When I was a kid, my favorite part of gardening was harvesting! I loved digging for potatoes, pulling out carrots and picking blueberries. Of course, I had to eat a few berries or a carrot as I went along. They tasted so delicious, freshly picked. Forget about pies and jam, in my opinion there is nothing better than a handful of blueberries or one (or two or three) juicy strawberries enjoyed in the garden. My husband is of the same mind, although I’m not sure that he had much harvesting experience as a kid. Today, he enjoys picking a few berries, and later on cherry tomatoes, while he mows the lawn.
It is even a small ritual, harvesting the berries together. Even in our tiny garden, we have 6 blueberries, 50 strawberries, 3 grapes, 3 raspberries and an apple tree. Also, the neighbors planted a cherry tree and we figure anything that hangs over our fence is fair game. So right now we are loaded down with fruit. It is hard for me to know exactly when to stop buying fruit at the farmer’s market and grocery store. But we are managing to work our way through everything. Last year, I froze a lot. I had been planning on having protein shakes for breakfast. The frozen fruit works great for that, giving them a milkshake consistency. It seems like I have spent most of my life on a diet. My husband does well on a low carb eating plan but I have never been able to make that commitment. In the last 6 months, I have discovered I can stick better to an eating plan when I allow myself fresh fruit. Because of my fickle eating plan, I didn’t manage to work my way through all of last year’s harvest, so I still have a lot of frozen berries. This year I am concentrating on eating all of the harvest fresh. Freezing is the back-up plan. I have discovered a most delicious way to incorporate strawberries into the menu: spinach and strawberry salad. Fresh spinach, strawberries, nuts and onions with a poppyseed dressing. It is easy to prepare, simple and delicious. Yum. Click here for a copy.
Let’s be truthful. I didn’t get anything fertilized this year. The strawberries are showing the lack of fertilizer. They are tiny. Granted, I have not replanted in years. Traditionally, you are supposed to remove the original plants after 3-5 years and replant with runners or fresh plants. I brought home new plants this year but my hubby couldn’t bear to pull the old ones out, so we planted them elsewhere. I will say that my new ones aren’t very large either. They got a starter fertilizer but not a follow-up. Also, the strawberries are competing for water with the blueberries and apple tree. We have been watering but it has been a dry spring. The blueberries are extremely loaded with fruit. The heavy branches are actually hanging into the walkway. We cannot pass under our grape arbor without brushing the blueberries on either side. We’re not complaining. And neither are the birds that are enjoying a small share of the bounty. We have noticed what could be a lookout bird on the rooftop when we are out gardening. At least, romantically, that is what we think it is. Even though there are a lot of birds in our neighborhood, we still have a lot of berries and cherries. Unlike at the nursery, where the birds stripped the cherry tree before the cherries even ripened. We do have a lot of pie cherries, however.
Erica and Jim have gotten into fruit/veggie smoothies because of the influence of Jim’s daughter, Mattie. I thought I would include a recipe for a kale and blueberry smoothie. I have tasted it and it is palatable. If you’re trying to get your 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (and we are not counting pizza and french fries) by eating them for breakfast or a snack, this is a good way to go. They use blueberries, kale, strawberries &/or blackberries, almond milk (or coconut milk), almond butter, chia seeds and unsweetened yogurt. Erica and Jim don’t use a recipe, but there are numerous recipes on the internet. I especially liked the one that looked purple rather than green!
Finally, Kathy has assembled some great recipes for our Garden 2 Table classes that we had this year. Here is a link to them to give you some more ideas for how to use those fresh berries that are in abundance now.