Prairie Seed Piece
April 8th 2016
24 Issue 08
Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:
Season Coming Up. That would be the outdoor
work season. As the photo above shows work goes on in Maine in the
Winter. On a Maine potato farm, from the day you begin
planting in the Spring you are fighting to get the crop cycle completed
before Winter makes it’s-all-too soon return.
Most every year most every
farmer up this way succeeds at that appointed task. A potato
farmer’s reward for their successful field efforts is a Winter’s worth
of inside work grading and shipping potatoes in the +38ºF potato
house. A snug, tight cellar is a paradise – free of wind -
compared to outdoor mornings of -30ºF.
This mild Winter has left us with a good
start on firewood for next Winter. But the cold has not
departed. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this
week gave us lows of +7ºF, +4ºF and +2ºF. But the sun is now
getting higher, today we’ve been above freezing and the maple sap is
flowing. A good day to work.
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Prairie Family Farm
Click here for the
Wood Prairie Family Farm Home Page.
Maine Bob Sled.
Loaded with four-foot pulpwood hand-stacked. 'Escape from Spencer Lake'.
|WWII German POWs
Work in the State of Maine.
Nationwide, WWII resulted in a
serious shortage of workers who were needed to keep things rolling,
power the domestic war production effort, and replace the soldiers who
had gone off to fight. It’s widely recognized women in great
numbers left home and hearth to help keep the economy rolling
Less well-known is the use of
German Prisoners-of-War in various labor-intensive work across the
country. Here in Maine, German POWs supplemented the
trainloads of workers brought in from Kentucky and other States to
harvest America’s biggest crops of potatoes here in Maine’s Potato
Empire. Potatoes were a critical staple food for both America
and the entire Allied effort. Huge crops of potatoes – from
Aroostook County and elsewhere - were essential if the Allies were to
defeat the Nazi Axis.
By 1944, 4000 German prisoners were
being housed in four POW camps in very rural northern, western and
eastern Maine. The Houlton POW camp was in the heart of
Aroostook County’s Potato Empire. Local stories abound of
strong bonds developed between local Maine family farmers and the young
German boys – not very different than their own sons who’d gone off to
war - who were conscripted, then captured, and as POWs sent to America
only to pick potatoes in The
Another POW camp was built near Spencer Lake in
western Maine. There the POWs helped cut pulpwood destined
for Maine’s paper mills. A recent must
read article in Downeast Magazine, entitled 'Escape from Spencer Lake'
provides a fascinating glimpse into the very human and moving story of
German POWs working in the Maine woods. Don’t miss it!
Yeaton was among those who appreciated the work ethic of the German
loved to sing ‘Don’t Fence Me In,’ the 1944 hit song by Bing Crosby and
The Andrews Sisters,’ Yeaton remembered. ‘It was the only English they
knew, so they sang that song over and over. When I hear that song
today, I think about those German boys who were only a few years older
than me. They were teachers, musicians, and engineers. And like our
soldiers, they were just doing what their country asked of them.’”
Jim & Megan
Here for Our Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.
Offer: FREE Sack of Certified Organic Buckwheat
Cover Crop Seed.
Everyone should have
a sack of the versatile warm-season cover
crop Organic Buckwheat
on hand for when a corner
of the garden is harvested and opens up. Buckwheat is
sensitive to frost but takes just
eight weeks to grow
and then is ready to “plowdown”
(incorporate). We chop our cover crops of Buckwheat at 1-3%
bloom (when 1-3% of the plants first show white blossoms) with a
tractor-drawn “Bush-Hog” rotary mower. A hand scythe or string mower
will work fine on a smaller scale.
mowed Buckwheat by discing, plowing, rototilling or turning under with
a shovel while still moist and succulent.
We’ll make it easy for you to secure
yourself that sack of Organic Buckwheat! Earn yourself a FREE 2 ½ lbs. Sack of
Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed
(Value $9.95) when the
amount of goods in your next order totals $45 or more. FREE
2 ½ lbs. Sack of Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed offer
ends Midnight Monday, April 11.
Please use Promo Code WPF 484.
Your order and FREE
2 ½ lbs. Sack
of Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed
must ship by 5/6/16.
This offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click
Call us at Wood Prairie Family Farm (207) 429-9765.
Here for Our Wood Prairie Family Farm Organic Cover Crop Section.
Planting Potatoes in Fort Kent,
| Wood Prairie Potato School Webinars Now
All Posted on Web.
sixth and concluding Wood Prairie
School Webinar #6 “Why Crop Rotation is an
Organic Potato Farmer’s Best Friend” in
our wintertime series was presented
last week. As has
been typical our
discussion ranged in and out of potato crop rotations – beyond the whys
hows – and included historical context of cropping systems over the
not only in Maine and the USA but also in the Andean region where
first cultivated beginning 8000 years ago
All six of
our Wood Prairie Potato
School Webinars are now permanently posted on our Wood
Tube Channel. Find them using the hot
Jim & Megan
Prairie Potato School Webinar #5: OK, My
Potatoes Are Planted, Now What Do I Do?”
Prairie Potato School Webinar #4: 'Of
Course Before You Harvest You've Got to Plant'
Prairie Potato School Webinar #3: 'Why All This Hullabaloo About
Efficiency at Harvest?'
Prairie Potato School Webinar #2: 'So THAT’S How They Multiply Seed
Prairie Potato School Webinar #1: 'Butte
Here for our Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
| Research Reveals the Best Seed Potatoes
in the USA.
