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Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
Saturday, July 11th, 2020
 Volume 29 Issue 10

   https://www.woodprairie.com/images/blogicon.jpg  https://www.woodprairie.com/images/youtube.png  https://www.woodprairie.com/images/instagramlogo.jpg

   Our Hot Summer.


The ‘Small Pond’ on Maine’s Wood Prairie Family Farm.

Our Small Pond is located close to our shop and nearby residence.  Its one-third acre in size and eighteen feet deep.  We dug out this pond ourselves almost twenty years ago.  It’s main function is to provide irrigation water for our organic crops.  Deep and shaded by trees, it remains cool and refreshing all Summer long and offers a great opportunity for swimming.

As you can see in this photo, this year’s hot and - so far – dry weather has caused us to pump our Small Pond down a foot.  Our other irrigation pond we began digging in 1985, and have enlarged twice up to its current 1.5 acre size.  At its deepest point the ‘Big Pond’ is twelve feet deep.

June tied a record as the driest June on record up here with just 1.16” of rain falling. May was on the dry side as well.  Meanwhile evaporative draw in June alone was 5.5”.  Until the last week, thunderstorms have been missing our farm.  However, our prospects are looking up.  In the last week two rain events dropped a welcome 1.38.”

Our new crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes looks good and is growing well.  We will begin potato harvest in late September and will start shipping orders on rainy days beginning in October.  Our seed potato crop - dug and shipped daily since Sept 2019 - is now exhausted.  All seed potato varieties are now sold out until the new crop is dug in two-and-a-half-months.  Organic Vegetable SeedOrganic Cover Crop Seed and Organic Tools and Supplies are still in-stock and we are filling your orders for those items daily.

Our website currently lists both Organic Certifed Seed Potatoes and Organic Kitchen Potatoes (for preparing to eat in the kitchen) as ‘Backordered’ items, meaning they may be ordered at anytime and we will resume shipping beginning in early October.

Thanks for your support.  Stay safe and have a wonderful Summer! https://www.woodprairie.com/images/littlemoose.png

Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
Our Best Selling Products!


     Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Caleb Unloading New Oliver 77 Tractor.  Back in May while the ground was still too cold to plant potatoes, Caleb and Jim ventured north up to Fork Kent, at Maine’s northernmost tip, to check out a 1951 Oliver 77 Gas tractor which had shown up on Craig’s List.  Turns out the owner was anxious to sell so we got ourselves a good deal.  Yet to be decided is whether we’ll run this tractor or, alternatively, strip it out for parts.   We must rebuild another tractor we’ve owned for 25 years, a somewhat newer Oliver ‘Super 77’ which needs a new engine, radiator and replacements rear wheels and tires.

Wood Prairie Hand Rock Picking Crew.  On this day in June we had finished planting potatoes early afternoon.  We decided we’d push ourselves and end the day by picking this potato field’s bigger rocks. In the photo, Caleb’s sister, Amy, is driving tractor, pulling the hydraulic-equipped dump cart.  On the ground (from left to right) are Caleb, sister Sarah and farmhand Ken.  We picked 16 rows per pass – at one thousand feet per row - and by the end of the field had generated one full cartload of 2 yards of rocks.  In decades past, we would often fill a cart with a single round trip of just 16 rows.  This is proof positive that we’re catching up on the many rocks left behind by Northern Maine’s twenty past glaciers.

Caleb Welding in the Wood Prairie Shop. In an attempt to save our backs from the repetitive stoop-labor-job of intensively hand-planting tissue-cultured Potato Minitubers into soil in our aphid-excluding screen house, we took a day to hobble together a prototype ‘Lay-Down Planting Cart.’  Forty-five years ago, Jim worked on a flower bulb farm in Brookings, Oregon.  There, the farmhands would work on a similar tractor-drawn cart featuring six pairs of what were called “Ironing Boards” which workers would lay prone on.   Our first-year-copy-cat concept was a success.  Though crude, we got the job done faster - and with less effort - than ever before.

Irrigating Newly Tranplanted Organic Seed Corn Crop on Wood Prairie Family Farm. This year’s hot and dry weather made it hard to schedule corn transplanting.  We delayed corn planting in an attempt to let the hottest days pass us by.  Finding a narrow window, we transplanted and then immediately set up irrigation to water the corn and hopefully minimize transplant shock.  The technique worked well, and this year’s crop of Organic Dorinny Sweet Corn Seed is looking good.

Amy Gerritsen Moving Tulip Crates with Clark Forklift. Our friend, Tim, at ColorBlends in Connecticut imports flower bulbs from Holland.  He has graciously supplied us with these versatile plastic ‘Tulip Crates.’  We use them for just about everything, especially handling seed potatoes and plants in the Spring and then in the Fall for potato and corn work.  We try to palletize everything we can to cut down on effort and labor.

Goose the Cat on Truck with Caged Water Tank. These pallet-mounted ‘caged water tanks’ hold 275 gallons of water and are incredibly useful. Tanks typically have an 8” capped opening on top and a threaded two-inch shutoff valve at bottom.  Here, yearling ‘Goose’ (“Gray Goose”) navigates the bed of an old 4WD Ford F150 used for years as a ‘Yard Plow Truck’ (Maine vernacular for a truck no longer roadworthy nor able to pass State Vehicle Inspection, but perfectly suitable for plowing snow in one’s own yard).  That Ford truck is now a water truck for our cows and hogs.

Wood Prairie Irish Dexter Cows on Pasture. Every farm generates waste.  On our organic seed farm, our potato culls (‘grade-outs’) are waste-converted-to-resource by being fed to our Dexter cows and American Guinea Hogs.  Both are heritage breeds and famous for converting fiber (like grass, hay and cull potatoes) into protein with minimal grain.   That field these Dexters are grazing has been in Clover/Timothy sod for a couple of years.  It will be rotated and planted to produce Organic Certified Seed Potatoes next year.

Wildflowers on Wood Prairie Family Farm. Colorful wildflowers add to beauty on well-designed organic farms, providing important insect habitat.  Beneficial predator insects hold in check harmful pests. It’s been written that on a healthy, diversified organic farms, 90% of the insects in a field are beneficials which help to control crop damaging pests like aphids. On our farm, yellow ‘Buttercup’ flowers often compliment the purple flowers of wild legume, ‘Cow Vetch.’  https://www.woodprairie.com/images/littlemoose.png

Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox