As you all know we are developing our front garden, it's a herb garden but among the herbs, spilling over the edges of the wall are Mara des Bois strawberries. It was always a gamble, it was always a risk, there are pests that love to attack strawberries. Andrew used to have a dog called Kizzie who got among the strawberries and didn't eat them, instead Kizzie would sink her teeth into the end of the berry and suck. There is still talk in his parents house of the ghost white strawberries left by Kizzie. There are caterpillars who will destroy a strawberry patch but neither of these match to the greatest pest we have of strawberries in our garden, Little D.
He found the strawberries hours after planting, we suspect he was peering over our shoulder when we drew the planting plan, and each time we have pulled up in the car he has shot into the front garden, not even the gravel which we put down as a noise deterrent so we could hear him sneaking around out there, has not stopped him going for the strawberries. He can't whistle, so that one is out. The first strawberry of the season must always be his; though to tell you all the truth we have had one before him now and again but had to thoroughly brush our teeth, scrub our nails and spray ourselves with liquid manure just to throw him off the scent. He's as bad with fish and chips, we can never have them in the car or within a mile of the car without him, even if we leave all the windows open on the drive to his school the first thing he will say when he gets in is, 'You've had fish and chips, you thieves!' Little D is proverbial donkey in the strawberry patch, we should have known this when at the age of only eighteen months he tried to throw himself in the strawberry patch.
This photo was taken by Carl Royle for a feature in a local newspaper during our first year of the wartime garden. The war garden, dig for victory and ideas behind it seemed to get a lot of interest back then but Little D had only eyes for strawberries from the start. When we started to preserve them, he learnt two new words, strawberry jam.
His love of fruit grown in the garden extends to gooseberries, tart as sin, straight off the bush and into his mouth. He now knows what raspberries, blackcurrant, redcurrants and rhubarb looks like. He eats all of them with relish, and last year he discovered our orchard was actually a fruit orchard. He saw the young apples and staked his claim. There is a constant with Little D, if you say that you are going to harvest some fruit he will be the first on with his wellies and his basket will be half full by the time you have slipped your's on.
Even foraged fruit from our hawthorn hedgerow, which bristles with blackberries are not safe. He is immune to thorns, his deft little fingers selecting the biggest and juiciest berries.