Wild Strawberries, Tastes Just Like Wild Hickory Nuts!


Well, not really, but while foraging for wild strawberries (or, asparagus, blackberries, raspberries, etc.), I can not help but think back to Euell Gibbons hawking Grape Nuts breakfast cereal while I sat and watched my Saturday morning, non-educational, but funny, cartoons.  “Grape Nuts, tastes just like wild hickory nuts!” OK, Euell. 

Still, Euell’s book Stalking the Good Life, did enlighten me to the fact that strawberry leaves, in addition to the fruit, are high in Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).  In winter, a tea can be made from the ever present leaves by pouring boiling water over a container of freshly picked leaves.  The covered container is allowed to sit over night, the tea is then strained and chilled.  This tea was tested to have 229 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams of leaves.  Euell mixed the tea with cider vinegar and honey. I definitely want to try this come wintertime.

ed strw on plant

I did not have to travel far to forage for these strawberries, they were growing in my backyard meadow.

ed meadow

It was getting late in the day, and I wanted to pick just enough to top off a bowl of vanilla ice cream, but it has been a very good year for strawberries, and I could not stop picking them – they all looked so good!

ed bowl clean

I picked a few more than needed for the ice cream, so I thought I would see how well they froze for future use.  I am not too sure how well this test will work, since I do not expect them to be in my freezer for too long, but I will eat fresh berries, as long as I can, then switch to the frozen ones, after the last harvest.

ed frozen

To freeze the berries (an aggregate of drupes, actually), I sprayed a cake pan with a very light coating of oil, then spread out the berries one layer thick and placed them in the freezer.  The next day, I poured the fruit into a zippered freezer bag and placed the bag back in the freezer.  These frozen berries will make a great snack on a hot summer day, or a good addition to pancake batter. 

The fresh strawberries were added to a bowl of vanilla ice cream, with a garnish of mint, from the herb garden – ’cause I’m fancy like that.  It was a nice way to wrap up a busy day.

ed w ice cream


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Found Treasure: Cinder Block Planters


About a year ago, a friend and I went on an urban exploration.  We were in search of anything that we might make use of in our gardens.  I knew of a site that was used in the past to dump old bits of buildings, including limestone foundation block, terracotta ornamentation, and bricks dumped unceremoniously in an empty overgrown industrial lot.  I’ve been to this site before, and pulled out terracotta blocks to use as plant stands and to act as impromptu garden sculpture.  This time, however, I saw cast column blocks that I had overlooked on previous visits – they reminded me of old stone farm troughs from England, these were smaller, but they were also FREE!


When I got them home, I thought that they might work well in a new garden that I was working on in the front yard.  I leveled the earth a bit, set down the blocks, and filled them with potting soil and fancy leaved Caladium.

This simple approach seemed to work well, until this spring, when I went to plant some begonias.  The potting mix was filled with a solid mass of Silver Maple tree roots. No good.  I lifted the blocks and the soil/root matrix stood solid.


I thought of digging a hole and lining it with landscape fabric (weed matting) to keep the roots out, but then struck on the idea of burying a plastic pot under each cinder block.  These pots could be set level and offer a solid base for the blocks to set on.


The pots were set in the holes with a sandy soil mix locking them in place.




The blocks were then set on top and filled with a mixture of compost, topsoil, and perlite in roughly a 1:1:1 ratio.


Finally, they were planted with a mixture of rose and pink Wax Begonia and watered in.  The look is urban renewal cast-offs, meets Old World English garden. Beautiful!


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