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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.

 Onto a New Year.

Organic Caribe’. One of Our Best Selling Potatoes!

     Bred by our friend, the now retired AgCanada Potato Breeder Dr. Hielke De Jong, Organic Caribe’ is year-in, year-out one of our most popular varieties. Caribe’ is High Yielding and Extra Early making it a great choice everywhere but most especially valuable in locales where the Spring warms up quickly to hot. With the ability to size up delicious tubers quickly, Caribe’is a real winner. As we have said in our Catalog for 30 years: "‘Caribe’ should be planted in EVERY garden!"

     In this issue of the Seed Piece we bring back our classic feature we call Notable Quotes. Please scroll down to see what good advice Thomas Paine has for us!

     Also, our NEW section called How-To Gardening Resources this week features two Brand New Video Podcasts by Lazy Dog Farm. Lazy Dog’s Travis Key offers a 2-Part interview with Jim drilling down to interesting nitty gritty about growing Potatoes. This is Potato Growing content you won’t find anywhere else!

     For the 35 years we’ve run our Farm-Direct Mail Order business, EVERYTHING we grow and sell has ALWAYS been Certified Organic. We are your Organic Experts! Organic Seed Potatoes, Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Herb Seed, Organic Flower Seed, Organic Cover Crop Seed, Organic Fertilizer, Tools and Supplies and Organic Kitchen Potatoes.

Thanks for your business! Stay Safe & Stay Warm!


Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine





Maine Tales. Proud Mothers.   Springhill, Louisiana.   Circa 1983.

Hoedad Planting in the South.  This beautiful site was what tree planters would call “gravy” and was absent the slash, trash and logging debris which usually confronted hand planters. “Hoedads” were specifically designed for hand planting and are a tool refined from the old heavy mattock. Hoedads are swung with a single gloved hand. The other ungloved hand is constantly reaching into the planting bag pulling out a bare-root seedling from the bag’s five-hundred tree supply. The tree is quickly whipped into the V-shaped hole created by lifting up on the handle attached to the sunken hoedad blade. The final step is to ferociously ‘heel-in’ the tree with your boot before stepping ahead to plant the next tree. The typical forestry target is 700 trees per acre at 6’ x 8’ or 7’ x 7’ eye-balled spacing. Hoedad planting encourages a rhythm to planting and precise spacing becomes effortless second-nature. Jim averaged planting 4500 trees per day. His career best was planting 9000 trees one day on a field in Georgia which had grown Soybeans the previous Summer. He was trying for 10,000 but he didn’t make it.

     It all depends on your idea of having fun. For a Mainer, sitting by a warm woodstove and looking out the window at the cold world outside is pretty hard to beat.

Hoedad Tree Planting

     Jim was part of a crew of hoedad treeplanters spread out on the logging road across a clearcut in northern Louisiana. "Hoedads" are specialized mattocks swung with one hand while the other hand repeatedly grabs out trees for planting from a shoulder-strapped planting bag.

     The weather had turned cold with the onset of the record-busting “Great Freeze of ’83.” After going through a bout of a half-inch of freezing rain, the area received another three inches of insulating snow. The cold, ice and snow had shut down the crew from hand-planting Loblolly Pine trees. The only thing that could rescue that icy Lousianna world was an above-freezing-thaw and that was not in cards.

     Three treeplanters on the crew happened to be friends from northern Florida. Their idea of fun was to scratch the itch, leave camp and discover America up close by braving the roads. That was before the days of cell phones and those three weren’t seen again until the thaw ten days later.

     In the 1970s and 1980s hoedad planting became a way for independent nonconformists to earn money by working hard. Planting season down South occurs during the Winter when rain, cool weather and moist ground conditions increase tree survivability rates. Southern planting is high production planting on ground too rough and ornery to plant by machine.

     After paying your dues and learning the how-tos of the trade, there was good money if you had a strong back and the drive to work long and hard. Hundred-dollar-days morphed into two-hundred-dollar days and tree planting became a good way to earn big bucks and then sink them into the voracious appetite of a Maine farm getting going.

Southern Cross

     Most crews of Southern treeplanters were young men and many came down from the North. Forty years ago, in his bachelor days, Jim left the farm and planted for three Winters from November until April. During those three Winters he planted over one million trees in ten southern States from Texas to Florida to Delaware.

     Southern tree planters lived in rigs such as hollowed-out Ford and Chevy vans parked right on the very clearcuts they were planting. They were compensated for their repetitive stoop labor with piece-rate pay. Forty years ago tree planting reflected a raw, unbridled capitalist system. Hardcore planters worked every daylight hour. Pay week ran from Sunday through Saturday and by Wednesday morning they would have the week’s first forty hours under their belts.

     In those laissez-faire days every week or two they’d relocate to working/living on a new clearcut which needed planting. Hitting the road and moving sites provided the opportunity to descend upon a town and restock their camper vans with nonperishables, canned food and Gerry cans full of water. That way they could lay in for the next siege.

Great Freeze of '83

     The Great Freeze of ’83 hit hard and fast. Treeplanting across the South screeched to a halt. Our one company alone had twenty crews of 15-20 treeplanters spread across the South. In the fullness of time, ten days later after our jail birds had returned, we learned local icy roads had been treacherous and impassable. With cars lacking snow tires and trucks devoid of snowplows, officials had elected to place barricades across roads to ‘encourage’ would-be-rubber-neckers to stay home until the sunshine could melt away the mayhem.

     Before leaving Maine, Jim had installed a compact icehouse woodstove in his van. Everyday, he would emerge from the toasty van and spend an hour with a hand saw cutting up short chucks of hardwood logging slash, collecting them into his treeplanting bag. Once thawed and dried out inside the van, the limitless firewood provided fine fuel for warmth from the stubborn icy cold North wind.

     Earlier that season at a second-hand-store, Jim had scored for twenty-five cents a hardcover copy of the classic livestock farmer’s bible, Morrison’s Feeds and Feeding which details every aspect of the myriad of types of livestock farming. During that forced downtime he read that book word-for-word cover to cover.

     Reading Feeds and Feeding was staycation fun, and Mr. Morrison’s mother should be proud.

Caleb, Jim & Megan


Megan's Kitchen Recipes:
Sea Salt Baked Potatoes.

2 Large baking potatoes, such as Butte.

Flaky Sea Salt

Butter or olive oil

2 large handfuls of Arugula or Spinach


1 T Champagne or tarragon vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Egg yolk

Scant 1/2 c olive oil

2 T grated Parmesan

2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400F. Wash the potatoes, prick them with a fork and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Then bake until tender, about one hour.

While the potatoes are baking, make the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, mustard, egg yolk, and olive oil with a big pinch of salt. Then whisk in the cheese and finally the lemon juice. Taste, make any adjustments and set aside.

Slice a big cross in the potato and push in on the ends to open the top. Scoop out a bit of the potato filling if you like. Add a pat of butter/olive oil to each potato, or a splash of dressing and a bit of salt. Toss the arugula with a generous amount of dressing and then pile it into the potatoes. You'll likely have some leftover dressing to enjoy as needed with the salad and skins.



How-To Gardening Resources.


Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Wind-Driven Logging on Wood Prairie Family Farm. Here in Northern Maine thanks to Climate Change we’re been experiencing higher winds than we used to get. Last Summer a powerful storm brought down area trees. Then a more recent Winter storm blew down some additional trees including a big ‘Popple’ (Quaking Aspen) which just missed our power lines but did snag our telephone landlines. Since this early Winter has had less snow pack than normal, we decided it was a good opportunity to cut down big trees near buildings and power lines which could cause trouble if they blew over. Here Caleb (inside the ‘Case 125’ Excavator cab) and Justin work together to twitch out logs. The Excavator came in handy for convincing leaning trees to fall away from structures and electric lines. So far we’ve cut 50 cords of semi-tree length Popple which is headed to the mill to be chipped and made into Maine paper.

A Sign of the Times: Potato School Resumes. For the first time in three years, in-person Potato School has now resumed in Northern Maine. In recent years, Zoom sessions and webinars tried to fill in the gap left by Covid for educating Potato farmers on the latest and greatest developments in areas of Potato production and marketing. In this shot, retiring Maine Potato Breeder and Agronomist Dr. Greg Porter gives a presentation on promising new Potato varieties. The University of Maine has already hired Greg’s Potato Breeder successor. The two will work together for a year until Greg’s full retirement kicks in on December 31, ending a career spanning 38 years. One area of breeding focus has been Russet Potatoes for the Processing and Table market. Our outstanding mid-season variety, Caribou Russet, is one of Greg’s creations. The letters “AF” in this photo depicting a promising numbered Russet selection refers to “Aroostook Farm,” Maine’s Potato Experiment Station in nearby Presque Isle where the traditional Potato breeding work and trialing is performed. It takes 12 years of testing after an initial cross for a promising variety to fully prove itself and earn a name and release. We were told that one numbered Russet has trialed at the phenomenal yield of 1000 “bags” or “cwt” per acre. That is 100,000 lbs/acre! For perspective, Washington State with its long-growing-season boasts the highest average Potato yields in the USA at around 580 bags/acre.

Beautiful Beneficial Flower Organic Cosmos. For half the year we are covered with white snow and lots of gray skies. So it’s nice to think back to the bright days of the growing season. This shot of spectacular Organic Cosmos was taken last October. Cosmos is adored by Beneficial Insects which find nourishment and sustenance from the bright blossoms while they are on patrol devouring insect pests which would like to feast on our Organic Potatoes. It’s hard not to have tremendous respect for flowers which provide both beauty and utility.


Notable Quotes: Paine on Patriots.


Quick Links to Popular Products.

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