecisive results, two facts remained. All three of us like the taste of fresh, local strawberries, and we need to pick more.

 

–cawk

WINDS STRONG, PLANTS STRONGER

   Visiting the Green Thumb community garden last week, I was totally blown away.

   It wasn’t the growth of the plants that blew me over – none of the seeds have produced any sprouts. It wasn’t the beauty of our spot – the plot is pretty much a boring rectangle of brown dirt at the moment.

    It was the steady 30 mile-per-hour winds that nearly knocked me over as I stood gazing by the fence.

    The pipes of the wind chimes in the nearby tree were flipping noisily and clanging into each other. The swirling dust stung my throat and eyes. And the pie pans we had hung over the line of last year’s strawberries had broken loose. All but two of the silver dishes were scattered and tossed throughout the flat rows of the garden.

   I’ve always considered strawberry plants fragile. But the ones in our garden were already flowering. The dainty white petals that will turn into seeded red berries flopped and fluttered with the wind gusts but didn’t fall apart. The green spinach leaves that are easily snapped off for salad bounced and waved but didn’t cave to the elements. The stick branches of our lone blueberry bush remained sturdy and didn’t curl or break.

   As I stood getting slapped with the cold air, I realized how strong plants have to be to survive the weather and what an amazing job roots do anchoring the growth in the soil.

–cawk