The miraculous strawberry plant.
June — time for strawberry pie! It reminds me that the first time I saw a strawberry plant, I didn’t even know what I was looking at. I was taking a walk and just happened to notice some cute little white flowers with yellow centers, planted alongside a building.
On later visits, I really wasn’t aware that they were starting to look a bit different, until after a few weeks. . .voilà! Those golden centers had transformed — into strawberries!
To be honest, before that moment, I’d never really thought about where my favorite fruit came from. I never even pictured them growing from the ground. As far as I was concerned, they just magically appear in those little green boxes, ready for us to eat.
But that’s not how life works, is it?
I’ve learned something about strawberries since then. As Spring days grow longer, the flowers begin to bloom. At the yellow center of each blossom, the plant is pollinated. Each branch will grow three or more flowers on it. Eight if you’re lucky.
Once pollination takes place, the petals fall off and the yellow centers begin to change. The small berries start out yellowish or greenish at first — eventually turning just the right color of red for the picking.
Strawberry Fields Forever!
By June, the berries are ready! But they can’t all be picked at once. Because the fruits on the flower trusses grow individually in various sizes, the farm workers have to make three passes through the fields to be sure they take each berry only at its very best.
The “king fruits” — the biggest berries — get picked first; then later the medium-sized and smaller ones.
It used to be that a strawberry plant’s flowers would bloom only in May, and then the “June Berries” would arrive — and that would be that. But nowadays, depending upon the plant variety and the climate, strawberry season can last all the way until November.
Some varieties will even grow any time of year, as long as the weather is good — like in California, for instance.
After learning all this, I definitely have a much greater appreciation for the fact that…