I went on a wonderful adventure cranberry picking in Carver, MA this past weekend -- 100 year old cranberry bogs, farms nestled in between the gorgeous foliage, I don't know a better way to spend a day!
The most surprising thing is that cranberry bogs are not actually wet year round, they're just wet for harvesting and for frost protection in the winter. The Ocean Spray commercials have certainly misled me. That, and I had always thought that a cranberry plant was more like a bush - but they're actually very short, and grow on a layer of peat and sand.
In the spring, the plants are green, flowers are put out and fertilized, and then the berries develop. At just the right time, the bog is flooded. Cranberries have four air pockets, so they float on the surface of the water, still attached to their parent plant. They're jostled by a machine, and a vacuum is used to harvest the berries into a long truck. After the cranberries are picked, the plants turn red. Not all the cranberries are extracted, especially those on the sides of the field, so these were the ones we picked, and they're the ones that help the bogs turnover and continue growing. Once the temperature reaches a chilly freezing point, sprinklers are employed to make a protective coating of ice over the bog. Sand is trucked onto each field and spread over the ice so it can slowly be distributed as the ice melts.