Berries and onions...that's been the focus on the farm this week. Strawberries are only productive for 3-4 years before they need to be removed and replaced, and ours turned 4 this spring. When we initially started our berry patch, we planted 500 strawberries. As we've grown over the years, they've become a favorite amongst our CSA members and restaurants in town. To keep up with demand we decided to plant around 1 acre of berries: 6,000 strawberries, 200 red raspberries, 100 yellow raspberries, and 100 blackberries. We've learned several things over the past 3 years of growing strawberries, and thus made several changes to our berry production method. The biggest change is the use of a red plastic film over our beds. This will keep the strawberries off of the soil, and thus improves food safety, confuses birds by camouflaging the ripe berry, and reflects specific light waves (IR), which produces a larger berry and overall greater yield.
We also selected several different varieties so that we can have and extend harvest season. An ever bearing type was added...this should give give us strawberries at other times of the year than just early summer.
We finished up the onions just before the big storm hit. This year it will take 15,000 onions to keep our CSA members happy. We managed to get them all planted in 2 days, an amount of time that I am quite happy with considering they all had to be hand transplanted.
Onions went into metallized mulch. Research has shown that silver mulch reduces the incidence of center rot, which claims about 20% of our onion crop each year. Center rot is a difficult disease to manage because there are no signs of infection until the onion has matured, has been harvested, and then cured. Only then does it show you evidence of infection. Last year the number of cull onions seemed to increase, and consequently, we didn't have as many onions for our CSA members as we wanted to have. So, this year we are trialling the metallized mulch, as well as just planting 20% more onions than what we actually need. Who knows, maybe this will be the year for an onion bumper crop 😊.
Until next week,