Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Uninvited Guests

One perk that often comes with community gardening is the free plants that you can get out of the deal. No, I'm not referring to perennial divides or seed giveaways, but the unintended gift of volunteers that grow in your plot, either from scattered seeds or runners. One gift that we have received has been the strawberries originally planted by Asa, who gardens in an adjacent plot. She has apologized several times for this invasion.

Why apologize for a volunteer when we are busy anyway, pulling out weeds and thinning out seedlings? In the case of strawberries, perhaps because of their viral nature. They're the guests that won't leave, and by letting them in, you are leaving the door open for more. Ours hopped the fence two years ago, and this year the party has been in full swing.

I believe that what we have growing in our plot is one of the June Bearing varieties, because they bear large fruit in June and send out many runners. Another variety bearing small but intensely sweet berries is intermingled and yields fruit around the same period.

The strawberries have claimed a significant portion of our plot, stretching out from our neighbor's border in the shape of a camel's hump. I've taken to yanking out the runners that have ventured beyond this area, in order to make room for my tomatoes, basil, green peppers and zinnias, but I'm sure some are still lurking under my coreopsis and blanket flowers. I'm not sure what else to do; I'm not concerned about killing them off. They are hardy plants that can withstand being stepped on and they will return despite the pulling.

The area of our little patch is about 12 square feet, and I estimate our total yield to be at least eight pints. My daughter and I snacked on so many of them as we harvested that I wouldn't trust that figure. We were sorry to have picked the last fruit about two weeks ago, but we'll continue to make room for these guests (to a certain amount) for years to come.


Bryan said...

When June-bearing strawberries are in, you can get vast quantities. When I lived in the suburbs, I found that I had so many that I took the excess to work with me and kept a bowl on my desk so that anyone who came to my office could (and did) eat one or two or more. When I moved to the country, I started a new strawberry bed. I had a few the first year, but after that squirrels ate them faster than I could pick them. A couple of years of using part of my garden for plants but not getting the fruit and I pulled up all the strawberries and planted more lettuce, which is of no interest to squirrels (groundhogs are a different story).

Sally said...

We had the same problem with squirrels eating our strawberries in our backyard, and I heard from one of the gardeners at the MSG report that hers were being eaten as well. With all of the squirrels in JP, I don't know how we lucked out! Thanks for the comment.