This is going to be our year for strawberries! We got nothing last year. The plants were new and what little they produced, the squirrels got first. They would nibble at them and leave the remains out on the grass as if to taunt us. (Same thing with the tomatoes).
This was a week ago. The raised bed was overflowing with healthy plants laden with tiny green fruits and one ripe one! I guess they liked the generous helping of compost they got. We never implemented the elaborate squirrel barrier we were scheming over in early spring, though. Looks like there will be plenty for all of us.
My great grandmother in Idaho was quite the strawberry farmer. She had a little business selling strawberries and eggs to the local grocery store. That was how they did it back then. None of this shipping fruit in from California. All the produce was local because it made sense. They canned the excess to eat during the winter and didn't try to make strawberry shortcake in December.
Mom and her sisters remember going to grandma's twice a week in the summer at the crack of dawn to pick berries before it got hot. That's the secret- pick them in the afternoon and they smoosh when you handle them. In the morning they are firm, but sever them at the stem so the top doesn't come off, just to be safe. They worked until 11:00 am or so, then called it a day for $1, a hot dog, and some pop.
I've got plans upon plans for these berries. I'm going to make strawberry shortcake (Martha's recipe) and a strawberry-rhubarb pie with local rhubarb from Highland Orchards (I'll share my own recipe when I do). But right now, I just have to have them, rinsed, hulled, cut in half, sprinkled with a teensy bit of sugar, and swimming in cream...