The Dark Side of Strawberries
Every year I garden I learn something new, and this year's lesson was that strawberry plants are actually triffids. Two years ago I picked out the edge of my blueberry bed in a single row of tiny, innocent looking little strawberry plants. By the end of year one they had taken over the entire bed with their wicked runners, and by this year, the blueberry plants had disappeared.
Can you see the blueberry plant? No, me neither. It's under there somewhere, the poor wee thing. Now, I like strawberries as much as the next person, but it was a matter of strawberries next year, or blueberries for the next twenty years? I chose the blueberries.
The tallest, thinnest man I have ever seen delivered me some bales of pea straw from his farm, and I hardened my heart and ripped out all those strawberries (I swear I heard them screaming), and replaced them with lots of lovely dynamic lifter and blood and bone, and delicious pea straw. The poor little struggling blueberry plants emerged from the strawberry jungle, pale and haggard, like explorers lost in the wilderness. The photo above is taken from the exact same angle as the first one with the strawberries. See, it was under there all the time, quietly expiring. When I pulled all the strawberries out, the soil was bone dry, despite the fact that I have been watering every day. Those strawberries took all the moisture and the blueberries couldn't compete. And if there is one thing blueberries need, it's lots of water.
So what have I learned from this episode? That I must contain my desire to plant every inch of my small suburban garden, permaculture principles notwithstanding. But see that lovely expanse of green lawn. It is calling me, it is saying, 'Make me into a giant strawberry patch...' Can you hear its siren song? Of course you can. Now to persuade the other members of the family, the ones that inexplicably prefer lawn to food...