This Week on the Farm 1/5/11
Well it is the start of a new year and we are definitely looking forward to 2011. Nothing says excitement like looking at seed catalogs and we have spent the last week or so pouring over seed catalogs. All of the new varieties and all of the color photos make us long for spring when the earth warms up and green things start to grow. We have finally decided on all of the varieties (except what types of lettuce to grow) and will be ordering seeds in the next week or two. If you want to see what we are planning on growing take a look at the 2011 Crop list in the Misc. section of our website.
This year all of the seed we are going to plant will be certified organic. Although we do not technically need to do this since we are still considered in transition to becoming certified organic, we believe that it is important to do everything we can to provide you with the best produce. It will be another 2 1/2 years until we can become certified organic (the transition stage is three years from the last application of a restricted substance, which in our case was treated sweet corn seed), but we are doing everything we can to follow the guidelines of organic farming.
We are really excited to be able to buy all of our seed potatoes right here in Wisconsin! That statement may sound odd as Wisconsin is the third largest potato producing state, but finding certified organic potatoes is harder than you may think. Potatoes are vegetatively propagated, which means the “seed” that we use to grow new potatoes is the same as the spud you serve at the dinner table. That “seed” can hold all of the viruses, fungi, and bacteria that the plant came in contact with over the course of the growing season. If you plant that “seed,” all of those pathogens are there with the plant and can be easily spread to the new potato crop. To prevent this from happening, any potatoes that a farmer produces and does not sell must be removed from the field and destroyed. New potatoes that have been certified as “clean seed” have to be purchased each year in order to grow potatoes. *Fun Fact-Wisconsin has the most stringent laws concerning clean potato seed in the United States*
Buying certified clean seed is fairly easy, especially here in Wisconsin. Buying certified clean seed that is also certified organic is difficult. The major producers are located in the northeast and the northwest of the U.S., not in the midwest. The cost of shipping potatoes can be enormous. That is why we are so thrilled to find a C.S.A. right here in Wisconsin that produces certified organic clean seed. Check out Vermont Valley Community Farms to learn more about their potato growing philosophy.
Another cool C.S.A. style program we found was through High Mowing Organic Seeds. High Mowing is an organic seed company out of Vermont and they offer a C.S.S. This is a community supported seed share. If you bought a share between November 1 through December 31, 2010, you would get 10% off of your order. So if you paid $90 in 2010, you get $100 of seeds or supplies in 2011. Needless to say, we definitely took advantage of this program. We will let you know what we think of their service, seed availability, and seed quality.
And in other news, we bought more blue totes! Last season we were always running low on blue totes. We have added 64 new totes to our stock pile. We bought out the Madison and Beaver Dam Menards, so if you were looking for blue totes, sorry, we got there first:)