Urban Homesteading: Bountiful Berries

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt
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Just a year ago I planted seeds and seedlings in new raised garden beds. In one triangle (8 feet on all sides) I nestled in 12 June-bearing strawberry plants. They looked small and inconsequential in the big, straw covered bed. I hoped they would put out runners and perhaps this spring produce enough berries for a good strawberry shortcake dinner.

Ha! Would you look at this bed now! We doubled the size of the bed this spring, making a bit of a lopsided triangle, and transplanted some of the young plants that had taken root in the grass outside the bed. I actually mowed down a dozen such starts last year when the runners were at their peak.

Now with warm weather and cloud watering, the original bed has exploded with large-lobed leaves and blossoms on 6-inch stems. Small green nubbins of strawberries are starting to develop. This weekend I plan to purchase some garden netting to discourage the hungry squirrels from eating the ripe berries (I’m anticipating a phenomenal harvest). My mouth waters just musing on the potential!

The other phenomenal producer in the yard this year is the large silver maple that has its roots in the neighbor’s yard, but graciously shades our house with a large horizontal branch that stretches the full width of the house. There must be a million maple seeds that have twirled their way into every corner of the yard — it is amazing the bountiful abundance of this maple tree. Last evening, we swept them up in the driveway and easily collected 10 gallons.

Just imagine the potential in all those seeds — acres of silver maples providing homes for birds and squirrels, oxygen for all the fauna, leaves for compost and shade for whomever seeks it. And that’s from just one half-grown tree in one yard in one town in one state … You get the picture.

So, while I’m scooping up fallen seeds, consigning them to the rubbish bin and eventually a covered landfill, I await with great anticipation the ripening of just a few perfectly delicious, juicy strawberries to grace my breakfast table. YUM!