My first strawberry – a perfect little fruity miracle amidst the pandemic doom and gloom – appeared this morning a month ahead of schedule.
I usually start harvesting my strawberries just before Wimbledon – which along with all the other fun events of Britain’s notoriously short summer season – is cancelled.
Wimbledon was due to start on June 29th so the crop really is very early and ironically this early harvest is thanks to the lockdown for two reasons – the weather and my greater vigilance.
The sunshine and clear skies we’ve been enjoying for most of the last month may, scientists believe, be down to reductions in the level of some shorter-lived pollutants which can have a cooling effect on our atmosphere.
These pollutants only stay airborne for days to weeks so their removal due to the massive reductions in travel could have an immediate affect to the amount of sunlight that gets to the Earth’s surface.
A spokesperson from the Met Office said: “Particles in the atmosphere, known as aerosols, can influence the amount of sunlight reaching the ground. They can either be natural such as dust and salt from the ocean while others are man-made such as soot, particulate air pollutants. A reduction in aerosols can increase the amount of sunlight reaching the ground and potentially raise temperature.”
The other reason for the bumper crop is that this year I’ve been able to give the strawberries my full attention. Every few hours during the day I’ve been visiting the patch to pull up the maddening weeds that seem capable of growing a few inches in just a few hours.
They are called bindweeds and they apparently grow from underground storage structures which makes them sound like an alien invader. They are described as hardy, tenacious and opportunistic and nearly impossible to remove. I feel like I’m fighting a war – a virus even – and am just about keeping on top by staying alert at all times.As a result this year’s first strawberry was a perfect specimen.
Years ago they were just eaten as an occasional dessert treat with cream, now they feature in our gin and tonics and have found their way into our breakfasts along with cereal and yogurt.
This is good news as they are packed with nutrients with one serving of eight medium-sized strawberries contains just 45 calories, more than your daily requirement of vitamin C and goodly amounts of folate, potassium and dietary fibre.
So not only am I going to be super-healthy thanks to this early harvest, the planet is seeing a boost too.