Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Strawberries-to-be July 13, 2010

Filed under: berries,flora — greenwalks @ 1:13 pm
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The berry crops in the Pacific Northwest have suffered a lot from the cool, wet spring. What is merely annoying for the home gardener has been devastating for farmers. Every week, at the Farmers’ Market we frequent, we keep hearing sadder and sorrier tales. Cherry crops have been hit hard too, as well as many grains.

I’m not much good at growing fruit, but have always enjoyed having a few alpine strawberry plants scattered around the garden. I usually let my daughter harvest and eat the tiny berries as she finds the ripe ones – they never even make it into the house.

The haul was pretty pitiful this year, but there are more on the way now that the sun is (sometimes) out. I love seeing those bright white blossoms, knowing that they will be transformed in a short while into a treat for my girl. The birds have mostly left them alone, even though some are planted near our birdbath.

This shot is semi-blurry since it was evening when I took it, but you can see the flowers actually morphing into berries.

Alpine strawberries starting to grow

Do you grow berries? Are you getting to eat any this year?


Last Handful of Strawberries November 4, 2009

Filed under: berries,fall — greenwalks @ 7:25 pm
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Our early fall in Seattle was lovely – warm, sunny days and cool nights, perfect for easing the garden gently into its winter lull while preserving some of the most stunning colors and extending the food crops just a bit longer. My fall harvest of raspberries was even more pathetic than the spring one, so I might have to rethink their placement or figure out how to urge them on better next year. But the baby alpine strawberries and bigger ever-bearing ones hung on for a last little flush.

There are never more than a few out there at a time and my daughter gets most (okay, all) of them, unless they have already been discovered by a squirrel or bird (why do they always just peck one hole and then leave it?? So wasteful, those wild creatures!). This was the last handful, picked a few weeks ago, and they disappeared down the hatch in about 30 seconds.

Late fall handful of strawberries

There are still fresh berries in the grocery store, tiny portions packed in plastic and shipped up from California, prices too exorbidant to bear. For now, these precious jewels will be just a memory, and something to look forward to again next summer.

(PS Oh, wrote this last week and just noticed today that there are a few more ripe berries! One final gift of summer, but then that will be it.)


What to do with a Tiny Berry Haul August 5, 2009

Filed under: berries — greenwalks @ 5:09 pm
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Whoops, forgot to protect the new blueberry bushes from birds and other critters, they took almost everything when I was out of town for a few days. Ditto the raspberries and we only have a few alpine strawberries per bush anyway at this time of year. When we went out to see what was there for dessert the other night, we came away with a pretty pathetic crop, especially for three hungry people!

Ridiculously paltry berry haul

Yes, there were a few blackberries from the rogue vine that got missed during my spring clean-out of a rather wild area of the garden. I’ll probably regret letting it stay, but I can’t resist fresh blackberries right out my back door.

Hey mom, what do you think we should do with these berries, since we don’t have very many?

Berry deep thoughts

I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Berry sudden epiphany

Add a sprig of mint, an Italian crumble cookie from grandma, and a whole lotta ice cream (chocolate fig and honey pomegranate, in this case).

What to do with a tiny berry haul

Eat on the porch while watching and listening to the only whisper of rain in months:

A breath of rain

If you eat dessert and then go all wacky afterwards in the rain, is it a sugar fit or a rain dance? Both, in this case.

Rain dance

Happy mid-summer, all. Here, we are finally out of the worst of our heat, for the moment anyway! Feels so nice not to be HOT all the time anymore.


Streetberries, Winter Edition January 27, 2009

Filed under: neighborhood gardens,winter — greenwalks @ 9:41 am
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These bright red berries, still clinging to their vine in mid-winter, were hanging over a retaining wall near my house when I walked by the other day. Does anyone know what they are?


It seems odd that they would have been left by hungry birds and animals – maybe they can’t reach them (they’re halfway down a very high and otherwise bare cement wall). Or are they poisonous? I hope they’re not Deadly Nightshade berries – this garden is quite close to both a preschool and an elementary school which many kids walk to and from every day. Eek.

In any case, I did enjoy seeing a bit of color on an otherwise gray and frigid morning. It’s snowing here again today for the umpteenth time this winter – I guess we’re just going to have to get used to it (or move back to California!)


Black berries December 5, 2008

Filed under: shrubs — greenwalks @ 2:06 pm
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Sarcococca is one of the hardest-working shrubs suitable for shade that you could hope for. It’s evergreen, puts out cute little red berries in late fall that gradually turn a shiny black, and then in winter sends out stalks of tiny white flowers that perfume their surroundings with a delicate vanilla-y scent.

We had some in a remote spot of our previous garden and I never gave them a second thought. In fact, I admit I found them prosaic and dull, and usually failed to even notice their valiant attempts to provide seasonal interest. In our current space, we inherited a few sizable ones that are poorly sited (i.e. too much sun) and not all that happy – their leaves tend to yellow in the summer and it takes them all year to recover. One of these years, I’m going to get around to moving them to one of our few shady spots, but it didn’t happen this fall. Poor things, I hope they can take it for another year where they are!

Sarcococca berries changing to black

On a linguistically related but otherwise random note, on a whim I bought some freeze-dried blackberries at the food co-op the other day and my daughter, the finicky eater who has now stopped liking fruits in addition to veggies and pretty much everything else except boxed mac & cheese (argh!), LOVES them and delights in popping them in her mouth for a super satisfying sour crunch. I’m not sure what the carbon footprint indications of freeze drying are (maybe someone can enlighten me?), but I have to say that this is a really great way to get my kid to eat fruit in the winter without any preservatives or energy cost from the freezer. I just picked up some freeze-dried strawberries and mangosteen from Trader Joe’s and those have been a hit too. Gotta get our Vitamin C somehow!


Streetberries August 21, 2008

Here is proof that you CAN plant tasty berries in your parking strip, at least in my corner of Seattle, and you will probably have some left for yourself even after any greedy birds or humans have had a taste.

These folks have had a raspberry patch going in their hillside raised bed for a few years running. The canes are pretty tall, almost like a forest, and it seems like the berries are allowed to ripen largely unmolested:

Raspberry sidewalk

Late-summer blueberries fresh from the bush are one of life’s purest joys. But how to ensure that you have enough to put in a pie or at least on your cereal? Here is one street gardener’s solution: raised bed + stakes + netting = happy harvesting.

Protected blueberries

Finally, here is the bravest soul of all – a neighbor dug out a small patch of the parking strip grass and planted a strawberry bed. It’s ringed with a sweet basket-weave fence and gets a ton of sun. Do they get any berries? I hope so!

Street strawberries

Has anyone else tried raising such tempting treats on the street? How’s it going?