"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wuttahimneash


"Wuttahimneash" is what the Naragansett Indians called strawberries, referred to as heart-seed berry by many Native Americans. We have been enjoying the first of several harvests of strawberries from our everbearing plants for over two weeks now.

A somewhat disturbing event has been taking place the last couple years as the number one competitor for our strawberries, the robin, has not appeared in great numbers. The reason for this is that all the baby birds are being stolen from their nests by ravens. Ravens fly around searching the trees until they find a nest and then kill and remove the baby bird to be eaten later or fed to their own young. We have not even bothered to cover our berries this year, for the first time. I must say that I would rather cover the berries and watch the baby birds learning to feed themselves... such is life. On the other hand, ravens are one of my favorite birds regardless of their bad dining habits.

We not only gather our berries from the gardens but have been entrusted with two types of the over 35 species of wild strawberries. Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and Woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca) grow throughout the forested areas of our property. Some Indian tribes used to mash the berries and mix them with cornmeal making a bread of sorts that English colonists transformed into the modern strawberry shortcake we now enjoy today. We pick the small wild berries and make a strawberry walnut bread out of them, it's very good.


I have also been planting easily lifted spring runners from the Virginia Strawberry, one of the few small strawberries to reproduce from both seed and runners, in my garden. It will be interesting to see how they perform under more pampered conditions.


Strawberries seeds are on the outside rather than contained inside the fruit. They are called straw-berries because straw is what was commonly used to mulch them. The everbearing woodland strawberries in this picture do not develope runners and must reproduce through seed. They have a very 'strong' sweet flavor.


Thinned beet green quiche and strawberry salad for two was on last night's dinner menu. Yummy!

19 comments:

Matt and April said...

That Salad looks prime! Still a week or two away from wild berries around here.

Taryn said...

Nice- I just made strawberry bread. So good! Sorry to hear about the robins. I love robins.

el said...

Ugh: as I read this I am on batch #2 of strawberry jam, just for this household...and next Monday is the jam-a-thon for school so I am a bit up to my ears in strawberries! I will say this is my first year growing my own, though, and that's only because a generous soul shared some of his plants with me. I didn't like the idea of spending $2 per plant which is the going rate here.

Your salad does look truly lovely. How are your salad dressing experiments going???

Stefaneener said...

Sounds as though you're almost hip-deep in goodness. I know the ravens have to live, but you'd hope for some balance.

The salad looks good, even first thing in the morning.

Silke said...

Oh, you are making me so hungry! Your food looks delicious! I'd never thought of putting strawberries into a salad - great idea! Growing up, we always took full advantage of the strawberry season, picking baskets of fruit at strawberry farms and making enough jam to last us all year. When I close my eyes, I can still smell the sweet fragrance of them... :) Silke
P.S. Do have a recipe for the bread or do you just make it up?

Mr. H said...

Matt and April,

Aren't wild berries great, you guys must have the whole range of them growing in your area. Saskatoon's are next for us followed by huckleberries.

Mr. H said...

Taryn,

'So good' is possibly the best way to describe strawberry bread.:) Nature is a fickle beast, one animal dies so another can live. I love robins too, their songs are some of the first sounds I hear each morning.

Mr. H said...

Hi El,

Hi El,

Strawberry jam sounds so good but I will settle for frozen berries instead. Although if my apricot trees take off in the next couple years you can bet that I will be asking you about jam making... my favorite.

You will never have to buy strawberries again, they are a most prolific plant. It's amazing how hardy they are. The everbearing ones we grow are not fussy at all, and really put out as long as they have a little elbow room to grow.

I have been meaning to tell you that your dressing recipe was fabulous, we love it. I just made up a batch for tonight's salad. The only change I made has been to use keifer instead of yogurt. Thank you. We have also made a nice dressing using tomatillos and balsamic.

Mr. H said...

Stefaneener,

You would laugh if knew how much salad we eat, salad for breakfast and dinner almost every day. It makes up a huge part of our diet.

I suppose nature has it's own harsh balance that is hard for us to understand or like. It really is kind of sad though, I have not seen one baby robin this year, normally they are everywhere.

Mr. H said...

Silke,

Strawberries are so good in a salad, as are most berries, you really must try them that way.

By the way, since you mentioned putting cilantro in your salads we have not had one without it since. I have also started adding dill, the combo really jazzes up a salad. Thanks for the idea.

As far as the bread recipe goes it was made up on the fly as is normal around here but we did write it down. It is light on sugar and based around 'wild' strawberries though.

Mike & Micki's Strawberry Moon Bread

Combine:

1/4 cup melted butter

1 egg

1/3 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup keifer (plain yogurt or butter milk would work also)

Sift together and add:

1/2 cup corn meal

1 cup white flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup walnuts

Fold in 1 cup wild strawberries (try diced cherries instead)

Pour batter into loaf pan

Bake at 375°for 40 minutes

Keep in mind our tastes are very simple.

Silke said...

Thank you so much for the recipe! I'll try it this weekend!! I forgot to say in my last comment - I like robins (sorry to hear about their plight), but ravens are some of my very favorite birds. We had fun this year, as a pair of red-tailed hawks (another favorite) built their nest in our neighbors pine and we got to watch as the fledglings (3) grew and took flight. Wonderful and mysterious somehow, how nature works... :) Silke

Frugilegus said...

Your strawberries look wonderful! Slightly jealous... I only got my bit of space a few months ago so have to be content with having eaten just 12 (exquisite) alpine strawberries, and the hope of some late fruits from a few buckets I planted up a few weeks ago. I'll have made progress when I stop counting individual fruit...

That's the difference between urban-gardening and having some real land I suppose - but I'm so glad to have any mud at all!

I sympathise with your robin dilemma as I agree that Ravens, and all crows, are such wonderful birds (so much so that I named myself after them...)

Mr. H said...

Frugilegus,

I have never seen a rook and perhaps never will, but I have been enamored with ravens and crows since I was a small child. A school mate had a pet raven, the bird would follow him to school every morning and perch on his shoulder. They are such intelligent birds, I love watching them in the wild. They truly are a fascinating and mysterious creature.

Aren't the small berries great, so sweet. 12 is enough and enough is as good as a feast.

Leigh said...

Is that stone mulch around the fine looking tomato plants?

Mr. H said...

Leigh,

Those tomatoes are a few extra plants that we just could not bear to part with. Since they ended up in our flower garden my wife decided to make them a little more attractive.

Wayne Stratz said...

looks wonderful.

Cynthia said...

Loving your blog... and am reminded of the wild strawberries of my childhood on my Northeastern Saskatchewan farm (whew-- takes up a lot of room, that). My Daddy was an avid strawberry picker-guide and also wove in some fairy stories as we trod the woods (fairies lived under fungal canapes and left messages on tiny scrolls of birch bark. I searched everywhere for those little people and they never did keep their appointments to meet me at the grove at the head of the lawn or wherever...lol

Mr. H said...

Wayne Stratz,

Thanks, the strawberries tasted even better then they looked.:) Thanks for visiting our site.

Mike

Mr. H said...

Cynthia,

As a child my grandmother would take me to pick saskatoon berries. One of the routes to the berry bushes led over a small bridge. While we walked over the bridge grandmother would always tell the story of the three billy goats and the troll that lived under the bridge. This was a bit scary for a 4 year old, I never did see that troll.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mike

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