POTSDAM — Is anything sweeter than a summer strawberry? At Martin’s Farmstand, 11 Needham Road in Potsdam, customers can pick their own when the season begins in a few weeks.
Co-owner Daniel Z. Martin predicts a decent harvest this year.
“Over a 10-year period of time with strawberries, around seven of the seasons will be good or ordinary. One or two will be record-breaking, and one or two will be a bust,” he said. “We’re on track to have one of the seven good years.”
So far, he said, the plants are blooming and setting fruit normally.
Although he couldn’t say exactly when enough strawberries will be ready for customers to pick, he said strawberry season typically starts around mid-June and ends the first week of July.
“In the last 25 years I’ve been doing this, 20 of those years we’ve opened for picking the first time between the 14 and 19 of June and ran until about July 5 or 6,” he said.
These dates, he said, aren’t for the first and last ripe strawberry, but rather for when there’s a significant amount for the public to pick.
Many factors contribute to the state of the strawberry season, Mr. Martin said.
“During strawberry season, I like to see a mix of rain, but not so much that the ground is lingering wet,” he said. “Then you want sunshine and moderate temperatures, not too hot, during the time period when strawberries are sizing, which is now.”
During sizing, he said, the plants need around two inches of water a week.
“Another important thing is some cool, quiet days like today,” he said Wednesday. “It slows the ripening down but gives time for the berries to size and more time for sunshine to hit the leaves and create available sugars.”
“Everybody says we need the sun for the strawberries, and we do, but not that much that fast, as it doesn’t make for the best possible quality or quantity,” he added.
Quality, to the Martin family, is paramount. They employ all-natural growing techniques and abstain from pesticides and chemical enhancers. Mr. Martin insists this produces the best berries possible, and thinks others flown in off-season from across the planet pale in comparison.
Adherence to this philosophy is so important to Mr. Martin that he’d rather sacrifice plants to pests than soil them with poisonous pesticides.
“Our fall raspberry crop has been terrible the last few years,” he said, because of a variety of fruit fly which has devastated them. “I’m doing everything naturally, so I don’t have any good solutions for them.”
That’s why, he said, his summer raspberry season has taken on more importance. The summer raspberry season begins around mid-July and runs for two weeks. Customers can come pick those, too.
Besides berries, Martin’s Farmstand sells other produce grown on the farm and by other local growers.
“We have a complete selection of almost everything in the seed catalog beginning in May to the end of winter,” he said. “The signature crop of focus right now is asparagus, but we also have scallions and rhubarb.”
“We’re a unique one-stop shop,” he said, “and have the finest produce.”
Martin’s Farmstand is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.