Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Heavenly Shadeberries

Friends, I generally strive to not be a braggart bore.  That is usually an easily-reached goal, because gardening in the Flint Hills doesn't allow me many opportunities for successful outcomes to brag about.  But I must, I simply must, take this opportunity to show you my $1000 strawberry patch.
Frequent readers are fully aware of my belief that on the seventh day, just before resting, God created strawberries to be the evolutionary apex of fruity perfection.  You also know that this past Spring, tired of my inability to oversummer and overwinter a decent stand of mature strawberry plants, I purchased and installed a 14'X24' shade house, as previously blogged, to protect my delicate young plants from the searing rays of the July and August Kansas sun.  I placed black plastic between rows at planting and laid down soaker hoses for watering.  Over the summer, I watered it about once a week, implanted the runners back into the rows, weeded incessantly and protected my pretties from man, insect, and beast.
The result of all that money and labor is shown here.  Even in the grower's Eden of my boyhood Indiana, I've never seen a patch of strawberries with so much promise.  I recently removed the shade cloth and put it up for the winter, both to protect the cloth and to allow the strawberries a little more October sunshine.   There are four varieties planted here, early and late, all June-bearers, laid out in rows that are two feet wide and two feet apart.  I would note that 'Earliglo' was the most vigorous, followed by 'Surecrop', 'Jewel', and 'Sparkle'. Now I get to spend all winter salivating over the promise of the red sweetness that will be mine next spring. 
I will, of course, also be worried all winter that I've jinxed myself by merely writing this bragging blog.  I'll cover them with straw in a month and pray to the Winter God that he doesn't make it too cold in January.  I'm going to leave the cover off until near harvest next year, and then I will place it on at the last moment so that I can savor the ripe strawberries in the shade (and perhaps keep the birds scared away).   If you need me next June, either day or night, look for me lounging peacefully amidst the colors and scents of heaven, stuffed to the gills with bursting red fruit.  I hope.

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