I was relying on the 8 year old to dig holes in the hard ground although eventually I did get the tiller going. Not bad for this mechanically challenged gal who has NO Idea how to run anything normally. We planted them and they did grow - one row out of 3 (or about 25 out of 75 plants).
By fall they were rapidly spreading and knee high with grass. I transplanted a boatload (about 75 more) and thought it is fall (wrong time for us) and there is no hope they will live. Why am I wasting my time as it is almost November, but I covered them with straw and let the weeds go.
This spring I uncovered the straw and there were the gorgeous plants in all their glory. I think every single one I had moved last fall lived, as did every single blade of grass. Earlier in spring I thought to let them all just go and buy more (I did buy 100 more plants and plant in other places), but then I felt guilty - I paid $38 for those strawberries and they SHOULD produce this year, so to let them go at this point . . . AHGH.
So I took our a potato fork and gently lifted roots to get out dandelion roots and grass roots - huge craters of dirt gone and more grass than berry. They were blooming beautifully though, so I had hopes if I could JUST get on top of the grass they would survive. I managed only about 5 feet in an hour for being careful to not destroy the berries which managed to live despite having their roots horribly disturbed.
I would get discouraged by the sheer quantity of grass, but for some reason I could not let that patch go. Maybe sheer stubbornness because of that silly $38, or guilt for not keeping on top of it when I DO have time. But is it time well spent when I have 3 other gardens, children, animals, house to keep tidy, food to make etc?
I noticed that nobody bothered me when I was in the strawberry patch (except for mosquitoes and THAT is another story!). DH left me be and I"d hear them come outside to look for me and say "Oh, she's in the strawberries." Maybe they considered them a lost cause and did not want to have to help or maybe I was absorbed in dreaming while I did it and couldn't be disturbed. :) Regardless, I could actually spend 15-45 minutes uninterrupted by anything including DH who normally sees me weed and comes over immediately and joins me (or does it on his own in the mornings - what a dear!).
I began to think of the strawberry patch as my prayer closet. I pray a lot while I go about my work - I hum and pray as I see an object somebody gave me and I pray for them, as I read discouraging posts on facebook and pray for the Lord to be praised and work in the situation and prove that we can overcome, but when I'm in the house every 2 seconds somebody needs me or needs help or wants to talk and I easily forget what I was praying about. When I'm in the strawberry patch nobody does that and I purpose to NOT let my mind wander, to not get distracted, to not think about gardening, animals, notes, what I SHOULD be doing, it would be my "I should have gotten up at 6AM before the kids and prayed uninterrupted" time. So I told the Lord all this and said I needed help to remember not to let my mind wander and to help me stick to it.
Whenever I think "I don't have time to weed the strawberries", I think to myself have I spent time memorizing and praying that day? And I look at my strawberry patch with grass going to SEED! and think uh oh, is that also a sign of my heart and my walk with the Lord? If I let the grass go even a week, the roots become tangled in the strawberries and when you gently follow them backwards they lead everywhere - the same way sin and poor habits do. They encroach so quickly and into more areas of your life than you even thought possible. So the whole time I am weeding my little 5 foot section I remember how sin affects our lives and I pray for all the burdens of my heart to be let over to the Lord and for joy, a purpose and excitement for the future for my children - a hard thing sometimes after a short delve into the world!
I admit, since I decided to make it my prayer time, I am convinced I may never get all the way down the 60 x4 foot row before the beginning is absolutely full of weeds again and wonder if the weeds would grow half as fast if I hadn't decided to make it my prayer patch ;) You know, kind of like "don't pray for patience unless you want a lot of trials to help develop patience". Don't pray for a strawberry patch of weeds to help remind you to pray unless you are willing to deal with just how well weeds grow . . .
I imagine my family thinks I am crazy, but at this point every time I think of not bothering, I remember that the strawberries and their silly weeds remind me to pray and memorize. And I look back and think of the hard work involved in weeding that patch and how after a bit I'm having to gently pry grass roots from in between strawberry roots and that a weed free bed doesn't happen without work. Don't get me wrong, I have a boatload of weedy garden areas - the comfrey is hiding underneath 3 feet of grass right now and doesn't even give me a twinge of guilt *G*. But 3x a day when I walk by those berries I am reminded to pray and reminded that if I haven't been out there, I need to go do it even for just 5 minutes because it is for my soul and not for the strawberries.
Although just to make a liar out of my "everybody leaves me alone" observation, this morning my 3 year old joined me and said "I will help you weed the strawberries."
I told her these weeds are like sin and why does she think that? And she said "Because I is trying to dig them out and frow them and they don't frow without your help!"
(we are throwing the tall grass on top of some cedar mulch in the pathway and the wind was strong :) )
It is so wonderful to have children who have different unsoiled perspectives on everything and gave me alot to reflect on before her 3 second attention span caused her to dance away and pretend she was killing a grasshopper on Papa to scare him. . :)
So maybe I need reminders to not get so attached to my berry time that I grouchily won't respond to the kids (that happens rather easily when you have a lot of needy people around you :) ), but I am thankful for those berries and the fruit I am seeing all over even with weeds still everywhere.