The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who's been helping me in the garden. He grew up in the Bronx and, let's just say, I'm starting from scratch teaching him everything. He came into my kitchen and reported that he'd found some strawberries on the ground and kept looking up to see where they fell from. Sheepishly, he then confessed he realized they were growing ON the ground. He's a fast learner! I thought it was hysterically funny and we all laughed about it. After all, he logically explained that most fruits do grow on trees.
But then, later that week, I had a friend over and she seemed surprised to see how the strawberries were growing. She wondered how I was growing them without any fertilizer, too. I guess what seems normal to us gardeners may seem magical to people who've never seen it before. But the truth is, it is magical.
This year I am blessed with an EPIC strawberry crop. My 15-year-old came in with a full bowl of them and said it was humanly impossible to harvest them all. I am writing this blog in procrastination because I am going to go out and harvest them all and then put them on cookie sheets and freeze them (and then put them into freezer bags or probably jars because, damn it, I forgot to get freezer bags at the grocery store).It's all Reds Bailey's fault--it was his idea. I designed this awesome, amazing compost pile hidden behind a berm of soil so that from the house and yard it just looks like nature, but from behind it looks like the functional super-duper compost pile structure system that it is. But alas, how to landscape it? He suggested strawberries. He even found them and planted them. And now...it's strawberry-palooza out there. This is the second year of them. Last year they were too young to produce much. And I know that they won't be this productive forever, but holy cow, these babies are beautiful and perfect. I'm going to freeze them and use them in smoothies all summer and winter long.
So the truth is, I'm not really complaining and I'm thankful to Reds. And just in case you really are wondering where strawberries come from, I've included a few pictures. They grow on little plants on the ground. No straw required.
Postscript: I did go out and pick two giant bowls, and still there are too many left to pick or count. Here is what I learned, however: Really ripe strawberries actually make a popping sound when you pull them off. And when you eat a really ripe strawberry, it's red all the way through.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com