Issue of The Seed Piece:
Tending the Crop.
Dave's Garden: Garden Gate
What Did I Miss? Rocks,
Our Mailbox: Growing
Potatoes & Growing
predictably as Blackflys in June, within days of planting our last
field and the last seed potato piece ('seed piece'), it's time to tend
the earliest planted and earliest emerging potato varieties. Our first
job is to flame. Twenty years ago we found that flaming was an
effective step in controlling Colorado Potato Beetles. Now that CPBs
seem to have evolved to emerge later in the Spring, flaming achieves
minimal mortality. But way back we learned that we received the side
benefit of excellent weed control (especially in-row between the
plants) as a result of flaming. So we've stuck with the practice.
The ideal timing for weed control is at
emergence. But with wet springs this precise timing is often not
possible. The other end of the suitable flaming window is 4" potato
plant height - and that's the extreme end. We'd much sooner flame when
the biggest potatoes are 2" maximum to minimize their set back due to
On Wood Pririe Farm we use a tractor
propane flamer on a diesel tractor. If you're on a scale of half acre
or less, a simple 500,000 BTU hand vapor propane burner with a barbeque
tank works just fine. Nowadays these 'stump burners' are commonly
available (even now at Home Depot) and for $100 you are good to go. If
you're growing an acre of potatoes just buy a second flamer unit and
convince a friend that this job will be a good chance to work on your
tans together out in the fresh air.
Weed flaming doesn't take much propane and you'll
happy with the results. A week or ten days after we flame our potatoes,
we'll cultivate and fingerweed with the tractor but that's another
to see our 53 second 'Flaming' video on You Tube.
Garden: Garden Gate Keeper.
So how do you know whether you can trust a
new-to-you company for seeds or plants? Our first step is to try to
determine two points important to us: are they oragnic and are they
family scale? Unfortunately this is not as easy as it should be. Part
of this failure is because more and more big outfits are trying to pass
tehmselves off as 'family farms' or their equivalent and many are
employing such empty and ill-defined terms as 'natural' or 'safe'. In
doing so they are muddying the waters. Monsanto's description of
Roundup as 'biodegradable' caught the attention
York State's Attorney General and as a result Monsanto agreed to cease
and desist and contribute to New York's state treasury.
One valuable tool for separating the
companies and claims from the wheaty ones is the Dave's Garden website.
There you can read up on a company's reviews. The reviews are provided
by the paying customers that make purchase from thousands of garden
companies. Dave's Garden site has been around a long time and they may
well have the most extensive listings, most especially for ornamentals.
Also, a good tool for finding which company has that rare plant that
you are after. Jim.
To help you get a feel for how it
works, here's our
Wood Prairie Farm listing on Dave's Garden: http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/c/107/
Sea Salt Baked Potatoes
by Angela Wotton
Salt Baked Potatoes.
large baking potatoes, such as Butte
or olive oil
large handfuls of arugula
T Champagne or tarragon vinegar
tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 c olive oil
T grated Parmesan
tsp freshly squeezed lemon
oven to 400F. Wash the
potatoes, prick them with a
fork and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Then bake until tender,
about one hour.
the potatoes are baking,
make the dressing. Whisk the
vinegar, mustard, egg yolk, and olive oil with a big pinch of salt.
in the cheese and finally the lemon juice. Taste, make any adjustments
a big cross in the potato
and push in on the ends to
open the top. Scoop out a bit of the potato filling if you like. Add a
butter/olive oil to each potato, or a splash of dressing and a bit of
Toss the arugula with a generous amount of dressing and then pile it
potatoes. You'll likely have some leftover dressing to enjoy as needed
salad and skins.
Offer: FREE Organic Buckwheat
Cover Crop Seed.
Click here for our Organic
Farm and Cover
One of our favorite cover or green manure crops is
Buckwheat. It does well in poor soil, makes rocket-like growth,
smothers weeds with its rank biomass and dramatically improves the
tilth and friability of the soil in a matter of weeks. Last week we
planted this year's cover crop of Buckwheat. Click here
to see how
we did it on this 32 second YouTube video.
