Hop on over to Cottle Strawberry Farm
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 or rye is planted to restore fertility. Soil tests are taken to determine how much lime is needed to maintain a pH between 6.0-6.5.
In August, new beds and trenches are laid out. By October, new plants arrive from Prince Edward Island in Canada. The two varieties of strawberries grown this year are Camorosa and Camino, short day strawberries.
Since these varieties produce flower buds with less light and cooler temperatures than other varieties, a short day strawberry can be planted, nurtured, and produce excellent spring harvests before other varieties are ready to produce.
Strawberries, heart shaped packages loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, have been found to control three risk factors for heart disease. The folate in strawberries keeps homocysteine levels in check. The high potassium counters the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure. The soluble fiber in strawberries blocks cholesterol from being absorbed by the body. One cup of strawberries contains a mere 50 calories.
Eat your heart to health with fresh strawberries. Hop on over to Cottle Strawberry farm.