One of my fondest memories from childhood was going to our local Pick Your Own fruit and veg place once or twice a year. We’d spend all day there in the sun, picking everything from sweetcorn to potatoes, cherries and blackberries but by far my favourite thing was always the strawberries.
There is something so homely and so beautifully British about fresh strawberries. The first strawberries of the season are symbolic of the start of summer and it’s a time I look forward to every year. As a child we grew strawberries in the garden too but they were alpine ones, tiny with lots of seeds and not the greatest of things although every one I picked was perfect to me.
I promised myself I would pass on the love of strawberry picking to my children and when we moved into our house one of our vegetable patches had some mature but not very well looked after strawberry plants in them. I weeded and pruned and made space between the plants for more strawberry plants and over the last 4 summers of living here we have grown new plants from the strawberry offshoots and a few weeks ago I planted a whole second bed with strawberry plants, looking forward to many summers full of strawberries, jam making and happy memories.
From when LP was two we would take her to the end of the garden, get her to help us water the vegetable patches and show her the beautiful red strawberries ripe on the plants. Each summer she has eaten those strawberries for snacks and as dessert and has loved picking them herself this year. It’s her third summer of being involved in garden strawberry picking and she now asks to see if there are more to pick each day – although I try and wait every two days.
This is Little Man’s first year of helping with the strawberries, so keen to pick them that he often picks under ripe ones but his excited face is something I hope comes back year after year. Strawberry season in our garden may only last two, three or sometimes four weeks but those weeks for me are some of the best of the year. Three weeks of nice weather, spending time in the garden, playing, relaxing and strawberry picking.