April showers bring May flowers and juicy berries!
The Northwest has been treating us to some unseasonable wet and cool weather this spring. It may not be so great for the people of the Puget Sound, but the local farm crops love it! Our berries love soaking up all that rain and that could mean a record early season this year. Keep an eye out on our website for opening updates! We are not the only ones seeing early crops though, California and Eastern Washington’s crops are also predicted to be weeks ahead of schedule.
To give you some perspective on how that changes the dynamics of what activities are currently taking place around the farm; we would normally begin irrigation of plants in early June but we have found it isn’t necessary to begin that process yet! Our flavorful local Strawberries and Raspberries need that water to build the unique and delicious taste that only our Northwest berries can provide.
It also means that we had to bring in our busy bees much earlier this year in order to ensure a good harvest. Right now we have 20 hives of European Honey Bees working away at pollinating our strawberries and Raspberries. Since we are always looking for natural ways to increase our berry yield, we have brought in a few hives of Mason Bees this year to see if we can use the ways of nature to increase our berries. Mason Bee Hives are kept cold until the plants begin to bloom, when they are allowed to warm up, they know it is time to get to work! Mason Bees will work diligently for about 6 weeks then they are all done and it’s time for a well-deserved rest for them. In contrast, Honey Bees will work all season long, but have a bit more of a lackadaisical approach to their work. Mason Bees are home bodies and typically only wander about 300 feet from the hive. Their normal work habits make it easy for us to see if they increase our berry yield since our fields are approximately 600 feet long. This will allow us to check the plants closer to the Mason Bee hives to see if they have flourished more than the rest of the crop. The other interesting fact about Mason Bees is that when they are busy working in a field the native Honey Bees are naturally compelled to work even harder to pollinate each and every part of the flower. This is a really big advantage since our local Honey Bee pollution does not really find berries to be one of their favorite meals on their yearly menu. The main reason that we need the bees to work hard to pollinate every part of the flower is because that assures a beautiful, well rounded berry for you!
Finally, the beekeepers love it when their bees are kept busy and stay productive because that means that they will produce much more larvae to keep the hive population large and healthy for next year!
That’s the buzz this year in our local U-pick Strawberry and Raspberry Fields so plan to swing by this summer and pick some juicy, ripe berries- here at Remlinger Farms!