This year’s harvest season started a little late, thanks to the mild spring extending into a cooler-than-normal summer. Along with the regular rainfall, this led to abundant flowers that resulted in what is looking like a bumper crop for many of our fruits. Above, my first strawberry harvest from the first weekend of July. These strawberries are typically ready by mid-June. However, once they started, I was pretty much out in that strawberry field every few days keeping those plants picked clean. Half of them went into the freezer for later use (mostly the ugly ones, which are better for incorporating into smoothies and pies, where nobody sees them whole) and the other half (the prettiest ones) were eaten fresh. As of the last week of July, I probably have 5 liters of strawberries saved.
Which brings me to the problem of having this little fruit thief following me around when I’m picking berries. It started unobtrusively — I was picking alpine strawberries with one hand and holding the baby with the other. I popped one in his mouth every once in a while, to keep him occupied. At some point, I realized that there was a tiny hand reaching into the cup I was putting the strawberries in, helping himself to freshly picked treats. The next day, I was out picking the bigger garden strawberries from hanging baskets in front of the house. Suddenly, a grabby little hand shoots out and confiscates a berry from my cupped palm. It was shoved in his mouth before I could even take the bit of green off the top! Ever since, he has gotten very bold about demanding strawberries (he squeals like a piglet!) the minute he realizes we are going out to gather them. He will pretty much eat as many as he is given, so I’ve had to be careful about rationing them out so he doesn’t get sick from them. Looks like I will have to put a lot more thought into planting for maximum yield next year!
Now the strawberries are starting to dwindle, but the mangetouts and bilberries are needing constant attention. This past week, the bilberries ripened and it’s a record crop — I got a liter of them just grabbing what I saw off the bushes lining our driveway. We have a generous portion of woodland surrounding us to forage through still, so I will do my best to stock up. Bilberries are probably one of my favorite fruits of all time and they are great in so many baked goods. They are always rather spendy to get, either frozen or fresh, so there is no such thing as having too many of them.