Strawberry Fields

Let me take you down ’cause I’m going to strawberry fields. The harvest is real. Gallons upon gallons are picked every few days, and we are not selling them. Instead, we are trying to set a new Long Hungry record for desserts.

Besides simply eating too many strawberries, the kitchen crew has produced pies, tarts, cakes, cream roll ups and other red, juicy delights. We are also freezing a lot for next winter. Jams and wine seem to loom in our future as well.

Strawberries are planted in the fall. I’ve made the mistake of spring planting, and this involves a whole spring and summer of weeding. Market gardeners often follow a summer crop with a September planting of strawberries, and then pull them out after the May harvest, allowing for another summer crop. All they need is a few months of growth before winter, not a whole summer.

strawberries organic fresh red

We had some leftover landscape cloth from an old watermelon patch, and it was folded up and had slits cut into it at two feet apart. Chandler plants were set and watered a year and a half ago. Last year a beautiful harvest kept us jamming all winter, and I decided to leave the patch in. We are sure glad about that.

A floating row cover protected the plants last winter, after the runners filled up the bed. As we weeded them it looked like they were too thick. The cover was pulled off in the spring during bloom so the bees could get in there to do their thing.

Deer love strawberries, so a big fence is required. Compost is their fertilizer of choice and weeds are the main problem. Keeping the grass and other plants away allows the berry plants to thrive and take over the patch. We’ve had no other issues besides the tedious task of daily picking.

The berries are perfect, heralding the new season on the farm. Gertrude the Guernsey plays no small part in the strawberry festival, with her fresh cream, butter and yogurt. Add farm fresh eggs, some sugar and flour, and let your imagination ignore your calorie intake. There is something to celebrate everyday.

 

Strawberry patches need renovation every few years. They tend to grow up so thickly they shade each other out. Yields decrease after a few years, but runners can be transplanted to a new spot. This is how you have strawberry fields forever.

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