Yesterday was an interesting convergence of harvests….I think we picked the last of the strawberries on the same day that blueberry picking started!
Before leaving the subject of strawberries, I just want to mention that we had a month, to the day, of strawberry picking – May 19th thru June 19th. After the heavy rain we had on Monday (1.8 inches) we picked a little less than a pound yesterday. The rain was a factor because the field was too wet to pick on Monday or Tuesday and any fruit that was out there on those days was over wet/ripe by today. Had we not had that rain, I’m sure we would have broken the 160 pound mark for the year but alas, we ended up with 159 pounds, 4oz of strawberries! The extremes of last year’s drought and this year’s flooding conditions are almost too much to comprehend. Frankly, I felt a bit more in control with last year’s drought than this year’s overwhelming rain amounts.
The first blueberry picking was done yesterday by Kate, who is visiting from California. She is always eager to jump in and help with any farm chores and this visit is no exception. On her last visit we had the added help of her fiancee, Jason Ward. Here they are, ready to help with the potato weeding and ‘hilling’.
We planted Yukon Gold and Pontiac Reds and with 110 starts, we should have about 1,000 pounds of potatoes to harvest this year. These plants are enjoying all the rain!
Back to the blueberries…We are struggling with the netting we currently have on the blueberries. As these shrubs have grown over the last two years, we have altered our protective netting for the fruit. This year, with the threat of our first serious crop, we are up against a voracious bird population and their intent to undermine our harvest. The issue at hand is that we are using a netting of a certain size and the coverage of our plants is on the edge of the net size vs. bed size. The reason this is an issue is that our blueberry shrubs have shot up in height and so we now have to provide netting for 5 foot tall plants in beds that are 35 feet long. The largest standard netting is 14’x45′ which just barely covers one of the five beds. We have also found that all netting brands are not the same! We much prefer the Bird-X brand and can get it more reliably on line.We are trying to keep the nets off the plants so we have tall stakes around the perimeter to support the net. We are considering other options but hope to win the battle of the birds vs. berries.
Our blueberry plants are the high bush variety, (five different cultivars – listed here in order of their ripening sequence: Patriot, Blue Ray, Blue Crop, Jersey and Elliot) so we currently ‘open’ the enclosure at one of the ends of the beds by pulling the netting aside and picking the fruit while walking (stooped for this tall clan) along inside the net enclosure. Kate picked 11.5 oz of blueberries yesterday from three of the varieties…just a hint of what is to come.
Here is proof that when we brag that these are as large as a nickle, we aren’t exaggerating!
I spent the early morning hours weeding the front beds – another consequence of all the rain – while Kate and Dave dead-headed the roses.
We also had a house call from our resident horticulturist, Mary Ellen Hetenyi, who was concerned about the recent rosette virus that is attacking the rose population…even the hardiest of varieties such as ours, the Double Knock-Outs. She did an inspection today and declared us free of disease but we are now on alert and will be careful to keep on top of this issue.