Always look forward to the first strawberries of the season and today I picked this beauty!
Arbutus unedo, one of my favourite trees is flowering in my garden at the moment. Also known as the Strawberry tree, it has pink tinged white, bell-shaped flowers which hang in clusters from the branches and which are magnets for bees and butterflies.
These flowers will become next years fruit, which unusually appear at the same time as the flowers. The fruit is said to be edible, but doesn’t taste like a strawberry, and can be used to make jam or liqueur. The birds eat them before I get chance to!
Arbus unedo is an evergreen shrub with a bushy habit. However, you can prune the bottom branches off so that it reveals the brown-red bark which peels rather attractively. It is a member of the Ericaceae family so the leaves go yellow if it is not on acid soil – I give mine an Ericaceous feed.
Arbutus unedo (otherwise known as the Strawberry tree) is unusual in that the current year flowers appear as the fruit from the previous year’s flowers, ripen. The fruits are said to be edible, but the blackbirds seem to eat them before I get chance to do anything with them! A wonderfully wildlife-friendly tree – I have previously posted a photo of a butterfly on the flowers of Arbutus unedo and bees love the flowers too!
For the last 10 days we’ve been picking strawberries faster than we can eat them, so I made a batch of strawberry jam today. There is absolutely nothing as satisfying as preserving fruit that you have grown yourself and the taste is sublime, compared with shop-bought jam. In fact I don’t even buy supermarket jam any more.
I decided to investigate the first early potatoes (variety Rockets) that I planted on 9 March and discovered quite a large potato – a bit bigger than I would have liked for new potatoes, but I suspect the warm, wet weather we’ve had recently has made them grow rapidly. I dug up the first root and this was the result. I added a sprig of mint in the saucepan when cooking them and they smelt and tasted delicious!
I also picked another 2.25lbs of strawberries. I saved this tray from some I bought at the supermarket last year. Strawberries bruise easily and spreading and storing them like this is ideal for a longer storage time.