One thing we've learned in forty years
of organic farming is that there is a wide variation in the quality of
seed out there. "Germination" is one easy metric but seed performance
and vigor - while much harder to measure - are extremely
important in terms of overall yield, size and in the case of potatoes,
One method to determine relative seed
peroframnce is side-by-side
seed source testing by planting different seed lots in
replicated field plots. This is exactly what scientists at North Dakota
State University did a few years ago in a multi-year test. They planted
seed potatoes from various organic sources and used
conventionally-grown Minnesota Blue Tag Certified Seed as a control.
Here are the results from 2008
& 2009. We're happy to report that of all the seed potatoes
tested our Wood
Prairie organic seed potatoes came out on top in terms of total yield
and #1s (full-sized tubers).
A farmer or gardener puts a lot of
effort into prepping and fertilizing the ground. Since high quality
seed will consistently produce a better
quality and bigger crop, who wouldn't want to use the best seed
they can get their hands on?
Jim & Megan
Here for our Organic Wood Prairie Family FarmMaine Certified
The Best Organic Seed Potatoes.
No bull here in NDSU research.
|Notable Quote: Thomas Edison on
Yields 25 to 30 pierogi
For the filling:
1 lb Butte
potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
For the dough:
1 lb (3 1/2 c) whole wheat
; more as needed
2 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 c warm water
Make the dough:
Put flour in a large bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour
until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal. Add 3/4 c of the warm
water and stir with your fingers until the mixture begins to come
together. If the dough is too dry, add more warm water until it forms a
shaggy yet cohesive mass. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and
gently knead it just until soft and elastic. Cover with a clean
dishtowel and proceed with filling recipe.
Make the filling:
Cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until
tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain and return
potatoes to the pan. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Transfer
to a bowl and set aside. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden-brown
and soft, 15 - 20 minutes. Reserve 1/4 of the onions for garnish and
add the other 3/4 to the potatoes along with 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp.
pepper and mix until well combined. Let cool to room temperature.
Divide the dough into 3 orange-size balls and roll out one at a time
until dough is 1/8-inch-thick, 10 to 11-inch wide circle. Using a
floured 3-inch cookie cutter or inverted glass, cut out circles of
dough. Transfer the circles to a baking sheet, dust with a little flour
and top with a sheet of parchment so they don't dry out. Repeat with
remaining dough, stacking the circles between sheets of parchment.
Fill each dough circle with 1 T of potato filling and fold it in half.
Using your fingers, tightly pinch the edges together to seal and create
a border. Filled pierogi can be frozen for up to 6 months or
refrigerated for up to 2 hours.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in
batches of 10 to 12, drop the pierogi into the boiling water and give
them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. When they float to the
top (1 to 2 minutes for room temperature), use a slotted spoon to
transfer them to a platter.
Before serving, top the pierogi with melted butter and sprinkled with
the remaining onions. Serve with sour cream on the side.
Click here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Vegetable Seed
Photo by Angela Wotton.
Mailbox: Voting with Dollars and Three Questions.
Voting with Dollars.
guess when companies don't want people to know what's in their food,
their only choice is to vote with their dollar.
This latter-day corporate entry into
organic is causing great friction. Industrial Food corporations have
been buying up independent organic companies in an effort to maintain
market share. Many of these corporate newcomers are acting like
invaders by trying to make life easier for themselves by diluting
organic integrity. Additionally, they are supporting Monsanto in the
effort to prevent consumers from gaining their Right-to-Know GMOs.
Their use of political and economic power to endanger traditional
organic norms is being met with a firestorm of resistance by the
authentic organic community. The organic community will continue to
defend itself from these greed-driven invaders. We're not going away.
Hello. I have looked everywhere I can think of on
your website and can't find the answers that I am looking for so I hope
it is alright to ask in this way.
1. Recently, I was digging through some parts of our garden preparing
for next season and I dug up half a dozen or so small red potatoes that
were just starting to sprout. (This was on November 28, USDA
zone 5/6, altitude 6,000, zip code 86512) Not wanting to just
throw them away I prepared a place for them, dug in a little goat
bedding and manure, put down a very thin layer of chopped straw (to
keep the potatoes from actually sitting on the manure, etc.) put down
the potatoes, put a couple inches of soil over them and then put loose
straw on top of that. The problem I foresee is that we are
just getting into real winter weather and these could freeze within the
next couple of months. So, how much straw can I pile on top
of them to protect them and still have them find their way to the top
come warmer weather?
2. The other question I have is in regard to hilling the
potatoes. Your instructions say not to cover the leaves when
hilling. But the leaves start showing up as soon as the
sprout breaks the surface, so how can I hill (with dirt or straw)
without covering the leaves?
3. One other thing that I just thought of. I have tried
growing a few potatoes the last couple of years with very limited
success (partly due to bad Colorado potato beetle infestation) but one
of the things that I have run into is deciding when to harvest the
potatoes. The instructions say to wait for the plant to wilt
but if I do that it seems like the newly developed potato then sprouts
and tries to make its own tubers and the plants don't actually wilt
until the frost hits them in the fall.
Thank you for any help and/or advice you can provide.
1. I would err on the side of too much mulch - if need be remove some
2. We 'throw' the soil in under the plants beginning at 6' height.
If a leaf here or there gets buried it's OK but you want to preserve as
much leaf area as possible (photosynthetic energy factories).
3. One may harvest potatoes and eat them as soon as they are large
enough to make harvesting worthwhile. The 'leaving them in the ground'
advice is for potatoes one wants to store, but even then I would not
wait as long as you describe.
& Megan Gerritsen
Prairie Family Farm
429 - 9765
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm