Prairie Seed Piece
September 1st 2016
24 Issue 15
Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:
The Work of
Means Fall is Here and Potato Harvest is Not Far Away. All
of a sudden it’s September and we’re now looking towards “Digging” –
Aroostook County’s unpretentious term for Potato Harvest.
one of the last areas in the United States where our seventy-year-old
tradition of closing schools down in the Fall
This practice allows students to help get the Maine potato crop
harvested and safely under cover.
Two weeks from today schools will begin their Harvest Recess and that’s
when – because our two daughters are still in school - we’ll have our
full crew and we’ll begin to dig.
Our Spring crop of Organic
Hull-less Oats has matured and is almost dry
enough to harvest. We do that job with our Massey
–Ferguson 300 combine.
Unlike southern Maine and southern New England - which have been hurt
this Summer by a blistering drought - Northern Maine has received
plenty of rain: 8.5” in August, 5” in July and 3” in June. We
hope that our rainy Summer means our weather will shift to dry harvest
conditions. From our perspective, a drought at Digging means
In this issue of the
Seed Piece we have a story of potato harvest Idaho-style.
we include stories of two people whose actions have had a lasting
impact on the place we call Maine. Do have a look!
Please keep an eye out for our new Harvest Catalog to arrive
soon in your mailbox.
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Prairie Family Farm
Click here for the
Wood Prairie Family Farm Home Page.
Intensive Potato Harvest. Consolidation and
industrialization has been the direction in recent decades.
Potato Harvest Video.
There has been a lot of talk in recent decades
unrelenting scaling-up going on in American agriculture.
more and more evidence of major
harm this is causing to the fabric of rural America.
This increase is scale is at least as pertinent to potato production as
it is to other crops like corn and soybeans.
Potatoes are a heavy weight crop (15-45 tons/acre) and capable of
mechanization so there has always been an incentive to go
American ag has proven time and again that once the increase in
mechanization begins, scale can go hog wild and the sky’s the limit.
In that vain, we recently came across
this remarkable You
Tube video of the huge Taylor Farms potato operation in Idaho Falls,
Idaho (4:28). The aerial photography
is pretty stunning. So must be Mr. Taylor’s monthly equipment
In the Taylor Farms’ operation they “dig” sixteen rows of potatoes at a
time. This industrialized feat is accomplished with twelve
Deere tractors: eight hooked up to six-row windrowers and four more
pulling Spudnik four-row harvesters.
Here on Wood Prairie Family
Farm, we’re content with our one-row
Finnish Juko Potato Harvester.
This Fall will be our ninth year using it. I think this is
called appropriate technology for our family-scale farm.
For the Mr. Taylors out there, you’ll be relieved to know Idaho-based
Spudnik’s eastern headquarters is at the old air base in Presque Isle,
Maine. In fact, one of the Bridgewater boys who worked for us
back during high school fifteen or twenty years ago is now one of the
mechanics at Spudnik in Presque Isle. Eric’s become an expert
in his work he’s traveled as far as Saudi Arabia to help some big
farmers there get their Spudniks to fly right.
Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
Offer: FREE Organic
Tillage Radish Cover Crop Seed.
Just this past week we planted some Organic
Tillage Radish Cover Crop
on Wood Prairie Family Farm. That means there's plenty of time left to
do the same and plant your tillage radish if you are south of our
location here in Northern Maine.
is an excellent cover crop known as a "bio-fumigant". It produces
natural glucosinolates (GSLs) which reduce soil-borne pests such as
pathogenic nematodes and funguses as well as inhibits weed seed
germination. This will help your garden grow healthy and vigorous crops
Here's a great chance to try out Organic
. Earn a FREE 4 oz. Sack of our Organic
Tillage Radish Cover Crop Seed
(Value $5.95) - Enough to
plant over 500 Square Feet - when the goods in your next order total
$39 or more. FREE Organic Tillage Radish
Cover Crop Seed
- offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, Labor Day
September 5, 2016, so better hurry!
Please use Promo Code WPF494
. Your order
and FREE Organic Tilllage
Radish Cover Crop Seed
must ship by 5/4/17. Offer may not
be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!
Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Cover Crop Seed Section.
Organic Tillage Radish. Exceptional cover crop for your
garden or fields.
Newest National Monument. Looking westward across KWWNP.
Katahdin is in abutting Baxter State Park.
Gets America's Newest National Monument.
This year, our nation is celebrating the 100th
of the founding of the National Park Service. Last week, on
Tuesday, former Bert’s Bees magnate Roxanne Quimby donated to the
people of the United States 87,600 acres of land located just east of
Maine’s 200,000-acre Baxter State Park which contains
The very next day, on Wednesday, with the stroke of a pen, President
Obama created America’s newest addition to the National Park
Woods and Waters National Monument.
Katahdin is located in Northern Maine and is 70 miles southwest of Wood
Prairie Family Farm. Much of the new KWWNM
abuts Baxter State Park. An article
in the Portland Press
Herald provides good background on
the National Monument and its expected impact to the Katahdin region.
Downeast magazine has posted a
beautiful video (4:23) taken in the area which
has now become Katahdin
Woods and Waters National Monument.
