Editor of the Iowa Soybean Review Magazine

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Rural Route 2: Time to grow

May 3, 2023 | Bethany Baratta

It’s May. That means it’s grow time!

Last year, I learned my lesson. My son and I usually plant flowers in the middle of May; he picks the color scheme, and together we buy and plant flowers in pots and hanging baskets for our home and family members.

Last year, he asked to buy strawberry plants at the local garden center (we’re big fans of Lucille’s near Bondurant). Crunched for time and unsure of our gardening pot inventory at home, I told him we would come back to get the strawberry plants.

Well, weeks went by.

We came back in June, and, you guessed it: it was no longer prime strawberry growing season, and the plants were all gone.

Still, he was determined to grow strawberries.

A visit and phone calls to several other greenhouses and garden centers yielded the same result — no strawberry plants.

Empty-handed and tempted to give up, we landed at Lowe’s.

The discount racks out front were proof that we were too late (as if my other stops didn’t already confirm that notion). Still, I sorted through each rack, hopeful there might be one strawberry plant left.

Then, there it was. Hidden behind a variety of peppers, I found one pot with the strawberry marker. We didn’t even look at the growing instructions. We just knew it was ours.

My son proudly carried it up to the cash register. I grimaced.

The strawberry plant didn’t look like much of a plant — or anything! It looked as if someone had taken a small wooden twig and stuck it in a pot of soil.

“Oh, planting strawberries, huh?” the friendly cashier said.

“Yes!” my son exclaimed.

“We’ll see; I hope so,” I said reluctantly.

I got out 53 cents to pay for the discounted plastic pot of dirt. The friendly cashier handed us the bag, “no charge, good luck,” she said.

You wouldn’t believe the love we put into that little strawberry plant baby.

My son planted the strawberry plant in his pajamas (I pick my battles). He sang to it, determined that the lullaby (he made up): “Grow strawberries, grow” would, in fact, make it grow.

He pulled on his gardening gloves to water his little plant. We protected it from storms, pulling the pot inside when threatening weather dared to touch our strawberry baby.

And — it produced strawberries!

My son picked the strawberries somewhere in between the berries just turning white and way before ripe.

To be honest, I didn’t want a rabbit to snag the strawberries before we did!

We washed those strawberries and stuck them in strawberry malts right away. He proclaimed them the “best malts I’ve never (ever) had!” (He didn’t know I had a frozen bag of strawberries in the freezer to supplement our crop.)

He was proud of the five strawberries he produced last summer. Here’s hoping the five strawberry plants he wants to grow this year are just as fruitful. I’ll keep you updated.

Enjoy the issue — and happy planting!

P.S. Do you sing to your soybeans? Your flowers? Plants? How does your garden grow? Email me at bbaratta@iasoybeans.com.