Monday, May 23, 2011

Bowing Out

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Okay, so maybe it's not dramatic as all that.  I doubt Frost was talking about strawberries in this poem but I love Frost and it is the end of strawberry season so it kinda goes right? 

The end is finally here.  All the battles meant nothing, this is the end, the epic showdown, the part where the valiant but flawed superhero meets the enemy twice his size and more powerful, and defeats him because he has the one thing the enemy will never have, usually love or something.  Well, this superhero story doesn't quite follow that mold because it is just me, little 'ole berry girl vs. mother nature.  Somehow I don't think all the tricks in my book are going to be able to win against 90 degree heat and humidity.

We've known this day was coming for a couple of weeks now.  When a strawberry plant endures stress, whether it's disease or hot temps or not enough water, they begin to send out runners.  We've been seeing those for quite a while now.  Some of them are even bigger and better looking than the plants.  Too bad they won't produce fruit.  Some of our plants stopped producing last week.  The berry size is getting smaller, some of the smaller ones are drying up, the blooms are burned on the edges.  It's too hot for people to come pick (and I don't blame you.  I picked some last week and let me tell you, NEVER again.  It was hot, and like the strawberry I don't do well in the blazing heat.  The Boy kept complaining about flies and mud and being hot and you name it.  Then there was all that up and down, up and down.  I believe I'd rather take out a barn of tobacco than pick and you can ask my Aunt Patricia, I wasn't so keen on that either.)
Everyone's pet peeve, dry berries
Those pesky bugs.

Nice healthy runners.
We've been irrigating them and fertilizing them under the plastic, but that won't even knock a dent in a 90 degree day.  If the air temps 90, its about 100 on that black plastic.  We can irrigate them overhead to cool them off (the idea being that the process of the water evaporating off the berries cools them down) but that's an involved process of watering them every twenty minutes or so for twenty minutes and at this point in the season we don't see the economics of it. 

And too, we've started to see more insect damage.  They like to burrow in the berries and lay their eggs (it's a rude awakening to cut into a berry and find it full of worms), eat the berries, and eat the leaves.  We can spray them, but that poses potential harm to pickers so we'd rather not worry about it. 

So we just decided to throw in the towel and let mother nature do it's thing and we'll quit while we're ahead so we can be back next year.  We've really enjoyed having the strawberries and we've enjoyed having y'all come out to the farm and pick.  We'll be starting our next crop in August, so don't worry, I will still have adventures to post even though we aren't open.  Next up for us is our corn maze (which I am super, super excited about).  I have some awesome new activities planned (did anyone say punkin' chunkin'? :)) So stay tuned to watch berry girl conquer fall!

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