Do take a few minutes to watch the excellent video and then we suggest
you add Baxter Park and KWWNM to your travel plans for when you next
Jim & Megan
Here for Our Wood Prairie Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.
History: The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery.
The largest bank robbery in Maine history – over
stolen - occurred forty-five years ago this Fall, at a local Mars Hill
bank, just twelve miles from Wood Prairie Family Farm. Now, a
newly published hard-to-put-it-down book has been published, The
Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery,
written by Ron Chase a Registered Maine Guide and published by Downeast
Books. The story is a real one of Mayberry-like rural
In Aroostook County, beginning that fateful November day, this crime
has taken on legendary proportions. No doubt our
fascination is in large part because of intricate community
connections, due to the fact that the bank robber was one
intelligent-yet-complicated local backwoods boy who had grown up in
Central Aroostook and worked on local potato farms. After his
return from several tours of duty in Vietnam - where he had served as a
brave “tunnel rat’ - Bernard (Aroostook pronunciation: “Burn-nerd’)
Patterson hatched his stunning plan to get himself a grubstake.
As examples of local connections, two of the three bank customers
inside the bank when the robbery took place were well connected to the
Gerritsen family. Burwell Donovan was a wonderfully kind
farmer who moonlighted as an artificial insemination technician and for
years came out to our farm to breed our family milk cow. That
Friday evening, at the time of the bank heist, Burwell had been
accompanied by his then teenage daughter Launa – aunt to our longtime
employee Jon Donovan – and had some banking business to
Then many years later, Bernard would periodically drive out to Wood
Prairie - in a sleek sports car - to talk with Jim about getting into
growing organic potatoes.
in Chase’s book, the reality of the bank robbery – and the amazing
escapades which followed – are much more colorful and unexpected than
could have ever been believed in any mere work of fiction.
One wonders if one day a feature film might be made.
Recently a Maine
television station produced a news story – and twin five-minute videos-
about the bank robbery
and interviewed author Ron Chase. Watch the videos and if
whets your appetite, then go out and get the book. We think
will enjoy reading it. Right now Caleb is halfway though our
Jim & Megan
here for our Wood Prairie Tool & Organic Farm Supplies
County Heist. Twelve miles from Wood Prairie Family Farm
was Maine's biggest bank robbery ever.
|Abraham Lincoln on Corruption.
Pepper Spanish Tortilla.
1 T olive oil, plus more for serving
1 lb Yukon
potatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
1 pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
, halved and thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp hot sauce
oven to 375 degrees. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Add potatoes, pepper, and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cover,
and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are crisp-tender, 14-16
minutes. Uncover, and cook off excess liquid, about one minute.
a bowl, whisk together eggs, parsley, hot sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2
tsp pepper. Pour mixture over vegetables in skillet, and gently stir to
distribute evenly. With the back of a spatula, press down on vegetables
so they lay flat and are submerged.
Bake in oven until set,
about 15 minutes. To unmold, run a rubber spatula around edge of
skillet to release tortilla; invert onto a serving plate. Drizzle with
oil. Serve hot or room temperature.
and Healthy Meal.
Photo by Angela Wotton.
Handling Colorados and Now It's Aphids.
are seeing a pretty heavy wave of Colorado Potato Beetles in southern
Maine already this season (making up for last time last year I guess).
What have you been seeing and hearing from others?
populations have been building for the last five years. The mild winter
we just went through means less winter mortality so it's a good bet
that they will be a force to be reckoned with this year. Entrust
is very effective. However, it's best to alter control strategies and
rotate control materials in an effort to counter resistance. There are
reports of Entrust beginning to fail - including southern Maine - due
to resistance issues. Crop rotation is a must. Hand picking is still
the best plan for smalll potato patches.
Now It's Aphids.
Jim and Megan,
We have never had aphids on our potatoes before and were unaware of the
damage they could do.
assume your diagnosis is correct and you are not dealing with Potato
Leafhoppers (PLH) which have been a problem this year in Maine. http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/potato-leafhopper.
plants are on the way out. I tried hosing them off, but they returned.
Also, I assume the disease they brought is throughout the plants anyway
at this point.
aphids get blown in and already have potato virus in their systems.
Other aphids blow in and must feed on a sick plant before they can
transmit virus to a healthy plant.
The potato tubers are fine but are still on the small side. Can we wait
until the plants officially die before harvesting?
Boosting them with a spray of liquid seaweed (and liquid fish if
available) could only help them reduce stress and loss of potato leaf
Any potential damage to the potatoes?
be no tuber damage for eating purposes beyond the possibility of some
tuber deformity. There would be an increased risk of virus content if
the tubers were saved for seed so would be advisable to start with
fresh Certified Seed next Spring.
Were the aphids in the soil?
No, they blew
Will this be a problem next year?
Anything we can do to prevent infestation next year, and what is the
best way to handle the problem if it does occur again?
some predatory Ladybugs ahead of time. Store them in the refrigerator
until needed. Distribute Ladybugs after you see aphids (Ladybugs need a
food source), preferably on a drizzly evening (to minimize flight).
Thanks for your help!
|Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Prairie Family Farm
429 - 9765
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm