People often ask
"is it much work, this growing vegetables lark" - and usually my response is:
"Once you've set it up, if you keep on top of the weeds, it's not too bad. Planting the seeds and harvesting can take up a bit of time, but on the whole it's as much or as little as you want to spend on it."
And then I have a day like yesterday when I'm reminded that a whole day can be taken up on one job alone - like tidying up the strawberry beds.
It's a job I've been putting off for a while now, mostly due to the weather, but when I woke up yesterday morning and saw that the sky was a dazzling shade of blue, I found myself really looking forward to spending some time in the garden.
The particular strawberry patch I'd earmarked had been started off in the late spring of this year and filled entirely with runners taken off of the strawberries given to me by a friend last year in another patch.
By July each new plant was full of fruit - we not only had strawberries every day for the month, but were also able to make 14 jars of jam to remind ourselves over the winter months of our tasty summer fruit crop. The flavour from this particular Cambridge variety was unlike anything ever purchased from a supermarket. However, the crop came to an end and I knew I would have to tidy it up.
We'd planted each little plant into holes cut into weed proof membrane which turned out to be a blessing. The weeds didn't take over, the fruit was protected from the mostly wet soil and the runners put out had nowhere to put down their roots so were easy dealt with. However, it was still a full day's work (in between providing meals, tackling the bulging washing basket, dealing with children's water fights and worrying about Ian who'd decided to fix the roof of the house and was balanced precariously on a roof ladder).
The good news is that as a result of my efforts, I now have about 150 new little strawberry plants waiting to be shared out amongst friends and put into another bed I'm planning on preparing for next year's harvest. The not so good news is that I still have the older parent bed to tackle, hopefully while the sun is still shinning...... anybody want any strawberries??