In This Issue of The
Wood Prairie Seed Piece:
|This edition of the Seed
Piece may be
found in our Wood Prairie
Seed Piece Archives.
Farmers Dive Into Shipping Season.
While we have been
shipping our specialty Organic
Seed Potatoes ever since we dug the
first spuds back in September, this is the month when
the pace really picks up. That fine crop from last
Summer has been kept safe and sound in our on-farm
underground Potato storage. And we’ll continue
shipping continuously, every week until July.
The colorful map above
details the Shipping Schedule we’ve refined over the
past 35 years. It shows the weeks we normally schedule
to ship Organic
Seed Potatoes to many thousands of
customers like you who farm and garden in each of the
50 States we serve.
In this issue of the Wood
Prairie Seed Piece we share
with you Farm Photos and stories about
Winter in Maine. As well, we introduce you to three
outstanding NEW! Organic
Herb Seed varieties we are now
offering. Plus, we’ve included a patterns-of-history Notable
Quote by Winston Churchill.
Also, scroll down to How-To
Garden Resources and find a link for a FREE
handbook you won’t want to miss, from our
friends at the Potato Association of America (PAA), Commercial
Potato Production in North America.
As you may know by now, we’ve
been farming organically for just shy of 50 years.
Right from the very start, ever since we began our
mail order and web Organic
Seed business 35 years ago, EVERYTHING
we grow and EVERYTHING we
sell has ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS been
Certified Organic. We are your Organic Experts
and we’re here to help you! Organic
Seed Potatoes, Organic
Sweet Potato Slips, Organic
Vegetable Seed, Organic
Herb Seed, Organic
Flower Seed, Organic
Cover Crop Seed, Organic
Fertilizer, and Tools
We’re grateful for your
support of our Maine Organic family farm. Stay Safe
& Stay Warm!
Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Chives. 80 Days.
Early and delicate Onion-flavored Herb!
Gorgeous, aromatic with wonderful
Indispensable culinary mainstay in Pizza
and Pasta. Use fresh or dry!
Maine Tales. Careening to
Extremes. Caribou, Maine. Circa
of Maine Snowstorms.
Some snowfalls in Northern
Maine come without a lick of wind and the snow adheres
to tree branches in an unbelievable and beautiful
manner. Other storms deliver their snow
horizontally, collecting into huge drifts.
Causing one to wonder how in the world the fellers at
the Weather Office in Caribou can keep a straight face
when reporting authoritative snowfall values.
This resting tractor from our fleet of Olivers has
greeted Aroostook County snow for sixty Winters.
sir! Sure-as-shootin' it CAN snow at
The old-timers were keen
observers and prognosticators of the weather
They had to be. Sea-faring mariners took their
lives into their own hands when they left safe harbors
and set out to fish ocean waters. Before the days
of satellites, internet, television, radios and
telephones, for those who lived and worked on the land
or sea, the need to understand the weather was
critical and much more than pleasant chit chat for
In 1900, 40% of the people in
the United States lived on farms, and 60% lived in rural
areas. Nowadays, we’re down to 1% of Amercians
living on farms and about 20% who reside in rural
America. To those who work outside in the
elements, getting a handle on the weather often
separates success from failure
, and sometimes life
An unexpected rain would spoil
hay, a surprise frosty Fall night could ruin a Tomato
crop and early snow might even prevent a Potato, Corn or
Soybean field from getting harvested. And so,
drawing upon a vast wealth of experience – their
own and those who came before – and as keen
observers and skilled distillers of patterns
old-timers coined phrases which tersely summed up the
weather at hand. “Red sky at night, sailor’s
delight.” “As the days lengthen, the cold
strengthens.” “It’s too cold to snow.”
Record Book Cold
With relentless cold from beginning to end, January 1994
was destined to become a monumental month for the record
books. That month’s lowest temperature dipped to
-32ºF on January 26, tying the sixth lowest temperature
on record. But the truly big story was that days
and nights remained cold during the entire month without
relief. For the first time ever, since
weather records began to be collected in Caribou in
1939, the average temperature for the entire month
fell below zero, to -0.7ºF.
To this day that
prize for the coldest month ever remains intact.
We remember that January
well, because for four consecutive weeks we were
shut down and unable to ship our perishable, freezable
Prior experience had
taught us that our packages would either freeze before
they got out of the State of Maine or they would freeze
somewhere in transit. And so we sat. When
that February arrived, the weather began to break.
It took us that whole month to catch back up shipping
out new orders plus the ones we couldn’t ship in
Exception to the
Our old-timer farmer-neighbor
Doss Morse (born in Bridgewater in 1899) was fond of
repeating a phrase he had learned from his father, “It’s
too cold to snow.” This phrase utilizes the truism that
Maine cold typically comes in association with clear and
dry weather. Here, snowstorms warm things up
and some of our best Winter weather will be a sunny
day warmed up nice just ahead of a new snowstorm.
