Strawberry Production – This Week on the TC3 Farm – Student Post by Indigo
For me, nothing brings back Summer memories quite like fresh, sweet strawberries. Strawberries remind me of that sweet spot in the early Summer where nature is buzzing with vibrancy and warm nights go on seemingly endlessly. Before the strawberry eating beings, some work in the field needs to be done!
Last Fall we transplanted the strawberry plants into their beds and covered them to protect against the cold during the Winter months to come. Now as we enter late Spring, we go out to the field to uncover the plants. I’m happy to find that they survived and are well on their way to producing juicy fruits in the near Summer season. Last semester in the Fall, after planting, we trimmed back the extending vines, or runners, that extend from the “mother plant”, and produce new growth which eventually becomes established in the Earth. Some farms, like the one here at TC3, prefer cutting off these runner plants, as they take up more energy to grow. When runners are cut, the mother plant can focus its energy on producing berries, making them bigger and tastier, rather than making baby plants. Our farm is specifically looking to focus on the quality, not quantity of our strawberries.
Now that the plants have been well established, mulched, and cleaned up, its time to fill in the gaps! Sometimes after transplanting not all of the plants make it, or fill in empty space enough. To utilize the land as efficiently as possible, we fill in the gaps with new transplants. Our group grabs some hand trowels and head out to get digging. Todd places the single-potted transplants in the gaps to make things more quick and easy for us, it really did help in saving time! As I plunge my trowel into the Earth, I immediately notice the thick clay quality of the soil. The ground is very well saturated from the previous few days of rain. It would’ve been better to transplant when it wasn’t quite so moist, but no matter, it won’t harm the plants. Personally, I love sticking my hands in the wet soil! The cooling temperature and smooth texture feel almost like a mud-treatment on my hands, in the luxurious spa of nature.
As I dig and plant, I notice all of the worms and critters crawling about the small clods of soil. Spring has welcomed life out of the depths and back into motion, which means although the strawberries have been planted strategically, pests remain a potential threat. I remember last semester while we talked about the importance of mulching the strawberries, Taylor mentioned that the wood chips might also deter slugs and snails from munching on the plants.
Soon enough, the transplants are set in the ground and the beds are now filled in and even more beautiful! Towards the end, I even notice a few are flowering dainty white blossoms, promising warmer weather, which couldn’t come soon enough. The rows of strawberries are neat and aligned, proving our efforts to be successful in aesthetics as well as efficiency. I can just imagine the sweet ripe fruit hanging off tendrils, ready to be harvested for CSA. No doubt the new addition will be the buzz of excitement for incoming and returning members. For now, we leave the strawberries to do their work and wait for the bountiful harvests of the Summer semester!