Posted in Gardening Spinning

Henrietta and the Strawberries

April 6, 2011 - 5:01 pm

Strawberries are perverse plants.

Last spring I built them a lovely mound.  I amended the soil.  I planted 4 varieties developed in the region, mixing ever-bearing and June bearing so we would have a big initial crop and then a constant small supply.  I trimmed their runners, so the mother plants would focus on their own roots rather than offsets.  We let each plant set a few fruits, but plucked most of the flowers.

And then suddenly it was winter before it had ever really been Fall.  I never put them properly to bed; I just left them to their own devices.  Today I perhaps reaped the rewards of my inattention, except I prefer to believe it’s their perversity, not my lack of care, that made such a mess.

They had, somehow, migrated.  Instead of neat little offset rows of plants, they were scattered about with big empty spots and over-tight spacings.  This could have been the work of raccoons going after grubs.  It could have been the work of the cats and dog.  But I think it’s the plants.  They had also set a bumper crop offsets on the driveway and brick paths.  Lots of perfectly good dirt, but nooooo, let’s set down roots between these two bricks!  grrr.

All is now orderly in strawberryland again.  Runners are trimmed back to the mothers so I can weed around them, and all the weeds are removed.  The volunteer poppies and parsley have been heeled in elsewhere in the garden.  The offsets are re-planted in the inexplicable bare spots.  All that remains is a good feeding and some mulch, and they should be good for the season.

It felt good to be out digging in the little plot of Earth that’s mine to tend.  I had a very grumpy day, but there is something relaxing and, well, grounding about tending the land.  Even though it was cold, even though there’s now hail coming down and I’m still shivering, it was good.  I’m still a bit down and disheartened, but no longer ready to chew nails and snap at people.  I feel much more at peace and ready to face the things that must be dealt with.

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In other news, Henrietta is all spun up, plyed, and awaiting finishing.  250 yds (unfinished) of worsted-ish yarn from 4 oz.  I’m pleased.  🙂  As ever it’s shockingly darker than I expected, but I like it.  I want to try to make a wrap of some kind, but I believe it will need to be mixed with another fiber; 250 yds isn’t a lot to work with, and I expect to lose at least 10% in the finishing.

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The tags are for me to remember what end to start from when knitting, since I set up what should end up being gradual color shifts.  I racked my brain trying to come up with a way to mark the yarn that would survive a fulling, and then realized I have plenty of scrap fabric and a laundry marking pen.  I made up tags, lettered them sequentially (writing on satin is hard!)  and tied them to the starting ends of the skeins, so I’ll know where to begin when I start knitting, no matter how long the yarn marinates.

It ended up that my first ply– the one that was split as a single length of the braid– is much shorter than the second ply.  I *think* this is because I slipped into semi-worsted point of contact spinning, rather than the honest long draw I was doing on the first ply.  Semi-worsted is much more well suited to cuddling on the couch watching tv.  🙂

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