Many people don’t even think about strawberries until the warm sun of June starts to toast their bare shoulders, however, at the Jones Family Farms, we can assure you that strawberries are thought about with our sweatshirts, jackets, gloves and ski caps on!
Starting in late November, Terry and the crew lays a bed of hay (grown here at the farm) over all the strawberry fields in both our Valley Farm and up on Pumpkin Seed Hill. Terry can always be heard saying “There are two crops for strawberries, the berry crop themselves, and our hay crop.”
The hay serves as a nice warm blanket for the berry bushes during the winter. Strawberries are perennials which means that they will flower year after year for the life of the plant. Now, you’re probably reading this and thinking to yourself; “Wait a minute, did he say flower?” Why yes, I did. Not many people know this but the strawberry is not a fruit at all, technically speaking, but a flower part! The true fruits of the strawberry plants are what look to be the seeds on the surface of the berry. Each tiny “achene”, as they are called, is an individual fruit containing a single seed.
Once late March rolls around, this hay needs to be removed. The hay is carefully removed and placed between the rows of plants, where it forms the comfortable cushion for all you pickers out there to kneel on at harvest time.
How is this done you ask? We use a large tractor with a special type of mower on the back. This mower very gently removes the layer of hay from the top of the berries and spreads the hay out in either direction away from the bushes.
Watch this video, from earlier this week, to see Billy and Terry in action with the tractor removing the hay.
Once the hay is removed, you can now see the strawberry plants, still green, underneath. Now the plants will resume their growth, and by May the fruit buds will have emerged and will burst into flowers. We will be tracking this happy little strawberry bush, which is located up on Pumpkin Seed Hill, every two weeks or so on this blog. Keep coming back to check on the growth of our little friend.
Do you have questions or comments about what you just read? Do you have a name we should use for this strawberry plant as we watch it grow? Do you want to share them? It’s easy, just click the link below that says “comments” and leave your message.
There a whole lot of activity going on at the Farm these days, so come back real soon for another update from Jones Family Farms.