26 May 2011

Strategic gifting leads to strawberry goodness

Now some of you will look at me blankly (liars), others will try not to make eye contact, but the really honest ones will be nodding and grinning slightly sheepishly.

The Bourne Identity box set given to your Uncle on Christmas day in an attempt to avoid Dad's Army re runs; the over engineered enclosed headphones for your sibling who thinks that the whole world wants to hear *boom tish boom tish boom tish* emanating from their iPod; or the Nigella Lawson cook book given to your other half in the hope that you will awake at 3am to find them scantily clad and eating chocolate mousse straight from the fridge...

At one time or another we've all indulged in a little strategic giving...come on don't give me that look...fine, ride that moral high horse, but the rest of us know better.

Now I've never had much of a fondness for terracotta, but when I spotted that foot high urn, with strawberry plants poking out of the various orifices, I didn't exactly fall in love, but certainly wanted to take it home, feed it, care for it and then eat every last bit of delicious juicy strawberry goodness it could provide.

Being the kind well mannered son that I am, I thought that it would make a great Mothers day gift, my Mum being not particularly chuffed with cut flowers but very keen on things that are still alive.

So it spent the summer of 2009 in the garden, the strawberries were large, juicy, plentiful and shared out with anyone who happened to turn up at dinner time. As the colder weather set in, the Terracotta cracked, flaked and split, whilst the plants slept, indifferent to the charms of the British Winter.

Come Spring 2010, the plants were prized from what was left of the terracotta and redistributed around the flower beds - where they did what strawberries do best and spread out as much as possible, whilst the urn became a B and B for the local arachnid community.

A year on and the garden is being redesigned, overgrown beds cleared, hedges cut down to a more manageable height and strawberries corralled back into pots.

Now don't get me wrong, they were doing fine in the beds, but spending more of their time being eaten by ants, wasps, birds and our particularly stupid tabby cat than by me. Obviously things had to change.

All of the plants were surprisingly shallow rooted, clogged up with dead leaves and stems and hanging on to a good handful of stones...a quick fork/shake/trim brought them back into shape...and into my planters.

Biodiversity was never really a strong point of Elevated Agriculture, space being somewhat confined, but I now find myself with strawberries everywhere and no room (or at least no more pots...) for anything else.

Given my maxim that you should only grow thing that you really want to eat, is this a bad thing?

Answers on a postcard, or even better on our Facebook page.

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