It isn’t summer unless there are strawberries. On pavlova, in champagne, with camembert and rocket and balsamic vinegar, on pancakes and in smoothies.
The trouble is, although we can buy many plastic boxes of them at very cheap prices in the supermarkets, they all have a generic, pale taste. Yes they are big and perfect – at a cost to flavour.
What I want are the strawberries from when I was a kid and Mum grew a patch of them down by the chook pen. We would wander in, barefoot and brown, and pick and munch away on delicious, juicy berries. Occasionally, we would disturb a bobtail lizard who shared our taste in strawberry heaven, and he would hiss at us and waddle off to find a cool, safe spot. But mostly we would have the patch to ourselves – taking payment in kind when mum asked us to pick a bowl full for dinner - one for the bowl, one for us. I don’t know what Mum fed them, but I guess it was just chook manure and lots of water.
Last year I bought 5 strawberry plants. I planted them in those half round wire baskets and hung them along the fence outside my kitchen window. I had visions of strawberries hanging over the edges, red and ripe and juicy. Wildlife always seems to be drawn to strawberries and between the possums and rats they all but disappeared. I did manage to eat a few while I did the watering and they were so sweet and tasty. Small, but just how strawberries should taste.
When the plants did their reproducing at the end of summer, I planted all their little runners into smaller pots. I now have about 20 plants ready for this summer. Trouble is, I don’t have any real space for them, and I don’t want to hang them near where the rats and possums can get them again. I also want to plant them in deeper soil as during the long hot summer we get, I had to water them twice a day to shop them drying out.
There is an old broken down wheelbarrow that I salvaged (much to Mr K’s disgust) from the bring-out-your-dead rubbish collection a few years ago. Last year I grew rocket in it. I think it will make a good strawberry bed. I might even paint it white and make a feature of it. Yep. That’s a good weekend project right there. Might go check out Pinterest for some inspiration!
Do you have memories of summer and fruit? Does tasting something take you back to your childhood?