Some friends of ours moved out of state this week, and generously offered to let us pick the strawberries that were left ripening in their garden before the new homeowners arrive in a few days. The berries would just rot otherwise.
We’ve had so much rain over the past couple weeks that I was afraid the strawberries would all be ruined, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for enough berries to at least make some strawberry jam.
When I woke up this morning, the sun was peaking through an overcast sky. I knew it would rain later in the day so I quickly got all of the kids out of bed, gave them breakfast, and we scooted out the door to get the strawberries picked before the weather decided to go bad on us.
Our friends only lived about five minutes down the road from us, so we didn’t have far to travel. It was kinda sad walking around their abandoned property, seeing all of the hard work they’d put into their place and knowing somebody else would be living there shortly. Their blueberry bushes were loaded with unripe berries, their asparagus bed going to seed, and their strawberry patch bursting with bright red strawberries.
I couldn’t believe how prolific their strawberry plants were! Unfortunately, most of the berries had begun to mold and weren’t salvageable. We were able to harvest about a gallon of good berries, which is enough to make jam, so I’m very pleased about that.
My friend also gave us permission to cut the runners from her plants to transplant to our garden. So after the children and I picked all the good berries we could find, I went along the rows and clipped off the runners.
I won’t have time to make strawberry jam this week, so when we got back home I prepared the strawberries for the freezer. I washed them, cut out the hulls (the center stem part), removed any bad spots, halved or quarter the larger berries, drained them well, and then put them in a large ziploc bag to keep in the freezer. When I get some time I’ll take them out of the freezer and turn them into jam.
Once I was done processing the strawberries, it was time to get the runners into the ground before they dried out. First I had to clear out one of our raised beds that wasn’t planted yet to make room for the new plants. Once most of the weeds were pulled, I covered the bed with thick, black plastic to discourage any more weeds from growing, cut holes in the plastic where the plants would go, then I stuck each runner into the soil and held them down with landscaping staples*.
Hopefully they’ll do well in their new home!
As luck would have it, the rain held off until I’d gotten all of my planting done. I’m grateful for the rain, I really am. But can we space out the showers a little more… please? Two weeks straight of torrential downpours is really more than we need!
I’m glad we have our gardens in raised beds or we probably would have lost everything by now. Raised beds allow for better drainage than our native clay soil, so there isn’t any standing water to drown the roots of our plants.
I’d actually had other things planned to do today, but I’ve learned that you can’t really plan your days when you’re homesteading. Had I waited just a day longer to pick these berries, the harvest would have been lost by then. Nature determines your priorities when you live on a homestead. If she says it’s time to harvest something, you’d better stop whatever else you’re doing and “get while the gettin’s good”!
The kids enjoyed picking with me. Of course, getting to snack as you go is a nice perk! They’re already asking when we can go pick strawberries again. We look forward to having a large strawberry patch of our own one day!
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