When I perused the aisles at the local nursery last year for ideas on what to plant, I picked up a six pack of strawberry plants. They looked healthy, with tiny white flowers showing promise to produce berries. I planted them under the still leaf-less dogwood with hopes they would generate more flowers and subsequent berries. I got a total of 6.
This year, the plants crept past the dogwood into the garlic patch; from the beets to the kale bed. And the plants produced more fruit than I anticipated. I didn’t like how they cramped my other vegetables, but I decided wait and see how they tasted before I uproot them.
My first harvest was enough to actually make something, but opted for savoring their flavor, not masking it with too much sugar or cream. I also wanted to make sure they were worth the space. The berries were soft and juicy, as opposed to the hard and crunchy “berries” sold at the supermarket. They had a bright acidity with a little sweetness. (Though, right after brushing my teeth, I would have given them a different, less favorable description.)
I could have made strawberry shortcakes or a pie. Instead I decided to toss them with arugula and scallions from the garden, and season simply with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and black pepper. The salad was a perfect foil for Vanilla Scented Duck Breast (same marinade as used here). And the duck skin played the role of croutons.
The big question remains – will the plants live to see another season? The berries were good, and the yield was better than the raspberry plant. But I don’t like they way the plants creep around. I will probably cut back what has crept too much and leave the rest.