Berry Beginnings

Posted on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 by Erin M

How to plant strawberries (No words! Just video! And an awesome song! Okay fine. A few words..but hardly any!) :

How to plant strawberries – the detailed version (No cool music…BUT…with cool words and stuff!) : 

Step One: Figure out your field plans and make sure your soil is healthy. These are done depending on what was planted where in previous years, in addition to soil samples/soil health, crop rotations and various other factors. We typically leave four years in between planting strawberries in the same fields because that’s what our crop rotation and arable land allows..but five years would be even better. We only keep the plants in the ground three years – one of which there is no production of fruit. Field plans should be done YEARS in advance of the planting year to ensure that the soil is healthy, rich and the plants will have the best chance at thriving. Different crops leech or add different nutrients from the soil so it’s important to keep track of what is planted both before and after strawberries to keep the soil healthiest and plan accordingly so that your soil has what it needs to grow what you’re planting in it. 

Step Two: Order your plantsDuring the winter we’ll order thousands of strawberry plants from a couple of different strawberry propagators (people who start plants from runners or cuttings)  in Canada. What we order will depend on how many fields we need to plant, what varieties we’re looking to grow and which berries are best suited for our soil, weather conditions, as well as other factors. 

Step Three: Get the fields ready. This is done as soon as the fields begin to dry up enough for the tractors to move around on them easily, and the guys are able to work up the fields and make sure that the soil is broken down and loose so it can be easily planted. We go over it at least a few different times…making sure that it’s worked up and ready to be planted with young new plants.

Step Four: Pick rocks. Rocks are going to be a huge pain if you try to plant with them in there – we pick rocks at least a few times before we start planting as well as after we plant!

Step Five: Monitor the weather. We can’t plant when it’s still really cold out because the small plants can be damaged easily in cold weather…but you don’t want to wait too long either. You ideally want to plant when the weather gets warm, on days that aren’t too warm so that the plants roots aren’t exposed to the sun too long as well as when there is a minimal risk of frost and cold temperatures at night.

Step Six: PLANT PLANT PLANT! We use a planter to help speed up the planting process because we’re planting thousands and thousands of plants each spring. To use our planter effectively we need seven people working in constant harmony. One to drive the tractor making straight rows, four to sit on the back of the planter placing plants into the feeders as they go ground and are placed into the ground and covered up by dirt and two to follow the planter – one for each row that is being planted to ensure that the plants are properly covered with soil and that no plants were missed or fell out.  For us, this process takes days, up to a week to get all of the plants we want to grow into the ground. On a good day where nothing breaks down, is damaged or we don’t run into other typical planting problems we can plant up to 35 000 plants in a (very long!) day of planting. On average though, we usually plant around 20 000-25 000 plants in a day.

Step Seven: Give ’em a drink! As the plants are fed into the ground they’re given a brief watering from the planter because they’ve been without water for so long, but after we’re done planting for the day we still have to set up irrigation pipes in order to give them a good long drink that they haven’t had in a while so that they can soak their roots into the soil and perk up their leaves to a nice healthy green!

…And that’s how it’s done.

Well. The strawberry *planting* anyway.

Those are just the steps to get them into the ground safe and sound. We’ve still got more than another year of work ahead of us before these plants can and will produce any fruit.

Yep. You read that right. More than twelve whole months and LOTS of more hard work before the first sweet and juicy berries are ready…but that’s another story for another time!

One thought on “Berry Beginnings

  1. Chantelle Dick

    That was really cool! I had NO idea so much work went into planting strawberries – super interesting! 🙂

    Reply

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