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.
Prairie Potato Crop Proceeding on Schedule.
We’re keeping to schedule
and on on-track to finish pre-grading our entire crop
Maine Certified Seed Potatoes by the
middle of January. We’re past the three-quarters mark
and have graded enough spuds to verify this is one
high quality crop of Seed Potatoes!
Pre-grading allows us to
determine with precision what Seed Potatoes we have
both available to sell and available for us to plant
back. Pre-grading also allows us the advantage of
making a quick final inspection of Potatoes just
prior to bagging them up and shipping out your
orders so that we know your Seed will be in tip top
As you can see, Potato
grading is dusty work. In this shot, after a day of
working with the crew grading Potatoes, Jim spends the
evening in our underground Potato House recording the
contents of boxes of graded seed and putting them
away in an organized fashion so each variety is
immediately accessible when needed for shipping.
Jim is driving our reliable old-timer Yale Electric
forklift which has been working down in this cellar
continuously for 24 years. We just replaced the 1500#
lead-acid battery after its predecessor had served us
for 13 years.
With this issue of the Seed
Piece we introduce a NEW section we're
calling How-To Gardening Resources which will
offer you terrific opportunities to help you build
even better success in your garden. Featured
this week are links to some of the country's best and
most popular Gardening Podcasters as they dive into
everyone's favorite subject: Growing Potatoes!
Your new Catalog should have
arrived in your mailbox by now. If yours got lost in
the mail, just give us a call and we’ll send another!
Our online Webstore has even more offerings than we
are able to fit into the Catalog. The Webstore
has ALL of our offerings of Organic goods.
As has been our way for the
almost 35 years we’ve run our Farm-Direct Mail Order
business, EVERYTHING we grow and sell
is Certified Organic. EVERYTHING! Organic
Seed Potatoes, Organic
Vegetable Seed, Organic
Herb Seed, Organic
Flower Seed, Organic
Cover Crop Seed, Organic
and Supplies and Organic
All the best in the New Year! Stay Safe & Stay
Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
|NEW! Organic Filderkraut.
Heirloom Kraut Variety from Southern
Germany. Grown Since the 1700s. Excellent
||NEW! Organic Amber.
Long Day Yellow Onion for the North! Good
|NEW! Organic Black Cherry.
modern OP Cherry Tomato with delicious
Maine. Circa 2012.
Side Boom Rock Picker.
Our New Brunswick
farmer-friend Rex Beckwith searched far and wide and
eventually found this awesome Side Boom Rockpicker for
us. The tractor PTO (Power Take Off) drives the
Rock Picker lags. The lags shake, the soil drops
through the gaps in the 'hook chain.' The rocks
get conveyed upwards and feed into the side boom which
empties rocks into a dump truck which travels along
side the Rock Picker. On a regular basis the odd
rock would somehow get stuck in the crotch of the side
boom lags and let out a Kaboom! loud enough to wake
the dead. The startling Kaboom served as
indication the rock had somehow regained its freedom.
as it may be, there’s no escaping the fact that a Maine
farmer’s first marriage will always be to rocks.
There might have been a time when Northern Maine wasn’t
rock strewn but that would have been quite awhile back.
Over eons massive glaciers have left plenty of rocks
behind. That last glacier retreated northward from
this area 10,000 years ago.
What we do know is that Northern Maine has some pretty
nice soil for growing potatoes, once you haul the rocks
off a field. Rocks are patient teachers. Some lessons do
come with pain. Farmers have learned rocks bruise up
potatoes and bust up farm machinery. Some ground
is thick with rocks, and other ground maybe not so much.
Not to brag, but our farm - on the edge of the Maine
North Woods – is loaded with rocks and is known to be
the rockiest farm in Town
One Little Field
Some years back we cleared the trees off one four-acre
field that had been allowed to grow back to woods
seventy years before. We knew this history because
we saw the rock piles and counted the tree rings on
the stumps after we cut the trees down. This field
is the one we now call New Big South West #3 or SW#3 for
short. As we pulled the stumps out, we came to learn
there was a staggering amount of rocks to contend with.
We believe sheer rock density is the reason why the
old-timers grew discouraged and abandoned this field
they had worked so hard to clear of trees.
Fortuitously, after years of searching we had come to
purchase a nowadays rare
side-boom-lag-style-rock-picker in good condition.
