June 24, 2019
I planted my own strawberries last year and for all the work that went into it, I probably realized maybe a quart of perfect red berries that had not been pecked at by birds and ravished by chipmunks. So this year I was in attack mode and put a solar electric fence around the patch but I didn’t stop there because I also enclosed the entire patch in green netting. Smart. Like farmer MacGregor, I checked the patch every so often to see how things were going. All looked well, lots of white flowers came along followed by lots of white berries on their way to ripe-dom. Soon I calculated I would be picking my own fresh free from pesticides strawberries and doing my part for the environment. But before I could say strawberry shortcake, the chipmunks had munched their way through the netting and the fence and helped themselves to the best red berries and left the pale pink ones with white tops for me! The battle cry went out and I reinforced the netting making sure no holes were lurking where those critters could weasel their way in. But short of sleeping in the patch with one eye open, there is no way to prevent them from getting in. I got in my car and drove to the nearest local farm selling strawberries and bought two quarts to make my favorite strawberry tart. How do you keep out the chipmunks, I asked the farm owner? Easy. Plant enough for you and those little varmints he said and off I went to get more netting.
We should be in the thick of strawberry season, but with the rain and cold, strawberries are taking their time to ripen; a few tips when you do: make sure the berries are red all the way through. Nothing worse then white flesh strawberries that taste like just water. Be sure to pick the berries with their stems attached. Don’t pile them on top of one another but lay them on paper towel lined trays or sheets. Don’t refrigerate them too long because the cold affects the flavor. The season is all too short so get them while they last.