Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dreaming of strawberries

We ate some very nice looking but poor tasting strawberries this morning. I think of all store-bought produce, strawberries have got to be about the worst as far as looking tempting but tasting bland - or worse, moldy even though I don't see any mold. In the winter I feel good about my shopping cart when it is filled mostly with produce, usually apples, oranges, bananas, scallions and broccoli. In the summer it is the opposite- I try not to buy any vegetables but occasional corn or avocados. There is always that tinge of guilt knowing how many fossil fuel miles are in most all our groceries up here. My excuse is my sanity, my health and that I'm feeding small children. My kids love bell peppers, cucumbers, peas. Noah is in a phase where he loves asparagus but is tired of broccoli and beets. Avery is the opposite, doesn't like the asparagus, but enjoys beets daily. If we were trying to eat just what is in season around here, or what we stored, it would be slim pickings. I'm out of our own onions, garlic and potatoes, beets, carrots and squash. We are down to bags of frozen kale, frozen broccoli, frozen vegetable soups and frozen tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and canned green beans. We all like variety. We mostly prefer our vegetables fresh and lightly cooked. I guess it comes down to, while I aspire to grow a large portion of our own food, and while I would like to be able to be self-sufficient if needed, I'll be taking advantage of all the fossil fuel laden foreign looking produce while I can -especially while trying to feed children real food- and as many vegetables as possible.

Now, I'm dreaming of my own strawberry patch. Last summer we planted a three foot by fifteen foot bed of established Toklat perennial strawberries. I'm thinking that if my entire garden space was strawberries it  wouldn't be enough. There are too many fruits I cannot grow here. Strawberries are not one of the them. We are just beginning to purchase and plant berries and fruit trees here. Last summer we bought an apple and a crab apple tree along with a couple plum trees. We also dug a trench and planted some Boyne raspberries. For this summer I've ordered some golden raspberry canes, a black and white currant bush, a couple Nanking cherry trees and a couple Saskatoon bushes. I'm trying venture into what should actually do well here instead of dwelling or putting my efforts into fruits that are marginal here. Mostly, I'm excited about strawberries. I wonder how I can keep the kids from eating them all before they even ripen? Cloth covers maybe?

On a side note, my son saw a picture in a kid's book of a cross section of a loaf of wonder bread, and he asked me what it was - he didn't recognize that it was bread.  Avery pulled out some candy out of a pocket of Noah's old rain coat. I think it was leftover and forgotten from the parade last summer. I was able to take it away from her and quickly stash it, as she didn't know what it was - didn't realize it was candy. I am relieved that my kids are not obsessed with candy or junk food - yet.


Jewel said...

You might check out hardy kiwi's too, they can survive to -40 degrees. I have 2 different varieties, Kolomitka and Ananasnaya, you would need a male and female. They are also beautiful vines for the garden, and their fruit keeps through most of the winter.

Emily said...

Thanks Jewel, I've got some friend's around the corner that have a couple that have wintered over - although I think they've maybe gotten a fruit off it. Certainly something I'd like to try at some point. There are some other hardy cherries, some hardy pears and I've heard of a guy with some hardy apricots nearby. At some point I'd like a small orchard- but I'm not sure how long we'll be here on this piece of land. So I'm hoping for plants that produce significant yields in the next few years- the apples and plums don't fit into that category.

Denise said...

I totally agree about strawberries being the most disappointing fresh produce in the store. I got suckered as well. Rats! We have a big strawberry patch we put in last year, and it produced a little for us. It's right next to our rhubarb ... come on summer!!!f

Anonymous said...

Obessed with candy and junk. Honeslty your going to make them 'obsessed" by freaking out about it. Everything in moderation is the key to healthy living. Not saying their bodies need it, just saying relax.

Emily said...

Anonymous, I agree with moderation but not for everything. Just because a child finds a piece of candy, or wants candy doesn't mean they should get it right then and there. There is a time and place for everything. Two year old's don't need candy, especially when they are thrilled with simpler and healthier sweets. My kids have yet to throw tantrums in the store because they don't expect me to bribe them with sugar to keep them pacified. We are raising intelligent and responsible eaters and consumers. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just found this blog when I was doing a search for Toklat strawberries. I hope your orchard experiment is going well.

We did experiment with some different fruits in Anchorage growing up. Strawberries certainly did well, as did raspberries, though I believe we grew Latham. The golden ones have always been marginally hardy even outside the interior.

Blackcurrants didn't seem to have the problems with sawfly like gooseberry and other currants. Serviceberry does well. Have you ever tried lingonberry, aka lowbush cranberry? It's a very hardy native plant that grows well in poor soils.

There is also a very hardy floricane blackberry out of northern Maine called Fort Kent King. It has survived zone 3 winters up there, but it is hard to find. Fedco is the only place I have found that has online sales. Worth looking into.

On the note of perennial food plants, have you ever tried walking onions in your area of the state? I know they have been reportedly grown outdoors in the interior.