In fact, from a Mainer’s vantage, the difference between
North and South is that snow in the North means warming
weather, whereas snow in the South means it’s turning
We never took issue with Doss’ mantra
of it being “too cold to snow.” That had been our
experience as well. But as Cicero implied over
two-thousand years ago, the “exception that proves the
rule” will one day come. The exception
happened to arrive in Maine during the month of
January 1994. One cold evening, before
bedtime the temperature had already dropped down to
-18ºF. And it had commenced snowing ferociously.
It can’t hurt to look over
your shoulder every so often to try and avoid getting
smacked in the head by an unexpected exception.
Caleb, Jim & Megan
1 1/4 c heavy cream
Potato and Celery Root Gratin.
1/4 c whole milk
1 small Amber
2 large Red
Russian Garlic cloves, smashed
Butter, for greasing baking dish and foil
1lb celery root, peeled and halved
1 1/2lbs Yukon
Gold potatoes, peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 ounces aged Gouda cheese, grated
Bring the heavy cream, milk, onion halves, and garlic to a
boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and let steep
for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Generously butter an 8-inch square
baking dish and one side of the foil. Using a sharp knife or
mandoline, thinly slice celery root and potatoes. In
prepared dish, arrange a layer of celery root and potatoes.
In a prepared dish, arrange a layer of celery root slices
followed by a layer of potato slices; season to taste with
salt and pepper. Repeat layers two more times.
Remove onion and garlic from cream mixture and discard. Pour
mixture over casserole. Cover pan with prepared foil and
transfer to oven. Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove foil and sprinkle top of gratin with the chese.
Return to oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 15
minutes more. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.
Family Farm Photos.
Weather Pendulum Swings in Northern Maine.
January was mild for Northern Maine. As a result of
temperatures averaging 19.0ºF, or 7.3ºF above normal, last
month ranked as the fourth warmest January on record. Down
in the other Maine, Portland at 7.3ºF above normal and
averaging 31.5ºF joined nine other northeastern cities
which had their very warmest January ever recorded. As
soon as the calendar flipped pages to February, so did the
weather. Last weekend turned record cold. Frigid
temperatures were accompanied by strong continuous winds
for most of forty-eight hours. The local Weather
Office in Caribou warned that we were due for a “Ground
Blizzard” and further described our cold snap as an
“Extreme Arctic Blast.” This photo was taken around the
cold snap’s halfway point and it shows our weather station
monitor at 5:38am on Saturday, February 4. The temp was
-20ºF plus there was an unrelenting wind from the East,
clocked here at 21 mph. We had shut down shipping our Organic
Seed Potatoes in advance of this
exhaustively forecast cold weather event. Then this week
warmed up to typical Winter weather as we slid back into a
snowy weather pattern. Undeterred by snow, working with
our crew, we were able to ship every day and are now
completely caught up with orders.
Past Poplar Pulpwood.
by energetic Australian Shepherd, Oakley, Megan is
decked out in her snow suit. She cross-country skis
across a snow-plowed field road. Beside Megan is a pile
of ‘semi-tree-length’ Poplar which Caleb and Justin
recently cut. The field beneath and beside the pulpwood
will be one of the home farm fields where we will be
planting our 2023 crop of Organic
. Our piles of
pulpwood are headed to the mill to be chipped and made
into Maine paper.
We’re waiting our turn for our
local independent pulp truck driver to come out and load
it onto his truck with his grapple loader. The pay price
is up this Winter and true to supply and demand theory,
there is more Poplar being cut. So the waiting line is
longer to get it hauled away. Pay price is based on a
weighed 5000-pound-cord. There isn’t much evaporation
this time of year with the wood being frozen. Come
Spring and Summer evaporation becomes a factor and
loggers like their wood picked up fresh to minimize
weight loss and a resulting thinner paystub.
Blue Flax Growing
on Wood Prairie Family Farm.
A shot taken last Fall during October when Maine
was still lush, green and unfrozen. Organic
is one of the dozen flower
varieties we mix together and use in the Beneficial
Flower refuges we plant in and around our fields of Organic
. The refuges nourish
and protect Beneficial Insects which help control and
eat problem pests often encountered in a garden or on
Most of the insects in a garden are in
fact, Beneficials. If we help them out, they help us
out. And we humans get pretty flowers to admire. Seems
like a good deal all around!
Churchill on History.
Quick Links to
Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 / 207
(429) - 9682
Certified Organic From Farm to Mailbox