We enjoyed our first ripe strawberry of the season this morning. Nothing beats the sweet, sweet deliciousness of an organic, homegrown strawberry. Strawberries are probably the easiest fruit to grow in containers and do very well in hanging baskets, strawberry pots, or window boxes on sunny decks and balconies. I give mine little more than a little sea kelp and vermicompost (worm poo) fertilizer now and again and am sure to keep the soil consistently moist without drying out. The hybrids can take a bit of drought but I try not to push the plants too hard in order to get as much juicy, sweet fruit as possible.
This year I am growing both a pink flowering and a white flowering, everbearing hybrid that will produce two crops of berries, one this month and the second in late-summer/early-fall. Our first strawberry actually came from the canister plant but I missed getting a snap of it in Davin’s eagerness to taste. With today’s heat and humidity the berry shown in the above image should be ready by this evening!
What to do with a lone strawberry plant leftover from another soon-to-be-revealed project, a small flat of red violas ($3.50 for 16 plants!), and an old coffee canister that was thrifted as part of a 70s era fake woodgrain 4 part kitchen canister set?
Put them together!
I figure the red viola flowers will look great alongside the red strawberries and everything is edible. I poked holes in the bottom of the canister using a large, and very dangerous nail left behind by the dudes who installed new gutters on our building, filled the new “pot” with container soil, and mulched the top using shards from a terracotta pot that broke in transit — nothing is wasted! And to think I used to smirk at my grandmother’s tendancy to hourd Swiss Chalet containers and plastic bread ties — there was a lot of useful crap in those drawers!
It’s been about a week since I planted this up and I’ve already got little strawberries forming and new flowers in bloom.
Total cost about $2.
I’ve long held the belief that there are no green thumbs or black thumbs and that gardening is a process of learning and discovery with no peak or end goal. You can garden like a maniac your entire life and never know everything there is to be known. In fact I would say that the more I learn the less I realize I know. That sounds intimidating but it’s one aspect of this hobby/lifestyle that is most rewarding and optimistic. And knowing that you can’t possibly know everything there is to know should help to take some of the pressure off.
That said, I can say with absolute certainty that all gardeners have their weaknesses — there is always that one plant, that dirty little secret whose riddle just can’t be cracked. Mine used to be radishes. I know exactly how to grow them and if you had asked me I would have been able to explain exactly what they need without flinching. But when it came down to it I grew a pretty awful radish. I wrote about my radish problem in the You Grow Girl book because I wanted people to know that they should not give up on those embarassing failures and that it is sometimes one thing to understand what a plant needs on an intellectual level and another thing to apply that knowledge to a real plant.
And then low and behold, just last year I managed to grow my first crop of good container-grown radishes! And today, for a second year running, I have harvested my first tasty, crisp, not-at-all-woody container-grown radishes of the season. Woot! I’ve come to think that my radish mistake probably came down to my own insanely stubborn insistance on growing a variety that just couldn’t take the extra heat and drought on the deck. Again this was one of those instances where I KNEW what I should have been growing and had even appropriately advised many aspiring radish growers while stubbornly soldiering on in the wrong direction in my own garden.
Gardening season is gearing up for THE BIG WEEKEND, the one in which I will NOT make the mistake of visiting a garden centre or even think about visiting a garden centre. The up-and-coming long weekend — officially known as “May Two-Four” here in Southern Ontario as a way to promote the fact that any Canadian worth their salt will be single-handedly downing a 24 pack of Molson Canadian as a nod to our colonial ties to England or some such whatever, also marks the begininning of our local gardening season. As a result I’ve been frantically running around the city buying plants and preparing for a bunch of up and coming projects and television appearances. Everyone wants to talk gardening this week! I have visited at least one garden centre every single day for the last 7-10 days. I went to three today. In the rain. It was cold and wet.
Anyways, I’ll be on the teevee both Thursday and Friday this week. I’ll also be selling stuff at The Urban Harvest sale this coming Saturday (see the sidebar for details). I promise you it will be fun, not at all painful like the line-ups from hell you will see at any other garden store this weekend. Plus I’ll have new button designs!
Thursday, May 17, 2007.
Gill Deacon Show
11am and 2pm
I’ll be talking about gardening in a changing climate.
Friday, May 18, 2007.
Times are listed on their website.
I’ll be talking about container gardening and demonstrating how I plant and grow tomatoes.
In the spirit of Be Nice to Nettles Week, we tried our hand at a batch of nettle soup using the site recipe as a basis. Let me tell you that a half pound of nettles is a whole lot more than you’d expect. I harvested enough young nettles (stems included) to fill a small plastic bag however once the stems and not so great parts were removed it came out to just slightly over 1/4 pound. Here’s what that looks like:
Just a reminder to protect your hands with gloves at any point in the process that involves touching any part of the fresh nettles including leaves and stems. The plant will lose its sting once cooked, but can get you at anytime when fresh, even when soaking under water.
The recipe seemed a little too bland so I chopped and added half a small onion before adding the nettles. We did not have sour cream or yoghurt on hand so I garnished mine with bits of smoked trout bought at my local farmer’s market. The soup was really good, tasting very much like vichyssoise. In fact I ate the leftovers cold. The geek in me was very satisfied that a portion of this meal was collected/foraged from the out-of-doors. Over the last year I’ve come back full circle to an early interest in wild foods and edible weeds that I haven’t really indulged since I was a teenager foraging for plants with “Edible Weeds of Canada” tucked under my arm.
Next up: Garlic Mustard.