My feral strawberries are heavy with ripe berries right now. I call them feral because they are not the true wild strawberries you find demurely tucked into the base of trees in the woods. There were domesticated strawberries at one point in time, but in an unprecedented bid for botanical freedom, them broke out of their garden bed confines and traveled who knows how far to settle (uninvited) in my front flower beds. It is there that they wreak general havoc and strawberry high jinks. They have not bit me yet, but still I remain leery of them.
I actively evict the strawberry plants in from my beds, but inevitably, I cave in and leave a few there in the hopes that there will be fruit at some point in time. Up until this year, this has not been the case. Previously, slugs and small critters managed to gnaw the berries before I could get to them.
That all changed this year.
I am not sure where the slugs have gone. Perhaps a friendly snake or toad has taken up residence and is feasting nightly. I do know where the small critters have gone. A new cat in the house seems to have sparked a new hobby in all of my cats, and that is genetic manipulation of the local small critter population.
If the small critter is not smart enough to recognize the danger in the sound of a cat bell, then it is removed from the general population, thus leaving only the more intelligent (or less hard of hearing) critters, who are smart enough to stay away from my garden. Evolution is a wonderful thing.
You can find strawberries in most parts of the world. Strawberries have grown for centuries in North and South America, Asia and Europe. They all started out as those tiny wild strawberries and it was by sheer chance that the modern hybrid strawberry got its start at all. A chance side by side planting of strawberry plants from both North and South America in 1700’s (or 1600’s depending on who you ask) resulted in cross pollination and a better strawberry. Gardeners, being the quick sort, realized that further crossing of species could result in even better fruit. Soon the race was on to breed a bigger strawberry.
We tend to think of strawberries as either ever bearing or June bearing, but in fact, that is like saying that tomatoes only come as determinate or indeterminate. Just as there are hundreds of tomato varieties, each with their own flavors and nuances, there are hundreds of strawberry varieties as well, each with their own personalities.
What kind mine are, I will never know as they were not kind enough to bring along their plant marker when they barged into my beds. But at least this year they have paid their rent by producing a few succulent and sweet strawberries.