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Strawberry Love by Stephie McCarthy

The Strawberry Patch, Delicious Hacks

by Stephie McCarthy

Strawberries Antique Cup ©StephieMcCatrhy

Straight rows and fresh plants each year are
sensible ideas we abandoned long ago
in our strawberry patch. Ours berries have been
naturalized for fourteen years, inter planted with
flowers, grass, clover, and fern and they've done well
… with a little help.

Strawberries straw hat ©StephieMcCarthy

In a good year without too much rain, we pick
a hat full a day from about 30 plants. We eat berries
as fast as we pick them for around two weeks
and sometimes have a quart for the freezer.

Strawberries RubberDuck ©StephieMcCarthy

Why grow your own? When you taste a fresh
strawberry from your own ground, you are
tasting a blend of minerals, plus the sweet and
flowery notes … something like a miracle in a mouthful.

Strawberries Foxglove ©StephieMcCarthy

BUT, a berry once bitten by a bug never does taste
quite as good as one that is perfectly whole.
Like when you cut fresh produce with a knife,
a bug bite starts a chemical reaction which
diminishes the flavor profile. To prevent that, we
invented a few ways to steer bugs away
from our berries.

Stop pests on strawberries ©StephieMcCarthy

Our pot trick:
Putting strawberries in a small flower pot with the fruit
dangling inside, hanging over the rim, makes it
difficult for crawling insects to reach
ripening berries. We use lots of empty pots all over the
garden to lift the berries into a safer space.

Strawberry bug prevention ©StephieMcCarthy

Dangling inside an empty pot makes berries out of reach. It works!

Make an easy flower pot bug lure:
Put kitchen scraps, especially sweet ones like
over-ripe fruit or fruit peels under flower pots or bowls.
Sprinkle the top of the scraps with
slug pellets. We use Sluggo brand which not only
destroys slugs and snails, but seems to get rid of
other pests like sow bugs, earwigs, and cut worms.
Sluggo is much safer to use around pets
than metaldehyde. Lure the pests away from your fruit!

Slug and bug lure ©StephieMcCarthy

Try lots of varieties of strawberries:
Strawberries comes in unique colors like
white, purple, yellow, blue, and black. Birds
often are too wary of these colors to eat them. If you
plant these around, you may changing their mind
about eating your red ones. Not to mention
they will surely impress your visitors.

Rare Strawberry colors

We've gotten very fond of growing alpine strawberries.
These are good to eat and also wonderful for
making whimsical and fragrant table arrangements.

Alpine strawberries Antique cup ©StephieMcCarthy

Growing alpine berries may lure the birds away from your bigger berries.

The birds seem to leave these alone, and when the big berries
ripen later, they may assume they are the same type and
leave them alone. It seems to be working!

Alpine Berries Baby Berry Patch ©StephieMcCarthy

But we've found that kids are unstoppable when it comes
to the strawberry patch. No surprise since I fell in love
with strawberries too when I was invited to the
neighbor's patch when I was just five years old.

Try growing strawberries indoors:
We brought a strawberry pot indoors one winter
and it began blooming by a sunny window in February, Zone 7.
We were thrilled!
By the way, our go-to remedy for spider mites is a lights spray of
diluted buttermilk. Works fantastically!

Strawberry Pot Indoors ©StephieMcCarthy

Our indoor strawberry pot in flower in February

What to do with a bounty of strawberries:
There are such a lot of things you can do with
strawberries, you would be amazed! Here's some of
the ways we found on Google images, all which we'd
love to try:

Picked Green Strawberries

Pickled green strawberries from Martha Stewart

• gourmet pickled green strawberries are high
on our list since we've learned the art of fermenting
our own food.

Strawberry recipe montage

more ideas for an abundance of berries

From left to right starting at the top: • press them into mini cheese cake
• whole in gelatin parfaits • jellied on ice cream cake • dried in tea
• layered with phyllo dough • added to spring water with herbs
• growing in a teacup • made into heart-shaped candy
• hollowed out and filled with jelly • sliced for the rim of a cake
• "butterflied" on cupcakes

Strawberry spring water herbs ©StephieMcCarthy

We've begun trying a few recipe variations. We added strawberries
to this water twice, spooning out the first batch as they turned white.
Refrigerated this 48 hours with mint and thyme sprigs. You
can also leave this at room temperature for hours as a
lovely and drink-able centerpiece.

Dried Strawberry Chamomile Tea ©StephieMcCarthy

These are dried strawberry slices in chamomile tea. You can steep
this in hot water or just leave it as a sweet smelling potpourri.

AND, here is our original recipe for Strawberry Paste:

Strawberry Paste by Stephie McCarthy

This is a great way to use up over-ripe berries. Dried with oil
for about 12 hours in a dehydrator or low oven, strawberry
can be used in many different recipes.

here is the bait we use to eliminate slugs and sow/pill bugs

buy Sluggo

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