Growing Strawberries and the Beauty of Four Seasons in Kansas

Growing strawberries symbolizes summer and plenty for which to be grateful.

Strawberries

Officially a June-bearing strawberry, the Sequoia strawberry will produce throughout summer in mild climates.

Photo by iStockphoto.com/FotoLounge

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I am thankful for the seasons.

Several weeks back, as I ate my first strawberry of the year from our gardens, my mind wandered back to my childhood. When I was a youngster, we always had a big strawberry patch. I distinctly remember running out to the garden before school with Mom one morning, because temperatures had dipped overnight, and she was fearful a frost would do them in. With a significant sense of urgency, we sprayed water over the patch and covered it all with a tarp to try and keep the berries and plants from freezing. They came out of it unharmed.

Back then, Mom’s homemade jam, as well as strawberries and shortcake, were true seasonal delicacies in our household. Strawberries were always a favorite, even though at harvest time it meant hours on end spent stooped over picking the berries as I kept an eye out for blacksnakes and copperheads.

So, I was excited last gardening season when my wife and I decided to plant four Sequoia strawberry plants and see what would happen. At first, we placed them more or less in the middle of the large garden that also included the typical potatoes, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, lettuce and more, but as the season went along, we talked about moving them closer to the house. There, they’d be easier to maintain, plus we didn’t want their sprawl to encroach on space that we share with our neighbors.

Gwen successfully transplanted the strawberry plants to a garden bed right up by the house in the early part of summer, into a spot where they can expand with no negative consequence. Between grilling food and simply enjoying the outdoors as much as we do, the back patio is a sanctum of sorts, and it’s nice to have the strawberries right there where we can continually pull weeds or harvest and eat berries. It’s been wonderful – and we haven’t even made strawberries and shortcake yet.

Establishing that Sequoia strawberry patch was the highlight of our garden season last year, although we did harvest some potatoes and a good number of tomatoes, as well as squash and zucchini. Admittedly, the garden got away from us last year. While talking to my neighbor, Lowell, a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that to him, and he said something along the lines of, “That’s happened to me for the last 30 years.” That’s hard to believe, though, as his tomatoes thrive year after year.

Those strawberries symbolize the season to me, and it’s sort of similar to when I was a kid playing sports – in fall, my brothers and I loved football, winter meant basketball, and baseball reigned supreme during summer.

I’m like that with the seasons, in different ways now: summers mean strawberries, gardening, 4th of July camping, mowing, coaching some baseball and more; fall means hunting for whitetail deer, ducks, geese, you name it; winter brings its own set of firewood-centered chores, hours spent running chainsaws and log splitters; and then come spring, you have the rebirth of the cycle, hunting morel mushrooms, fishing for crappie, etc.

Tropical beaches sound nice and all, but I’m grateful for the four seasons in Middle America.

What about you? What symbolizes the summer season to you, and how is your growing season going? Send me a note with a photo or two (cregan@grit.com), if available, and we might put a few of them into a future issue of the magazine.