April 17, 2015
Volume 21 Issue 8
Enjoy Receiving The Seed Piece?
support our continuing
work which includes The Seed Piece.
Issue of The Seed Piece:
Wood Prairie Farm’s Jim
& Megan Gerritsen Standing in Jim’s Corner-of-the-Universe.
Our windowless underground potato storage is where Jim spends most of
his winter, grading our organic Certified Seed potatoes for the crew
upstairs to pack, box and ship. The photo was taken during a
visit by organic seed farmers, Blaine and Suzy Schmaltz of North
Dakota. Their Maine trip is recounted in the Maine Tales
article just ahead.
Subsequent to that visit last month, we
have had more snow storms plus cold temperatures. In fact,
Monday last week, the temperature here dropped to -10ºF. That
made April 6 the coldest
April day on record for Aroostook County. The
old record had been -4ºF, recorded in Presque isle where records have
been kept since 1893. That same day, cold Clayton
Lake near the Quebec border had -19ºF.
The pendulum has swung and now mild April weather
is melting snow, filling rivers and causing local concern over ice
jams. If you haven’t seen this video
(0:42) of an Ice Jam Release on a stream in
Vermont, you will want to be sitting down when you watch it.
The burst will take your breath away.
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Click here for the
Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
North Dakota and Back Again.
Last month Maine farmers were
fortunate when top shelf organic seedsman Blaine Schmatlz of Rugby ND,
along with his wife Suzy, flew into Bangor to speak at the Annual
Maine Grain Conference. Their farm,
known as Blaine’s Best Seeds has been certified organic since
1986. They have a mixed livestock – grass fed beef - and crop
farm. Blaine grows a vast
array of organic seed including hard red spring wheat,
durum wheat, barley, oats, emmer, triticale, buckwheat, flax, dry peas,
edible beans, soybeans, corn, sunflower, alfalfa and clover. Their
knowledge and love of the land is extensive. We have been buying
organic seed from Blaine for many years. They are our friends.
Another of this winter’s many snow
storms threw a curve ball into the Schmaltz’s plans to travel after the
conference the 150 miles north from Bangor to Bridgewater. To
dodge the weather they reversed plans and instead headed west to
Vermont. Timing worked out well. Blaine was able to
co-teach Jack Lazor’s ag class at University of Vermont. That
would be our friend Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm organic yogurt fame,
author of The
Organic Grain Grower. Blaine had
visited Jack’s farm once before and Jack has been out to Rugby.
Used to the cold and wide open spaces
of North Dakota, the Schmaltzs next turned around, left Vermont, drove
past Bangor and came up north to visit our farm and Aroostook County,
Maine. After visiting and touring our modest farm and organic
seed operation, Jim took Blaine into Ryan Bradstreet’s
‘potato house’ four miles away in Bridgewater. There, Ryan,
his father Wayne, son Ethan, and three more crew members, were grading
and packing their conventionally grown Certified Seed potatoes into
50-pound paper sacks, fifty to a pallet.
It was many generations ago in 1829,
that these same Bradstreets’ ancestor, Nathanial Bradstreet, left the
Town of Palermo in Waldo County to become the first European-American
to settle this portion of the North Maine woods which was called on
surveyors maps, the Town of Bridgewater, Maine.
Now forty years ago, Jim
worked in this same Bradstreet potato house for Ryan’s grandfather,
Dan. In year’s since, on occasion, when Bradstreets have been
short-handed he has lent a hand and helped pack potatoes. In
recent years, Bradstreet’s potato house has expanded significantly and
cavernously into adjoining neighboring potato houses, giving
Bradstreets substantially more room to store both field run and packed
potatoes. The day Blaine and Jim visited, Ryan had seven
semi-tractor trailer loads of potatoes packed, palletized and organized
ahead, waiting for trucks to show up to take the seed south.
After a Gerritsen/Schmaltz
family supper at Al’s Diner in Mars Hill, Blaine and Suzy drove back
down to Bangor. Next day they flew back to North
Dakota. Since their visit we’ve brought in half a semi-load
of organic seed to disperse to local farmers. And then Suzy
was nice enough to send along these photos.
Jim & Megan
Here for Wood Prairie Farm Organic Cover Crop & Grain Seed.
| Special Offer: FREE Organic Caribou Russet
The newest variety to hit the potato world is the recently
Russet – named after the
nearby Aroostook County town of Caribou, Maine. When we grew
this potato last summer in our variety trials, it was known as AF3362-1
(Aroostook Farm 3362-1). Caribou
Russet was bred here in Maine and is a cross between
Silverton Russet and Reeves Kingpin (named after Maine’s late potato
breeder, Dr Alvin Reeves). Caribou Russet is a
mid-season, high yielding russet with good eating qualities, excellent
early vigor and appears to be fairly resistant to hollow heart, scab
and Verticillium Wilt.
Here’s your chance to give Caribou Russet a try
at no cost. Get a FREE
1 lb. Sack of Caribou Russet Organic Certified Seed Potatoes
(value $11.95) on your next order where the goods total $45 or
more. Please use Promo
Code WPF460. Offer may not be combined with other
offers. Order and Caribou
Russet must ship by 5/8/15. Offer Expires 11:59p.m.,
Monday, April 20th, so please hurry!
Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
Newest Potato. The
Chicken Moat To Keep Pests Out of
Innovation on the homestead.
| Protecting Your
Garden With a Chicken Moat.
There is no lack of imagination when it comes to
gardeners as this clever idea demonstrates. In a Mother Earth News
article which dates back to the 1980s, Gene
Gerue explains his invention of a double-fence around the perimeter of
his garden. This six-foot-wide dry, protective corridor is
home to marauding and hungry chickens, hence the name, “Chicken
Moat.” The concept is complete right down to “Chicken
The chickens patrol and eat wayward
bugs which have designs on your garden’s bounty. But does it
work? “Yes,” say the author. “Two years ago, when
our neighbor’s garden was nearly devastated by grasshoppers, our hens
gorged themselves on the invading horde and saved our plot.”
If you do construct a “Chicken Moat,”
please send a photo and we’ll share it with our readers in a future Seed Piece.
Here For Wood Prairie Farm Organic Gardening Tools & Supplies.
| Seed to Die For.
Yes, seed is important. Very
important. Many of the foods we humans eat – wheat, corn,
oats - are, in fact, seeds. On another level there are stories of
almost unimaginable heroism involved with protecting seed.
Such stories convey remarkable selflessness in addition to an
exhibition of the grasp that seed stands as an irreplaceable
resource. Isn’t the modern-day fight to protect organic seed
from catastrophic transgenic (GE) contamination yet another chapter in
recent article in the New
York Times, entitled “Open Sesame,” by Tamar Adler
approaches the subject of seed as both food and foundation.
It is worthwhile reading. “In 1943, a group of scientists,
inspired by patriotism not to Mother Russia but to Mother Earth,
starved to death in a St. Petersburg vault with the world’s largest
seed collection rather than allow the gathering hordes to eat it.”
Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Certified Organic Vegetable Seed
Seed is Worth
Saving. Seed requires heroic measures to protect.
Smashed Roasted Potatoes.
12-15 small Dark
or Yukon Gold
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with at least an inch of
water. Boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the potatoes are
completely tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.
Place the cooked potatoes on a clean dishtowl. Let them drain and sit
for a minute or two. Fold another dishtowel into quarters, and using it
as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand
to flatten it to a thickness of about 1/2-inch. Repeat with all of the
Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; put a sheet of
parchment on top of the foil. Carefully transfer the flattened potatoes
to the baking sheet and let them cool completely at room temperature.
If working ahead, refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
Heat oven to 450 F. Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 tsp salt and
pour olive oil over them. Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of
the oil goes underneath. Roast until they are crisp and deep brown
around the edges., 30 - 40 minutes, turning over once gently with a
spatula halfway through cooking. Serve hot.
Smashed Roasted Potatoes.
by Angela Wotton
Our Mailbox: Worse
Than DDT and Planning for Fall Planting.
It would seem EPA has raised the allowable
tolerance levels on more than one occasion. Even worse Monsanto
requested (and was approved) to have AMPA tolerance levels lumped in to
be considered as glyphosate. AMPA is the breakdown product of
glyphosate. AMPA is a nuroexcitory toxin that is toxic at very minute
levels. So at the current allowable glyphosate levels, your food could
conceivably be containing horrifically toxic levels of AMPA. Add to
that, the type of bacteria that break down glyphosate, has actually
caused outbreaks in hospitals, traced to be via contaminated water.
Various hospital outbreaks that have already occured, co-incidentally
correspond with the timing of crop cycles (spray time) in a given area
of the country.
Renound plant pathologist Dr. Donald
Huber has said that glyphosate is worse than DDT.
EPA has radically raised the allowable
pesticide tolerance for glyphosate twice; once in the mid-1990s and
then again just a few years ago. These actions do not reflect 'improved
scientific understanding'. They do reflect collusion and the power of
Industrial Ag to dwarf the interests of the people. Heads should be
rolling over at the EPA. This
recent primer on glyphosate by our friend, Bill
Deusing of NOFA-CT, is MUST READ material.
you suggest I plant an earlier maturing variety, or dig up some new
potatoes earlier in the season to save as seed for a Fall planting?
Also, did I understand correctly that you are shipping seed as late as
July 4? Where are people planting in early July? Thanks again for your
time and advice.
Yes, we ship until Independence Day.
Folks, anywhere in the north from Maine down to Pennsylvania can plant
until July 4.
Potatoes are a cool season crop which
does not like hot weather (90s) or hot soil. Given your elevation you
may be cut from a different cloth than most of the south. We have an
experienced farmer in northern Georgia who plants whole seed tubers in
mid-August (cut up tubers rot for him because of the high soil temps).
Another alternative to consider is to order certified seed potatoes
from us in Oct/Nov and have us ship in the cool weather around
thanksgiving while the tubers are still dormant. Then put the tubers in
your reefer and remove two weeks prior to your fall planting date.
Yukon Gold are about as early as they
come, Rose Finn Apple a couple of weeks later. With an early July
harvest you would probably want to skip the reefer step. Just store the
golf ball-sized tubers - which you would plant whole - in a cool (60s),
dark place. Plant after you can see sprouts growing out of the eyes
which indicates the tubers have broken dormancy.
|Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm