Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
            Friday, October 12th, 2018
                 Volume 27 Issue 20


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Digging Done.

     Finishing Up 2018 Wood Prairie Potato Harvest. Digging Organic Island Sunshine Potatoes on the second-to-the last day of this year’s potato harvest. Our cloudy and moderately wet Fall has turned real wet with an additional 2.80” of rain since we got done digging.
      The photos in this issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece were taken by Caleb’s sister, Sarah.  In this shot, Jim is driving our 92 HP Oliver 1850 Diesel which is pulling our Finnish Juko Super-Midi Potato Harvester.  Working on the Juko are Amy and Megan Gerritsen, full-timer Tom, and neighbor student, Jack.  Laying prone on the Juko Trailer is Nate who works to collect small tubers which have dropped through the cracks.  The logging chain on the front of the tractor reminds us of the wet Fall we’ve had.
      About 20% of the Aroostook potato crop remains in the ground and is waiting for drying weather so harvest can start back up.  Students went back to school after the three-week Harvest Break last Tuesday, so now farmers are dealing both with muddy conditions and lean crews.  The good news is while we’ve had some cold nights this Fall, so far we haven’t heard of anyone yet suffering frost damage in their potato crop.
Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Closeup of Finnish Juko Potato Harvester. Potatoes are unearthed from the hilled-up potato row by the front-most mounted “Spade.”  Tubers, rocks, dirt and dried out potato tops tumble onto the belted lag “Primary;” dirt and small stones get shaken through the Primary lags.  At the top of the Primary, tops are yanked back down and spit back onto the ground by the “Pinch Roller.” Then what’s left are tubers mixed with larger rocks.  These are “Separated” from one another by the Juko’s advanced separation engineering which involves conveyance upon a back-revolving “Hedgehog Belt” working in tandem with a gang of fast-rocking “Pendulum Fingers.”  Typically, Separation miraculously operates with about 90% efficiency, which leaves the four workers positioned on the “Secondary” belted lags to deal with the misguided 20% of malcontents.  That means fast handwork and tossing errant rocks from the wide “Potato Side” of the lags over to the narrow “Rock Side” and vice versa.  Potatoes travel along the perpendicular Secondary until they are gently laid into a wood pallet box.  Sorted and segregated rocks make their way along the Secondary to the “Rock Hopper” which once full is tripped, door opened and gravity-dumped onto the field.  Rocks will be collected, picked up and removed from the field in a second effort using a machine call a “Rock Picker.”

Spare Pallet Boxes and Autumn Leaves. Lined up next to the forklift are 2000-pound-capacity wooden pallet boxes, patiently waiting for their annual sixty minutes of fame and breathless attention.  In Northern Maine, when the leaves turn color we know it’s time we should be out digging potatoes.

Oliver 1650 Tractor and Fall Sky on Wood Prairie Family Farm.  This 63HP Oliver 1650 Diesel tractor has been rigged up with a set forklift forks mounted on the tractor’s three-point-hitch.  It’s job is to ferry pallet boxes full of potatoes out of the field to where mud-averse forklifts can load wagons and trucks.  Note the set of white “Suitcase Weights” – each one weighing one-hundred pounds – mounted on the front of the tractor to serve as ballast for the heavy pallet boxes.

Caleb Running Wood Prairie Rockpicker.  After we dig potatoes from a section of field, Caleb will use another Oliver 1650 Diesel, this one hooked up to our Lockwood two-row Rockpicker.  He’ll gather up the piles of stones dumped from our Juko's Rock Hopper.  You can watch a short video from five years ago on our Wood Prairie You Tube Channel of Caleb running the amazing Rockpicker here.

Planting Turkey Red Winter Wheat on Wood Prairie Family Farm.  Right after we finished digging our potatoes we deep chisel-plowed this field.  Then last weekend Jim and Amy planted the field to heirloom Organic Turkey Red Winter Wheat.   Jim is driving the Farmall 460 gas tractor pulling an International Harvester 510 Grain Drill.  The drill plants both the wheat seed and a mix of Organic Clovers and Organic Timothy Grass.  Amy is using a hand-spin spreader to spin on Organic Perennial Ryegrass.  The dissimilar shape and density of the Perennial Rye – compared to Clovers and Timothy – make the two incompatible in our drill “Grass Box.”  Our solution for uniform spreading is to have Amy take a seat and spin on 100% Perennial Rye.  The homemade Roller we pull behind the grain drill is a design we years ago copied from another farmer.  It utilizes wornout tires to firm up the top inch or two of soil improving the contact between small seeds and soil thereby improving seeding germination.

Special Offer: FREE Organic Red Russian Garlic Seed.

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      Fall is the best time to plant this hardy Rocambole garlic for harvest next Summer.  Garlic appreciates full fertility so consider adding a good organic fertilizer when growing your own garlic crop.

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Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Vegetable Seed.

Organic Red Russian Garlic. Good for eating, good for planting in the Fall.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. on Experiences.

Recipe: Crispy Rosemary-Parmesan Potato Wedges.
Boil in salted water until just barely tender:
3 Caribou Russet potatoes, sliced lengthwise into 8 wedges each
Drain and cool slightly.

On a plate, combine:
1/3 c Panko breadcrumbs
2 T minced fresh rosemary
2 T grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Brush potato wedges with olive oil and press them into the panko mixture until coated on the cut sides. Bake in a 400F oven 10-15 minutes. Flip the wedges and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and golden.



A Delicious Fall Snack.
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