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...


Anonymous said…
Beautiful description of the gardening process, Jo. My husband won't let me pull out plants that are doing well, even if they are overtaking and killing all the other plants like your strawberries. He feels sorry for the plants. Actually even if they are dying I am not allowed to pull plants out. He says, "But they've been trying. Don't kill them. Give them another chance." Makes for interesting gardening.

Maybe if you reclaim your lawn slowly, widening your garden bed bit by bit? So no one notices?
Jo said…
What a very nice husband you have Lucinda. Clearly too nice to be a gardener. Gardeners need to have a bit of serial killer in their psyche..

And yes, I have tried the reclamation technique of getting rid of lawn in the front garden very successfully. Over a period of several years it went from all lawn to no lawn. Unfortunately the family noticed, and now they are on to me.
hilarious post! have you thought about a strawberry planter. more a vertical thing than horizontal so it saves space. we never had any joy with blueberries but our straws do well x x
Jo said…
What sort of planter would that be? We have a strawberry pot that holds about 5 plants, but that wasn't enough - we found our strawberry jungle of about 100 plants was just right, apart from their evil, blueberry eating habits..
take over the lawn - go on know you want to
Heather said…
I only wish my strawberry plants would do so well. I am such a hit- and-miss gardener. My strawberry plants only give off a few berries each season and then die. As for blueberries, the birds in the garden usually take all of those, because I am too lazy to buy a net every year. Maybe the reason my gardening is so hit-and-miss is because I need to get more serious about it. I get all pumped up in the beginning of Spring and then it gets so hot in the Summer that I can't even stand to be outside. My poor plants. They deserve better.
Jo said…
Heather, I think it is much nicer to garden in a temperate climate like we have. Maybe that's why the English are such a great gardening nation. I don't cope well with the heat at all, but we are having hot weather here right now, so I am gardening after dinner until it gets dark. The children have to fend for themselves, or come and join me, which they sometimes do.

Michele, I SOOO want to; you are an evil temptress!
I've always wanted a strawberry patch and have dreams of converting our front yard into one--if only the Man would let me! I also have dreams of converting the front yard into a field of lavender ... I have lots and lots of dreams for my front yard, and only lack the time, money and family cooperation to make them all come true.


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