Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
                Friday, August 3rd, 2018
               Volume 27 Issue 15


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Peak of Summer.

     Summer Sunset Over Wood Prairie Family Farm's 'Big Pond'.  Maine’s cool May and June left us 25% behind the ten-year average of ‘Potato-Growing-Degree-Days’ (45ºF base).   Then comes along our HOT July - the hottest single month ever recorded in Northern Maine – and that really turned things around.  Suddenly, in the short span of just one HOT month, we’ve seriously closed that early-season cool-deficit down to a mere 5% below that ten-year-average.  And July’s heat so far is continuing now that it’s August.
     Not only has it been hot here in Maine, but it’s also been dry – at least by New England standards.  On our farm, we seem to have benefited more than some others by having received valuable precipitation from localized thunderstorms.   Here are the totals from our rain-guages for the past three months:  May 3.17”; June 4.21”; July 3.00.”
     Despite Maine’s heat and dryness, our crops are looking good.  This Summer is sure flying by!
Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine

Organic Agriculture Explained. Eliot Coleman's Pièce de Résistance.

A Landmark Article on Organic Farming You will Want to Read.

     Some years ago, organic pioneer and Maine farmer Eliot Coleman delivered an address at Yale University.  In time, that address was transformed into this powerful essay, Organic Agriculture: Deeply Rooted in Science and Ecology.   The article appeared in Grist a number of years ago and we can’t recommend it highly enough.
    Eliot is our friend and one thing’s for sure:  Eliot knows what he’s talking about. 

These new agriculturists were convinced that the thinking behind industrial agriculture was based upon the mistaken premise that nature is inadequate and needs to be replaced with human systems. They contended that by virtue of that mistake, industrial agriculture has to continually devise new crutches to solve the problems it creates (increasing the quantities of chemicals, stronger pesticides, fungicides, miticides, nematicides, soil sterilization, etc.) It wouldn’t be the first time in the history of science that a theory based on a false premise appeared to be momentarily valid. Temporary functioning is not proof of concept. For example, if we had a book of the long discredited geocentric astronomy of Ptolemy, which was based on the sun revolving around the earth, we could still locate Jupiter in the sky tonight thanks to the many crutches devised by the Ptolemaists to prop up their misconceived system. As organic agriculture has become more prominent, the orthodoxy of chemical agriculture has found itself up against its own Galileo. It will be interesting to see who recants.

     Please, don't miss reading Eliot's classic work!

Caleb, Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

Special Offer: FREE Organic Hull-Less Oat Cover Crop Seed.

       One of the most versatile, soil-saving cover crops you can grow is Organic Hull-Less Oats.  Organic Hull-less Oats are fast to sprout and grow, and quickly develop a thick, protective ground cover which shades and protects soil and the important micro-organisms residing therein.   As a cover crop, Organic Hull-Less Oats may be sown anytime throughout the growing season.  They are hardy down to the high-teens -Fahrenheit and so may survive in areas with mild Winters.  In cold areas like Maine, Organic Hull-Less Oats will die down in late Fall, creating a thick, protective mat which is easily incorporated the following Spring.

     We are strong advocates for the proposition that every gardener and farmer should have on-hand a ready-supply of fast-growing cover crop seed like Organic Hull-less Oats.  That way, as soon as a plot has been harvested and is done with cropping for the year, a quick-growing cover crop may be immediately sown in order to protect and improve the soil.

    Let us help you get your start on building a storehouse of Organic Cover Crop seed.   Earn a FREE 2.5 Lb. Sack (enough for sowing 500 square feet) of Organic Hull-Less Oat Cover Crop Seed (Value $9.95) when your next order totals just $39 or more. FREE 2.5 Lb. Sack of Organic Hull-Less Oat Cover Crop Seed Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, August 6, so better order now!   Please use Promo Code WPFF432. Your order and FREE 2.5 Lb. Sack of Organic Hull-Less Oat Cover Crop Seed must ship by August 30, 2018. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please click today!
Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Cover Crop Seed.

