Thursday, June 27, 2013

Strawberries and Gooseberries

I got a little more preserving done today. I made another batch of egg rolls to use up the last of the Chinese cabbage. I succeeded. My fridge seems so much more open without all that Chinese cabbage sitting around. Though I still have the regular cabbage. At least it keeps longer in the fridge. I also harvested some peppermint and dehydrated it. Luckily the weather forecast for the day was much cooler with scattered rain mostly in the afternoon so I could spend some time actually in my garden. I just can't make myself go out in those 90 degree days. Especially when it is humid.

The big chore for the day was to deal with my strawberry plants along the rock wall garden. So of course my neighbor Astro wanted to join in. But he was stuck behind the fence. I ended up petting him a couple of time while I was working. This section is the plum tree section. I had lush Earliglow strawberries along the side.
But in the front there was nothing. That section got way too dry. Between the lack of rain last year, the lack of a working irrigation system, and the plum tree roots, they just couldn't live there. Hopefully I'll keep it better watered this year with the soaker hoses.
This was half of the fig tree section that has the Sparkle berries. As you can see they could care less about water and competing with a tree.
This is the other half of the fig tree section. The Seascape berries couldn't even survive the edges. So I pulled all the Seascapes. I don't need a berry that can't produce. I also don't like it since it is an ever bearer. I like to put up bird netting to protect the berries, but I hate it being up all year long. I like having the fruit change with the seasons. Right now I'm picking raspberries and gooseberries. And the blueberries are just starting to ripen. Then the peaches and apples will come. I know I have figs, plums, and pears too, but harvesting anything from them looks iffy or a long way off so I'm not counting them.

Anyway they got pulled out. I amended the soil with some compost and fertilizer. Then started digging out some of those over crowded Sparkle plants to go there. I don't want the strawberries to grow along the back of the bed. It is too hard to cover the strawberries to keep the birds and squirrels out. I just want one row along the front. And I only wanted one solitary plant for each foot. Now Sparkle will ignore me unless I keep on top of it. Both my varieties are very vigorous with runners. But I'm going to try to keep them from getting too crowded for better production. I'm going to have to go out and pull them ever couple of weeks.

Next up was the apple and pear section of the rock wall garden. This is new this year. Last year it was a sick asparagus bed. Now it has espalliered trees like the rest of this garden. But until today it didn't have any strawberries. I did put a few flowers into the bed. So I planted the strawberries in between the flowers, but still in the front. This time I used all the excess Earliglow. I didn't finish the whole section. I figure some runners will fill in the holes.

Then I mulched with some salt marsh hay and watered it all in well. I still hadn't gotten to the plum tree section, but I was exhausted. So I started to go in for a rest. I didn't get in however - well except to get some containers. I noticed that my gooseberries had started to ripen. The Tixia was starting to blush and the Invicta had turned a slight yellow (which green gooseberries get when they ripen). So I picked. Last year I loved the Invicta and the Hinnomaki Red. The Tixia didn't produce last year. The Invicta has large green tart berries that taste good and cooks quite well and is easy to process because of its fruit size. Its thorns are vicious however. You have to be very careful when picking.

The Hinnomaki Red has smaller berries. It is very productive it is good cooked and eaten out of hand. The taste is divine. I didn't pick the Hinnomaki since I want it to be dead ripe which it might be next week. Many gooseberries are picked before they ripen totally since they have a really in your face tart flavor that way. They aren't eaten raw that way, but are cooked.

Last year I didn't really prune the branches much. There weren't many branches. They say to prune out the ones on the ground, but that is all I really had so I didn't. This year the bushes are much larger. So I got my pruning shears and pruned off all the ground based branches on the two I harvested.

They look much better now. And their fruit next year won't be dripping on the ground. I do have a few war wounds though. I swear Invicta's thorns are out to get me. I ought to do it wearing leather head to toe to protect myself.

I taste tested my Trixia for the first time. Ick. I'm not saying it tastes bad. But compared to my other two it just isn't worth it. I thought it was watery. It was billed as a bush with very large berries (true), very productive (not for me), excellent taste (not so much) and semi thornless (well I didn't notice bad thorns, but nothing compares to Invicta with thorns). So I'm going to have to rip it out. Sigh. I'll replace it with another Hinnomaki Red. The branches lying on the ground have rooted in spots and when I pick that bush I'll dig up a part and use that was a replacement.

After that I came in for my rest and my friend who was making a huge dragon for our house called. The dragon was done. And if you didn't know dragons are my husbands animal. He has always loved them. It isn't the only dragon we own. Our doorbell is in the form of a dragon too. I keep looking for a dragon for my garden too. I envision a Chinese dragon "swimming" in the soil, with several sections that come above. I still haven't found one.

I had a nice cooling lunch. Though the temperature only got to 75F I was hot and sweaty. The air was like soup. And I have to say those carrots were to die for. This is my first week picking them and oh so good. Usually summer carrots are slightly bitter, but not these.

Then I finally got out and finished up the strawberry bed. I hope they grow and give me more strawberries than this year. This year I only got 6 pounds of berries. Last year I got 22.6 pounds in the same space. If I keep them healthy (read watered). I ought to be able to get even more. I missed my strawberry smoothies. There will be no strawberry ice cream. And no strawberry rhubarb crisp made from the frozen berries. Ah well. I do have jam. And I got some in my cereal during the season. I guess that is something. Strawberries are not something that can be neglected if you want a good harvest.


  1. Hi! You certainly keep busy heat or no heat! You should get a lot of strawberries from all those! My new little 4x4 foot bed has developed quite a few runners. Don't know quite what to do about that. You make Gooseberrys sound good! I hope your hubby likes the dragon! I am not too sure about having one in my house! LOL The carrots on your lunch plate do look yummy. Boiled, steamed or microwaved?

  2. Gardening can be a full-time job, can't it? Especially if you want to keep everything in good condition. I hope your dragon brings the garden good Feng Shui or whatever!

  3. How about a loch ness monster instead?

  4. So sorry to hear about the strawberries. I hope you have a better year. The watering system should help.

  5. I think Invicta should be renamed Inflicta - ouch! You've got such a nice variety of fruits. My few fruit trees really struggle to get established in my crappy native soil, but they are doing better this year with a good compost mulch and more attention to watering. Amazing what a little extra attention will do...

  6. I have a Gooseberry bush in my garden for 3 years now and I still have no berries :( I get flowers but no berries. Your plants look beautiful.