PART II: RURAL IRELAND TRAVEL-DREAMING ON A HOLIDAY WEEKEND. Last month on another holiday weekend we featured a ‘Matador’ article about traveling in rural Scotland.
This time around the focus is on rural Ireland. You’ll enjoy the seven must-see Irish villages Matador highlights. Don’t miss the accompanying incredible photographs! Caleb, Megan & Jim
“The Ireland of our dreams, the one that’s often pictured in rom-coms, is rural. And even though adorable thatched cottages dotting green, rolling hills, or brightly painted houses by the wild Atlantic shore are overly used in televised fictional tales, there’s some truth to them…outside of the urban areas, you’ll encounter some of the rustic aesthetic and dramatic, craggy landscapes you’ve grown to expect. The seven villages listed below will satisfy your needs if what you’re looking for is a pretty, scenic, and sometimes isolated place to explore in the Republic of Ireland, as well as in Northern Ireland.”
7 picture-perfect Irish villages we want to escape to
WILL THERE BE A SEED SHORTAGE NEXT SPRING? Several factors are in play and the bottom line remains that there is uncertainty whether vegetable seed supplies will be sufficient to meet next year’s demand by home gardeners and commercial growers.
Forest fires near seed production areas out West is one factor and that matter is the content of this new article from ‘The Counter.’
Last Spring – largely due to food security concerns (nearly a quarter of American households have experienced food insecurity THIS YEAR) heightened by COVID 19 – a whooping 16 MILLION Americans started gardening for the first time in 2020. Jars lids and vegetable seed have become HOT commodities.
Historically, seed companies typically inventory a 2-3 year supply of seed. Demand for vegetable seed SKYROCKETED beginning in early March thanks to COVID. All seed companies struggled to keep up with demand. In the case of one fairly large seed company we know, in a just few short months of dizzying, unprecedented demand they blew through their two-and-one-half year supply of seed. Caleb, Megan & Jim
“Most home gardeners don’t realize that seed growers don’t produce every variety each year. For instance, Tipping grows lettuce seed every three years and plants like squash and peppers every five years, so it will take time to re-stock his seed bank.”
Extreme wildfires in western Oregon threaten valuable seed supplies. They may take over a year to recover.
POTATO HARVEST REPORT: FROM MICHIGAN. Michigan is a longtime member of the club of Norther Tier ‘Fall-producing’ potato states.
The area around Posen – in Upper Lower Michigan near Lake Huron was settled by Polish emigrants. Generations later descendnts are still growing potatoes.
Interesting article with good photos and a video of a four-row potato harvester. Caleb, Megan & Jim
“Fourth-generation potato farmers, the brothers work the land first loved by their great-grandfather, who started a little-bit-of-everything farm after relocating from Poland.
“At harvest time — usually the middle of September through Oct. 25, in a good year — sturdy machines trundle through the fields, scooping potatoes from their underground beds…
“From the field, potatoes are trucked to one of eight controlled-climate storage facilities — curved-roof huts where 3.2 million pounds of spuds loom several stories high in the dim, cool light…
“Farming isn’t an easy business, and the potato trade is dirty, physically tiring work that waits upon the whims of Mother Nature for prosperity.
“’We’ve had some adversity and hardships along the way,’ Styma said with the understated nonchalance of a farmer. ‘But, who hasn’t?’
“This summer, while the food service portion of their business has taken a hit, sales to grocery stores have done well, Styma said.”
Posen farm works the fall harvest
SHIFTING POTATO SEED LOTS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE. High school Senior Amy Gerritsen – Caleb’s sister – backs up a front-weighted Oliver 1650 Diesel tractor. The 1650 is outfitted with forklift forks mounted on the height-adjustable three-point-hitch. The tractor is able to raise and transport out of the field a hardwood box weighing up to 2500#.
Here, Amy is removing a wooden pallet box of Adirondack Red (https://www.woodprairie.com/product/organic-certified-adirondack-red-seed-potatoes/) after we completed digging the last AdRed seed lot. One hand grips the steering wheel, the other is on the three-point-hitch control; one foot is on the tractor clutch, the other is feathers the right wheel brake.
Each year we grow about 20 varieties of organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes and that makes for about sixty seed lots representing different generations. Some lots we’ll plant back next year and multiply up, others have been multiplied up and are ready to direct-sell to our many thousands of home and market gardener customers across all 50 States. We’ve built our mail order – and now web – business over the past 30 years. Caleb, Megan & Jim
LATE SEASON IRRIGATION HELPED THIS YEAR’S ORGANIC SEED POTATO CROP ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. Late season with our new automatically retracting Bauer Hard Hose Irrigation Reel we were were able to apply two weekly one-inch doses of irrigated water from our Big Pond when the crop needed it most. That’s a one-inch stream of water being dispensed through the Bauer nozzle. In a 12-hour run it will lay down one-inch of water over the covered area.
We’ve now harvested enough varieties to confirm that even this modest amount of irrigation rendered a beneficial impact. While a potato crop wants 14″ of water – when it can get it – this year’s June-July-Aug gave us just 5.27″ or rain (46% of normal). So our 2″ of irrigation added almost 40% to the water supply this potato crop received.
Our experience demonstrated the ‘law of diminishing returns:’ the first inch was the most valuable; the second inch was the second most valuable and so on.
Interestingly, this Aroostook County record-setting drought (D3 “Extreme Drought” https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) started early on in June and potato plants responded by sending roots deep down into the subsoil where they could retrieve additional water. We expect the deep roots mitigated to some extent the yield loss to this year’s potato crop. Caleb, Megan & Jim
BULL MOOSE IN POTATO FIELD ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE. Tuesday morning we dug our Rose Finn Apple fingerlings (https://www.woodprairie.com/product/organic-certified-rose-finn-apple-seed-potatoes/) right where this Bull Moose was walking on the south side of our 2020 potato field. By mid-afternoon – when he appeared heading in a beeline eastward from the woods of TDR2 – we had shifted to working on the north side of the field where the potatoes were more dead and easier to dig.
Our year round farmhand Kenyon took this photo with his phone. He grew up in a cabin without electricity in the wilderness Baxter State Park, in the shadow of Katahdin, where his parents both worked as Rangers. Ken knows his stuff.
That same morning we’d observed the fresh tracks of a Cow Moose in the same area left the night before. The soil was otherwise perfectly smooth because on Monday we seeded it down to a crop of Winter Rye.
The Bull Moose was determined and on a mission, unaffected by the noise of our Oliver tractor pulling our potato harvester. Ken judged the Bull Moose was narrowly focused on a romantic encounter with the Cow Moose. Caleb, Megan & Jim