The first crop of strawberries at Catapano Farm in Southold is ready for harvest. (Credit: Cyndi Zaweski)
Is there a sweeter sign that summer is coming than the return of North Fork strawberries?
Juicy, ripe and red; these berries typically begin making an appearance on local farm stands starting in late May or early June, but you won’t have to wait quite that long if you visit Catapano Farms in Southold.
Fresh strawberries at Catapano Farms. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
Neal Catapano has figured out a way to harvest strawberries about six weeks before the traditional season on the North Fork begins.
He grows strawberries at his farm in Southold in a cold frame under a woven fabric cloth in order to trick the plants into flowering and bearing fruit early.
“We don’t call them greenhouse strawberries because people associate greenhouse grown fruits and vegetables with the terrible greenhouse tomatoes the supermarkets sell all winter,” Catapano said. “These strawberries are grown in the soil, with natural compost fertilizer, covered with a special blanket for the winter and covered again by a cold frame. The extra warmth makes the strawberries think they are in the Carolinas.”
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