Sunday, May 29, 2016

Our Organic Strawberries 2016!

I cannot even express how excited we are about this year's strawberry crop.  I still don't like to talk too much about them, boast or brag, as harvest has not begun and I always worry when stuff looks so darn nice that we'll get a blast of stupid hail or something.  Now, that's thinking positive!  lolol
Anyhow, they are coming along and there should be a lot of fruit out there this season - hopefully!
Our little strawberry Sadie sitting in the patch 2016.
Organic strawberries are not easy to grow and take a lot of time and patience.  For this patch we purchased three different varieties last spring from G.W. Allen nurseries in Nova Scotia. We've bought plants from this nursery in the past and love the quality of these hardy perennials. Choosing the right varieties for our winters and growing season is very important.  They are shipped dormant and look like shriveled up half dead frozen plants when they arrive.  Definitely  not much to look at but have a nice strong root system.
dormant strawberry plants spring 2015
 I've blogged about this before in June 2012 to explain where our plants come from:
" The plants came from G.W. Allen in Nova Scotia. Certified Organic plants are not readily available, so we do buy the conventional ones. So last year we got the shipment of 'druggy' dormant plants and planted them in our organic soil. I look at this process as like 'rehab' for the young strawberries plants! They root down into organic compost rich soil, are weeded by hand and cultivated. We also bed them down with organic straw! By this year when they began to blossom and grow they were just fueling themselves with all organic goodness! The patch was alive with bees and critters and most importantly NO chemical CRAP like fungicides or pesticides have been dumped on them!!! Organic strawberries smell amazing!"
That about sums it up for this years oncoming crop!! One day, yes, I want to try growing organic plants from seed myself.  A nice heritage variety. This is another big job that is not an easy one.  I need to do a lot of research into properly growing them and making sure I can actually grow hardy perennial varieties before I can tackle a new job like this one. 

Men planting the strawberries spring 2015
The plants were planted in 'Field 101' nestled in by a big fence row in our rich sandy loam organic dirt that was built up over the years via crop rotations and rich organic cow manure.  The two biggest challenges to growing organic strawberries for us is making sure we have healthy, fertile soil to sustain a perennial crop for a minimum of 2 years and keeping the weeds from taking over.   This is simply because we DO NOT apply a chemical fertilizers at any time during the growth of the crop.  We plant one row giving each plant enough soil to thrive within. Trying to fit in twin rows to ramp fruit production would pull more fertilizer than we can naturally provide.  So our patch is still lush, but not overly exuberant with mass plants for this reason. We DO NOT apply any herbicides to get rid of weeds in the patch.  We also DO NOT use any type of fungicides to deal with disease issues that may arise.   We are very very proud to social media the hell out of the fact that our strawberries are #sprayedwithabsolutelynothing!  This includes any type of sea kelp as a fertilizer or any approved pesticides or fungicides.  Nothing. Nada.  We simply make sure our plot of land is vibrant and healthy well before planting.  
Our organic straw 2015 
And yes, the straw we use on our strawberries is our own and is organic too! We overwintered the straw next to the patch and applied it this spring 2016.  We've started applying the straw in the spring instead of the winter.  Ben likes to cultivate to keep the patch clean and we do a lot of hand weeding and hoeing in the spring as well before the straw goes down.

Jessie cultivating berries 2015
Maintenance!!! Our strawberries were cultivated, hand weeded and hoed numerous times during 2015!  It is essential to keep the patch clean.  It's hard as we were SO busy with other crops but must think a head and dedicate time to the berries in anticipation for the 2016 crop!
Laying down the straw this spring 2016
So, here's hoping we get a bountiful harvest to share with all you lovely locals out there! Here's a picture of our Jewels from 2009.... the countdown is on.  Our organic field berries will be ready in a couple weeks! And please, please keep in mind and remember that in our organic strawberry patch: Slugs, Bugs, Birds and Bees, (and sometimes baby bunnies) roam free, so don't freak out if you find a half eaten berry in your quart!  We try very hard to sort out and compost the chewed on fruit!! 


Jewel variety we grew in 2009