The Wood Prairie Seed Piece
            Organic News and Commentary
                  Thursday, May 17th, 2018
                       Volume 27 Issue 10


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Planting is Here.

     Wood Prairie's Katie Finemore Filling Corn Seedling Trays.  Longtime co-worker Katie had left for the day to pick up her Kindergartner son when we took photos of crew members a month ago (see April 20 issue of Wood Prairie Seed Piece).    So, now, here is Katie working in the cool outside air this morning, filling hundreds of tree seedling containers with Vermont Organic Compost.  We plant these deep cell containers with corn seed kernels in order to grow commercial crops of organic corn seed.  After growing in containers in the high tunnel for three weeks, we then plant the corn starts out in the field with our tractor-drawn transplanter.  This rigmarole is designed to turn the tables and conquer crows which in the past have laid considerable waste to our corn seedlings when the corn seed crop – such as Dorinny Sweet Corn - was direct-seeded.  Back then stealthy crows would pluck up many hundreds of corn sprouts to feast upon that single corn kernel at the base.   We can appreciate the past validation that our pure, organic open-pollinated corn is irresistible, but now it’s the crows who are frustrated.
     The ground is about ready and first of next week we’ll begin planting our potato crop.  Before we’re done, we’ll go through about 25,000 lbs of seed potatoes.  We’re conditioning our seed now as the ground warms up.
 Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
Understanding Soil Temperature and Its Role in Timing Potato Planting.

Northern Maine May Soil Temperatures. The arc of seasonal warm-up is long but bends towards wound-healing.

     The data in this chart, which summarize Soil Temperature in the Month of May - going back twenty-one years - at the Potato Experiment Farm in Presque Isle, Maine, is gathered and maintained by one of the long-time Extension potato scientists, Dr. Steve Johnson.

      Wound healing of a potato does not occur at a temperature of less than 45ºF.  Therefore, a seed tuber which has been cut into seed pieces and placed in cold soil below 45ºF will just sit there and not callous over, at risk of becoming dinner for pathogenic fungus in the soil.

       Organic farmers have learned by experience to not push extremes.  We plan to start our planting potatoes when the soil temp, measured at 7am, and in our case measured at 4”depth (because we plant shallow at about 2”) first hits 50ºF.  As you can see from the chart, planting around May 18-20 is the target we set our sights on.

Jim & Caleb

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.

Special Offer: FREE Organic Maine Certified King Harry Seed Potatoes.

     Organic King Harry is a fairly new potato variety bred and released by Cornel University.  King Harry is famous for its substantial ability to withstand insect pressure.  While not immune to damage caused by the big three insects – Colorado Potato Beetles, Potato Leafhoppers and Flea Beetles – its bug resistance due to its repelling “hairy leaves”  is very impressive. 
     If you want to experience what it’s like to have a green thumb, do grow this big, lush, vigorous potato which produces loads of good-tasting round white tubers.  You won’t be sorry!

     Here’s your chance to earn a FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified King Harry Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when your next order totals $49 or more. FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified King Harry Seed Potatoes Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, May 7, so please act right now!

     Please use Promo Code WPFF427. Your order and FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified King Harry Seed Potato Offer must ship by May 28, 2018. Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please click today!

Click Here for Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop and Farm Seed.

Organic King Harry. A great potato deserving its crown now.
Excellent MUST WATCH Video! How Trees Talk to Each Other.

MUST WATCH Tree Video. If you love trees, then watching this video may be the most important thing you do this week.

     This remarkable TEDx video presentation (18:20) by ecologist Suzanne Simard explains the miraculous workings of tree communities, how they communicate and how they care for each other’s needs
      Professional forest ecologist Simard is an out-of-the-box thinker who has discovered there is a stunningly deeper dimension to tree communities than previously imagined.

    "Hub Trees" or "Mother Trees" nurture their young through complex networks, exchanging carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, water, defense signals and hormones.

     Imagine, then, the calamitous impact on forest health when too high a percentage of these Hub Trees are removed by logging.   Please take the time to pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy this blockbuster talk. 

Jim & Megan

"’A forest is much more than what you see,' says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery -- trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes.”

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop & Farm Seed.
Wood Prairie Farm Photos.

Caleb Gerritsen ‘Breaking Ground.’  We got on the ground harrowing for the first time at the end of last week.  The snow had left this field just ten days earlier.  Within days we’ll begin planting our first potatoes in this very spot.

Imposter Rock Caught Imitating Carola.  One job involved in “grading potatoes,” aka “rackin’ ‘em over” is to catch cagey rocks posing as potatoes.  One of these Carola tubers is really an imposter rock.  Which one?

Yet Another Rock Dressed in Camouflage Caught Cavorting With Adirondack Blues.  Aroostook County rocks have faced a long, improbable quest to be accepted as part of Maine’s Potato Empire.  One has to admire their tenacity.  The answers to which-potato-is-actually-a-rock may be found at the end of today’s Olive Oil Braised Spring Vegetable Recipe section.

American Goldfinch and Male Purple Finch (r.).  Yesterday, daughter Sarah Gerritsen took this series of bird photos at the bird feeder outside our kitchen window.  An integrated covey of feathered friends took turns feeding on sunflower seeds.  Six weeks ago, this bird feeder was encased in snow as depicted in our March 23 issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  This dandy is back for fourths anyway.

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  A plain-Jane maybe, but important nonetheless.

Upton Sinclair on Understanding.

Recipe: Olive Oil Braised Spring Vegetables.

1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb baby carrots, cut into bite-friendly segments
1/4 lb baby potatoes, cut into bite-friendly segments
2 baby fennel, trimmed and quartered
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
6 small spring onions (or scallions), trimmed
1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into segments
1 lemon, cut into small wedges, deseeded

Add the olive oil to a large skillet over med-low heat. The pan needs to be hot enough to cook the vegetables, but not hot enough to brown them. Add carrots, potatoes, fennel, and salt to the pan and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add the onions, then cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are just cooked through. A minute before the carrots and potatoes are cooked, add the asparagus and a few of the lemon wedges to the pan. Cook just until it brightens, and is barely tender.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with thyme or dill, and serve with remaining lemon wedges. The vegetables are good hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4-6

- Megan & Angie

In the Potato photos section above the imposter-rocks are both in the center.

Fresh and Delicious From the Garden.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

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