Stopping to smell the flowers
My Easter bunny delivered baskets filled with freshly picked strawberries from Cottle Strawberry Farm at 2533 Trotter Road in Hopkins. The 18-acre berry patch with 285,000 plants has a continual supply of ripe and ripening berries over a two-month period each spring.
Families get a berry bucket and head out into fields. The sandy loam soil provides good drainage, as does the use of the annual hill system production method. Plants are set 12 inches apart in raised bed rows with 20- 24” wide trenches between rows. Trenches become the walking paths for pickers. Raised beds are covered in black plastic to control root temperatures and weeds.
Hunter, fourth generation strawberry farmer and son of Joy Cottle, owner, said when the late spring freeze threatened to kill the flowers on this year’s first crop of berries, he had farm workers cover the plants with two layers of plastic row cover rather than the usual one layer. The temperature dropped to 21°F. The tactic saved the flowers and the first crop appeared on schedule. Farmers who used only one layer of row cover, lost their first crop.
Visitors experience only the fruiting season or one-sixth of the work on a strawberry farm. When fruiting ends in June, the black plastic is removed and plants are bush-hogged before a cover crop like sorghum…
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