These rock-picking machines with side booms were fairly
popular back in the 1960s as farmers were scaling-up and
grew real serious about removing rocks out of potato
Day after day we crept along with that side-boomer,
accompanied by our 12-yard dump truck driving alongside
in tandem, and accepting its rock-to-metal thunderous
pandemonium. Before it was fit to farm, we hauled
700 yards of rocks off that one little field. It’s
now a nice little field with woods bordering on the west
and south. We’ve grown some nice crops of potatoes on
it, though of course, to this day it’s anything but free
Mike Brown's Legacy
About ten years back Aroostook County lost one of its
most respected, retired potato farmers in the Town
just to the south of Bridgewater. That would be the Town
of Monticello (“Mont-Tee-Sell-O” unless you find
yourself in a big hurry, then it tends to come across as
Old Mike Brown was a good farmer, a hard worker and a
leader in his Town. Like everybody in this country, he
grew potatoes for most of his 81 years. And if you
grow potatoes in Northern Maine, as Mike did, there is
no deliverance. You get to know your rocks. Here
is a verbatim excerpt from the obituary of this potato
man, printed up in the local paper.
“He was always a
farmer at heart who believed in putting back into
the ground more
than he took away. He upgraded the land with miles
of drainage tile, sod ditches, strip
cropping and picking and disposing of millions of
rocks and rocks and rocks.”
Caleb, Jim & Megan
Recipes: Home Made Potato Chips.
4 medium potatoes (such as Elba),
peeled and sliced paper-thin
3 tablespoons salt
1 quart oil for deep frying
Place potato slices into a large bowl of
cold water as you slice. Drain, and rinse, then refill the
bowl with water, and add the salt. Let the potatoes soak in
the salty water for at least 30 minutes. Drain, then rinse
and drain again.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 365ºF. Fry
potato slices in small batches. Once they start turning
golden, remove and drain on paper towels. Continue until all
of the slices are fried. Season with additional salt if
desired. Enjoy them while they're hot!
Family Farm Photos.
Christmas for Northern Maine. After
a warm Fall we’ve been yoyoing back and forth between
snowfalls and melting rains. December temps shook out as
slightly higher than normal and snowfall was somewhat
lower. With La Nina expected to remain active,
predictions are Northern Maine will get at least as much
snow as last year’s 120” or the previous Winter’s
108”. This shot was taken in the aftermath of a one-foot
snowfall received before Christmas. Caleb is in the New
Holland Skidsteer Loader back-dragging snow away from the
Potato Storage entry. Behind him, Justin
is pushing snow with a maneuverable Boss 8-Foot V-Blade
Plow attached to our Ford F250 4-Wheel Drive ‘Yard Truck.’
The F250 has ice-tire-chains on all four wheels. Working
together and playing each machine to its strengths, the
big job goes more than twice as fast.
Putting Up Green
Metal Siding onto the 'New' Warehouse.
For over a year Caleb has been trying to find the
time to get the siding up on the huge ICF (Insulating
Concrete Forms) warehouse we built last year adjacent to
packing shed. The fact is, the
labor shortage in agriculture began before Covid, but
Covid has cranked up the challenge substantially higher.
So like a lot of farmers who are also short-handed,
we’ve been pushing hard in order to keep up
this photo Caleb (brown insulated coveralls) and Justin
picked a perfect partly-sunny day in which the temps got
up to the high twenties (+20ºF) to make good progress on
this siding project. Our long term strategy has been to
invest to become ever more efficient so that whatever
help we do have can find their work on our Potato
farm less taxing, more enjoyable and ultimately more
Ralph & Rudy
in Their Mobile Play Pen.
of the benefits afforded to mechanics like Caleb is that
their ears are always to the ground and they run in
circles which generate leads and remarkable deals. Not
long ago Caleb picked up this large Ford Excursion for a
good price. As he drives it around the farm he is able
to troubleshoot its idiosyncratic eccentricities. While
he’s finding and solving the automotive quirks, his and
Lizzi’s extremely obedient dogs have gained
themselves a perfect safe haven
when there is a
lot of commotion from trucks and equipment driving
around. ‘Ralph’ (left) is a gentle 18-month old
Rottweiler, weighing in at 145#. Beside him is loveable
8-month-old Cane Corso ‘Rudy,’ already filling out and
now up to 120#. They have fast become best friends, and
as you can see one is rarely very far from the other.
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