Organic Hull-less Oats Cover Crop Seed. Lush, Versatile and fast-growing.
Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

New Irish Dexter Calf Born on Wood Prairie Family Farm.   Standing with her purebred Irish Dexter mother 'Daisy',  little 'Petunia' was recently born unassisted (as is more common with beef cattle than with dairy cattle) on lush pasture that will be rotated into organic seed potatoes for 2019.   As we head more into organic pasture-raised beef, Petunia's father is a hardy-grass-pasture breed Lowline Angus bull. Research shows Lowline Angus astonishingly produce 50% more marketable meat per acre that most other beef breeds, including Herefords, Shorthorns and Simmentals.

Wood Prairie Organic Seed Potatoes in Bloom.  A few weeks ago the blossoms on our crop of organic seed potatoes were at their peak.  In another photograph taken by Sarah, from right to left, are All-Blue, Yukon Gem, Adirondack Blue and Carola.

Logging Truck Passing Wood Prairie Crops.  Three out of four years, our soil-building crop rotation has our fields in sod, devoted to building organic matter and breaking insect and disease cycles.   This year, that rotation brings crop production to our field facing Bootfoot Road.  Here, a logging truck is hauling tree-length hardwood from the woodlands around Number Nine Mountain in the North Maine Woods.  Next to the road and the truck is a field of short-season, open-pollinated heirloom Dorinny Sweet Corn being grown for organic seed.  Organic seed potatoes are the crop on this side of the corn.

Rogueing Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potato Crop.  ‘Spotters’ Megan and Jim, working in Reddales, place white flags at plants which visually exhibit potato virus.  Potato virus is primarily vectored (spread) by aphids.  Next generation seed tubers with virus can slow plant growth and impact performance.  Inspectors from the State of Maine check out our crop three times each year to insure that it meets the rigorous requirements of “Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.”

Diggers Follow Spotters During Rogueing.  Tom and Zack (on tractor) are part of our ‘Diggers’ team which digs up and removes the flagged rogue potato plants which exhibit potato virus.  Rogued plants are placed on the high-clearance ‘Rogueing Cart’, hauled out of the field and carefully destroyed.

The Fruits of Potato Rogueing.  Over the Summer, we rogue our potatoes weekly while the potato crop grows and matures.   This work has its side benefits:  our reward is we get to collect and  eat the delicious tubers growing beneath the rogued out plants.  We steam the tender new potatoes and then just add butter, salt and pepper.

Winter Rye Ripening Towards Harvest.  Last Fall, the day after we finished digging our crop of seed potatoes, we planted a crop of cereal Organic Winter Rye.  It came through the Winter in good shape.  This Spring we under planted the Winter Rye with a mix of clovers and grasses to create a sod which is now lush and growing well.  Very soon we’ll be harvesting the Winter Rye with our grain combine.  This harvested organic Winter Rye crop will be sold as organic cover crop seed and cereal Rye which will make awesome Rye bread!

Caleb Ratcheting Up Tractor Powering the Irrigation Pump.  This Summer’s dry weather has caused us to set up irrigation for the potatoes.  Here our 6” Marlow Irrigation Pump is being powered up by the PTO (power-take-off) on our 92 HP Diesel Oliver 1850 tractor.  Patiently flushing the air out of trunk lines by first idling the tractor engine, Caleb then slowly builds up tractor RPMs and water pressure.  This careful procedure is gentle on equipment and pipe connections.

Three Towers Irrigate Wood Prairie Organic Potatoes.  Our irrigation pump is able to simultaneously run three irrigation towers each with Komet 163 irrigation guns.   Each tower wets a circle 170 feet in diameter.  After one spot has received enough water, we relocate the towers to a new area.

Leonardo Da Vinci on Soil.

Recipe: Blueberry Zucchini Bread.

3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c vegetable oil
3 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c sugar
3 c shredded zucchini
3 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 T ground cinnamon
1 pint fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping
2/3 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c softened butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease Bundt pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar. Fold in zucchini.

Mix in flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and stir until combined.

Gently fold in blueberries and move to Bundt pan.

For the crumb topping, mix the ingredients with your hands and sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.



Blueberry Zucchini Bread.
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