2019 Newsletter 10 – You are BERRY Special

2019 Newsletter 10 – You are BERRY Special

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A long time ago, in a land far, far away…just kidding, our strawberry story begins a little over 40 years ago. I was finishing up what was to be my last semester at the UW. Carol and I had decided we were going to try our hand at growing strawberries. In fact, the strawberries were ordered and everything was set to plant three acres (or so I thought). I knew so little.
I received the call at the end of March that it was time to pick up my plants from Wausau. I had 32 boxes of strawberries sitting in a cooler up north, but how was I going to get them home? I didn’t have a truck, but I DID have a ’63 Chevy Impala convertible!
Maybe this is where my nick name “Crazy Eddie” began? I purchased a piece of plywood and some ice and Carol and I headed north. We loaded those strawberry boxes on top of the plywood with the top down. This resulted in my precious cargo being four feet wide, eight feet long, and about four feet high. I tied everything down, and we slowly headed south. This was before “I-39” replaced Hwy51. I can’t imagine what people thought as they passed us.
In late April, it was time to prepare the soil. First, I worked the ground up too fine and had to get my uncle’s cultpacker to pack it back down to plant the berries. Next, it rained for several days and the soil was too wet.
Finally, around exam time at the UW, I just had to get them planted. I begged and pleaded, but could not get the professor to change the exam date for me. I offered to take it early or late, but she said no. I failed Genetics 160, a requirement for graduation. (Spoiler alert: I did take it the next semester and graduated in December).
Before we could plant the strawberries, we had to use electric knifes and cut off all the foilage they grew because they had gotten too warm over the four weeks of waiting to be planted.  I thank my mother and mother-in-law who did all the cutting. It was quite a pile once they were done! 
However, we did get those strawberries in the ground that Saturday and Sunday and it rained on Monday. Thankfully, all the plants survived!
I’ll tell you about my next learning experience next week.
Signing off until then,  
Garden Center Spotlight
Floral Feature
Saturday, March 16
What do you get when you cross a four-leaf clover with poison ivy?
A rash of good luck
Never iron a four-leaf clover, you don’t want to press your luck.
Stuffed Shells
The family doesn’t even miss the meat during Lent when I make these yummy shells bursting with cheese and spinach. You can also use the manicotti or cannelloni tubes if you prefer.
  • 32 jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Preheat oven to 350 degrees°.Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, gently place pasta shells in boiling water; bring water back to boil. Cook until noodles are just tender; drain well.
  2. Squeeze spinach dry. Combine spinach, ricotta, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, fennel, basil and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper; mix well.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  4. Fill each pasta shell with the spinach cheese mixture. Arrange the shells, filling side up in the baking dish. Spoon remaining marinara sauce over the shells. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top of the shells.
  5. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven until heated through; about 30 minutes.


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