Wednesday, June 24, 2009
"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!