Saturday, August 2, 2008

Strawberry Patch on Wheels

Yep, that's right, I'm currently in the middle of creating the world's first completely portable strawberry patch. How? Why? Let me explain...

A couple of weeks ago I walked to the supermarket, and I bought way too much to carry home, especially with an incredibly cute eight kilos of little girl strapped to my body, so I brought home my shopping in one of those big metal supermarket trolleys. Huge ungainly things that they are! I had such trouble bringing it all home, they are so HEAVY (I think these days trolleys are actually larger than they used to be -probably so we can be tricked by the evil supermarket tycoons into buying more - they are so deep I almost fall into them trying to get the last little packets out of the bottom. I have visions of little old ladies taking dives into them as they overbalance, their legs waving around as they wait to be helped out.) and the footpaths are all much more uneven than you would ever notice just walking along. I spent the whole walk home trying to prevent the damn thing from either rolling onto the road, the nature strips or banging into fences. Do others have this issue? Maybe it's just me. Anyway, it was annoying. So the thing has been sitting in our front yard since then, waiting for me to take it back. It just didn't seem to be happening. It wasn't that I didn't go on lots of walks, in the direction of the supermarket. I went on heaps. I could have done it multiple times. But my general inclination for some reason just didn't seem to be leaning towards hauling this massive, cumbersome, LOUD contraption back from whence it came. Especially empty. At least a full trolley represents the promise of delicious treats and wonderful ingredients to unpack at the other end. An empty trolley is just dead weight. Not appealing at all!

Strawberries, I hear you ask? Why all this faffle about trolleys? Yes, well recently some dear friends who were moving out of their rented home gifted us with about 30 strawberry plants from a wonderful patch they had created, but were now leaving. I was so stoked!! I had always dreamed of growing a whole strawberry patch, but for some reason in my mind it was placed in the category of really awesome things other people did but not me. (I really must minimise the number of things in that category, life's too short!) So anyway, I went ahead and dug out a lovely section of lawn and created my own lovely patch, and planted away. They all looked very happy in their new home, and my mouth watered as I imagined the bountiful bowlfuls of delicious homegrown organic strawberries that we would be surrounded by. Yay!

Until I did a little research (well, actually I just mentioned my new patch to Tania as we sat in the sun in her lovely backyard, sipping herbal tea) and discovered that strawberries need a raised mound to grow well, with lots of drainage. Bugger! My patch was not only un-raised, it was a kind of a ditch. Hmmm. Not good. I wanted the best for these strawberries, I wanted them to really thrive, and living in a ditch just wasn't gonna cut it for them. Also, I had recently been inspired (as per a few blog posts ago) to really devote a big area of our garden to veggies. And really, the strawberries, although lovely and wonderful and delicious and marvellous, were taking up a huge piece of prime vegie land. I knew I had to make a decision, and it wasn't gonna be easy.

And then one day, as I sat on my front porch and looked out over my garden, and pondered (as I do often) I had a brilliant idea. I could take this here godawful trolley, line it with the bit of shadecloth I had sitting in the garage, fill it with soil and compost and all manner of lovely things that strawberries love to dine on, and turn it into a planter! AND, not only could I plant them in the top, as no doubt you are imagining right now, but I could also poke holes in the shadecloth along the *vertical sides* of the trolley, and grow strawberries up the SIDES! Pure genius! I almost saw a flash of light come out my ears as this thought formed itself in my brain. The whole darned THING could be covered in lovely delicious strawberries! Yay!

So it's underway. This afternoon while Indi and Mat sat on a blanket on the grass, chatting and singing, I spent an hour lining the trolley with the shade cloth and hauling into it a bunch of home made compost, potting mix, sheep manure, blood and bone, sulphate of potash and a bit of pine mulch and mixing it all together. Dr Chops was fascinated and kept sniffing around and investigating. And then Indi got sick of it all and wanted a feed and a nap, so we left it at that, and now we have a trolley filled with soil on the lawn. My neighbours now have even more reason than before to think I am mad. But oh well. Will *they* have a strawberry patch on wheels? No, no they won't.

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