Strawberry season

I have no excuse for not posting since February. I’ve had a painting block since early March that I don’t attribute to returning to a (wonderful) full-time job. Although it means that I could once again buy a $60 tube of Old Holland cadmium orange, my time in the studio has been limited.

Getting the gardens going in early spring meant a dump truck bringing in 5 cubic yards of mushroom compost. The hard part was hauling it out in the wheelbarrow to various beds. The soil here is high in mineral content, low in loam. Worms love my lazy sheet composting, but they don’t work fast enough. And now I’m deep in strawberry season, having to pick daily to keep up. On my second year for the 25 each of Honeoye and Ozark Beauty plants, it’s another bumper crop, planted in the fall of 2011. This happened before, when I lived in Chester County, PA. I had to buy a small freezer to hold all the berries from the then 5 year old plants.

Alfisols, the second best soils in the country, are found in that part of Pennsylvania, the bedroom suburbs of Philly. Second only to the Mollisols found in the midwest and in California’s central valley. Here in Georgia we have what are known as Ultisols or commonly, red clay. It’s typically acidic. Strawberries love acid soils, but they were easier to grow in the southeastern PA garden. I never had a problem with ants eating them there, or with mold. Next fall I’ll mulch with pine straw to keep them dry and clean. Lucky for me that the birds have bugs in their sights, not berries. Even the bluebirds nesting in the birdhouse overlooking the strawberry beds are oblivious.

Once I added spent mushroom substrate (compost) to my Atlanta gardens, the worms, collards, kale, spinach and strawberries, love it.

What to make with my bounty? I finally have a bundt pan, thanks to a colleague’s shared cake recipe. Inspiration.

kouglofcherries

I found a beautiful blog called Manger on food with artful photographs by the writer’s husband. From the Médoc region of France, it’s enough to just peruse the gorgeous layouts that look like Dutch still lifes.

louchegardencake

This cake is a simple meringue with flowers and berries. And whipped cream.

I may just settle for strawberry scones, found on Confessions of a Tart. And I’ll make some time for a jam making session.

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Garlic Soup  with a dollop of duck fat (what, they’re in France already) and a peony head from the Manger blog. I miss having peonies, so next fall will be planting time for the beauties from Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery.

 

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