This year, the boys decided to rig-up our water wheel to plant them instead. The water wheel hooks up to a tractor with a creeper gear, which just means that the tractor can inch along very, very slowly. We can go a bit faster when we plant things like peppers, but since strawberry plants have bare roots, it takes a bit more time to properly insert them in the dirt. Two people can sit on the back at a time and plant the roots. As the tractor moves along, it also deposits water into the newly formed holes. If you're far away, it's hard to tell if the tractor is even moving at all! It's still a bit hard on the back, but, this is a farm after all. We can't have it too easy.
We still, however, harvest all the strawberries BY HAND. So if you've ever wondered to yourself why a pint of local strawberries costs a small fortune, the labor behind it is part of the answer. We also pinch off all the first blossoms from the new plants BY HAND because we want the plant to have enough time to establish itself before bearing fruit. Plucking all of those dainty white blossoms is sort of heartbreaking, until you are on plant 873 and all you can think is, "I never want to see another damn dainty blossom in my life again!" After about 3-4 years, a strawberry plant is at the end of its life. The berries shrink in size as the plants age, and they will begin to yield less and less. And so the cycle continues.
Since we had such a cold, bitter start to the spring, our berries will probably be a bit later this year. But hang in there...they are worth the wait!