Here's your chance to earn a FREE
1/2 lbs. bag
of Organic Buckwheat Seed ($9.95 value) when you buy three bags of our
3 lbs Wood Prairie Farm Organic Fertilizer at the special price of
$26.95. You can mix and match from our four selections of organic
fertilizer: Organic Fish meal (7-11-1), Organic Potato (4-2-6), Organic
All Purpose (3-2-3) or Organic Pelletized Poultry Compost (2-4-2).
Please use Promo Code WPF1027. FREE
Buckwheat Seed must ship with your fertilizer order. Offer ends Friday
July 8. Call or click today!
down at 8 weeks after planting.
Photo by iied.org
Did I Miss? Rocks, Hart and Potatoes.
With lots going on we're using regular posts on our Facebook
wall to keep you tuned into the
Wood Prairie Organic Community.
Here are some highlights since our last Seed Piece that
want to miss. Jim & Megan.
• Peru Rocks.
In an open and inclusive display of the democratic process
working for the
people, the Peru Congress has voted 56 to 0 to impose a
moratorium on GMOs.
Read the inspiring
article in Truthout.
its hugely important organic sector have provided viable
against the introduction of GMOs..." Yay Peru!
• Wood Prairie Rocks.
Like all potato
farmers in northern Maine we pick rocks
a hand crew this time of year to clean up our fields. Watch our Sarah
with Caleb and Amy and neighbors on the ground 'picking rocks'
in this 40
second You Tube video.
With Hart. Must-watch
short documentary of English
Hart who travels America and interviews farmers who grow GMO
authentic farmer explanations on the failures of monopoly control, the
lie of 'co-existence' and
bullying in cases
of transgenic contamination. Don't miss it!
Potato Project. The Importance of "Organic".'
Over 97,000 people
video of her experiments with
and organic sweet potatoes and you should too. I watched this
wonderful two and one-half minute video with our eight
she thinks the third potato is the one she would like to eat. Me too!
to become a Friend of
Wood Prairie Farm on Facebook and
keep connected. Thanks! Jim.
Mailbox: Growing Potatoes & Growing Democracy.
Growth in Containers.
I am attaching pics of
my fingerlings so far. They were planted at different times which
accounts for the
of the plants. The bags have been folded down and I have been inching
them up as I have added
I'll send pics of my yield whenever.
see that I am growing a lot of things in my small space and I just move
my chair around and
from there. This is my largest deck garden so far, and I have some
things in pots down next to my
but only things that deer supposedly do not like.
enjoy your newsletters.
Chincoteague Island, VA
Inbox. Hi Jim & family,
Congratulations on planting in between the showers! I know you are busy
with summer coming on, but I meant to tell you how all your potato
planting suggestions make a real difference.
Our old-timer Cape Elizabeth farmer neighbor commented to me when we
were hilling our potatoes by hand (we are still figuring out how to use
the tractor without killing our huge potato plants) "I'm surprised your
plants are as big as they are given the time of year." I replied we
were doing all those things to them I'd been telling him about,
greensprouting the seed and adding beneficial fungi and soil bacteria.
He said "Well it must really give them a boost! They are twice the size
or more of anyone else's in town! We didn't know any of that when we
were younger, just put the cold seed right in the ground. I guess those
things you do really make a difference." And this from a farmer who
when he was young his parents farmed over 80 acres of the Cape and
stored cabbage, beets, carrots and blue Hubbard squash to sell to
Boston all winter. Let's just say he is impressed. And so are we!
Your seed continues to be the highest quality with no losses, first to
sprout, largest plants, gets ahead of the pests. Ours are now beginning
to flower as of last week, and before hilling the plants were above my
knees! (let's say we were late hilling them). I'll try to send a
picture as the hills are substantially impressive.
Looking forward to doubling our crop again next year.
All my best,
Cape Elizabeth ME
hear of your success and grateful that you took the time to write.
Hired gun detractors whose propaganda has been bought and paid for by
the self-serving chemical/transgenic industrial complex would
have one believe organic is inferior. Fact is, properly executed
organic farming produces the best yield (nutrition per acre)
the least real cost (vs. the exterinalized cost shifting tricks of
CTIC) while at the same time being environmentally sound and
sustainable over the long term and promoting democracy by the
poliferation of family farms and land ownership by the people. On this
planet, that's the best deal going. Jim.
While I may not always
buy something when I get your newsletter, I almost always read about
what is going on.
I have always felt that this whole
is backwards...if Monsanto's frankenstein genes land on organic farm
land, then Monsanto is the one who is trespassing and the farmer should
get restitution from Monsanto for destroying their organic crops.
What is the world coming to when the
the United States of America can just be bought and sold...so sad.
Please keep up the good work. You make us all proud!
Thanks and you're right. This is not the America
our kids about in school.
The people have always had to confront
tyrants. Now, the organic community has decided to employ our system of
law to challenge Monsanto's abuse of family farmers and their illegal
and unconstitutional misuse of the patent system. We will not let the
likes of Monsanto steal the real America from our people and our
click here for background on our lawsuit.
Just curious how growing organic,
you're able to
combat the potato beetle invasion. I only have a few rows and had to go
out a few times a day seven days a week for about three weeks to pick
off and squeeze as many larvae that I could spot. Earlier I was
catching the adults while doing the nasty and in that case I got a two
fer. I dubbed it the "Big Bang Cleanup". Fortunately my garden is right
outside my office which enabled me to frequent the plot every couple
hours but I often thought about Wood Prairie Farm and wondered how do
you all combat this problem without some kind of spraying?
Like a lot of things in nature the population of
Potato Beetles swings from increase to decline and back to increase. Up
here in northern Maine, following a decade of CPB decline beginning in
the mid-1990s, we've seen an uptick in CPB pressure the last five or
six years. Prior to the mid 1990's, in the late 1980s and early 1990's,
CPB population in the Northeast were huge, hungry and wicked. Back then
CPB did a lot of damage to crops like potatoes. There were even some
reports of crop failures on conventional potato farms in Pennsylvania
when insecticides deployed to combat CPB failed due to CPB acquired
CPBs are tough. CPBs have been eating
plants of the
poisonous nightshade family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes,
eggplant and peppers, for untold thousands of years. Today's CPBs are
the rugged decendants of many thousands of generations of nightshade
survivors. They mean business and CPBs are a major pest of potatoes
Geography plays a role. CPB were first
to have caused problems for potatoes back in 1859 when settlers planted
potatoes on the east side of the Colorado Rocky mountains. By 1865
Colorado farmers had turned to Paris green (lead arsenic) to control
CPB.. The CPBs spread East at a rate of about 85 miles per year (if you
have ever watched clumsy CPB fly - when the temperature has reached
70ºF - you will find this fast migratory rate amazing). CPB
reached the Atlantic ocean within 25 years.
The more one can geographically isolate
potato patch from last year's, the better. On Wood Prairie Farm we have
a four year rotation. Once very four years (it's coming up for us next
year) we jump from potatoes on the home farm from one year (this year)
to a field the next year that is over 600 feet away with woods, pond
and road barriers in between. When on this one field over the last 20
years we have only had to control CPBs once because most times it takes
the CPBs a year to figure out where we've moved the potatoes. But it is
a rare home gardener that has such spread out plots. And in our case we
have the geography card just once every four years.
While it won't help you out this year,
right after planting, you could cover your potato patch with
spun-bonded polypropylene row cover. This material will effectively
exclude CPBs if the edges are buried completely.
Your technique of crushing CPB is recommended.
control will succeed if you are able to continue to persevere. One year
in the late 1980's under heavy CPB pressure I protected a 500 row foot
isolated seed potato plot simply by picking CPB every second day. I
consider that row footage to be the maximum amount practical for this
hand picking technique. As you indicate it was a big job.
Finally there are two organic sprays
also at your
1. Spinosad, a somewhat selective insecticide made from the bacteria S.
spinosa. Available to organic farmers, formulated as OMRI-listed
'Entrust'; and to home gardeners as OMRI-listed 'Bull's-Eye'. http://www.groworganic.com/monterey-garden-spray-concentrate-pint.html.
2. Neem oil, a botanical, is a vegetable oil (though not used for
cooking purposes) pressed from the fruit and seeds of the Neem tree
native to India. because it has a broad spectrum insecticidal effect,
Neem should be considered a last resort. Neem has been manufactured
into several different OMRI-listed insect control products such as
Green Light Neem Concentrate. http://www.groworganic.com/green-light-neem-concentrate-pint.html.
If one is certified organic they should check with their certifier
prior to use of any new material.
Good luck. Jim.
Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm