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High Mowing Organic Seeds
High Mowing Organic Seeds High Mowing Organic Seeds

The Seed Bin - June 2011


What's Happening At High Mowing?

Pollination CageHappy summer, everyone! After a rather wet, damp, rainy spring, things are finally starting to get rolling around here. Transplants are happily settled in the soil and we can practically hear the chlorophyll churning away. It's a good time to be walking around the trial and production fields, taking in all that new growth. We invite you to come and do just that - we are holding our Trials Field Walks again this year. Our highly knowledgeable staff will lead you through our Trials Fields, highlighting different crops and specific varieties each week. Check out the Field Walks schedule for crop types and times. (And don't worry, if you live too far away, we're going to be videotaping some of the walks and will post them on our website later this year.) This year we're also excited to add a new Pollination Cage to our production fields - we'll be using it to grow our own exclusive varieties of pumpkins, zucchini and squash out for next year's stock seed. The pollination cages allow us to grow crops in isolation, yet within a much closer proximity of each other, which helps maintain our farming efficiency.

And don't forget about our huge, late-summer celebration held at the Kingdom Farm and Food Days - this year it will be held Sunday, August 21st. Mark your calenders, and plan on joining us for a fabulous day of informative talks and workshops, variety taste-testing, and of course, an amazing dinner put together by the students of the New England Culinary Institute, using organic produce from our own farm.

Happy Gardening!

Late Blight - Attack of the Killer Plant Disease - Megen Hall

The pathogen Phytophthora infestans, commonly called Late Blight or Irish Potato Blight, has been responsible for the demise of potato, tomato, and other solanaceous crops worldwide for centuries.  It was the vicious culprit of the European, Irish, and Highland Potato Famines in the 1840’s and, more recently, the widespread epidemic in the Northeastern U.S. in 2009.  This pathogen strikes when weather conditions are moist (high humidity, fog, dew, rain, etc.) with nighttime temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees F and daytime temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees F for 4-5 continual days.  Late Blight is essentially a water mold that, under these conditions, can spread rapidly, defoliating your entire crop within 3 days to 3 weeks. The first symptoms are irregular grayish spots on leaves that have a water soaked appearance.  Eventually, all plant tissue will become necrotic and fruit and tubers will develop legions and rot.  Because it is very difficult to manage organically, let’s focus mainly on prevention.

Your first line of defense should be to try to find tomato and potato varieties that are resistant to Late Blight.  Currently there are not a whole lot of choices for organic tomato seed and seed potatoes, but there are many plant breeders that are currently working on new resistant varieties and more should be available soon.  In my experience, as well as many of our customers’, Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato is a High Mowing Organic Seeds variety that shows great resistance.  If you insist on planting your favorite standby varieties, there are other things you can do to help you prevent this disease in your garden.  First, choose seed potatoes that come from certified seed potato producers.  Certified seed potatoes are monitored closely by professionals that can spot early signs of disease making you less likely purchase diseased seed.  You do not have to worry about tomato seed, as tomato seed cannot transmit Late Blight.

Late Blight can only survive on living plant tissue; therefore you should begin by planting in an area where there are no current volunteer hosts, such as tomato, potato, eggplant, or peppers.  If possible, avoid planting in the same area where these crops were planted last season, as the spores can over-winter in areas with mild, frost-free winters.  And, at the end of the season, be sure to remove and destroy any diseased plant matter, fruit or tubers.  However, if you live in an area with very cold winters, you can spread the plant matter on the soil surface and the spores will not survive.

Knowing that P. infestans thrives in moist conditions, you will want to do all you can to be sure your plants have adequate airflow and can dry out from the morning dew or after rainfall.  Choose an area of your garden or a field with good air circulation, well-drained soil, and areas that are not shaded by trees or structures.  You can also orient your planting rows with the prevailing winds to increase airflow, making sure to allow adequate space between plants.  Staking and pruning your tomatoes will also increase airflow, but be sure not to do this when the plants are wet.  If you are irrigating, drip irrigation is better than overhead irrigation because it keeps that plant dry.  If you have to use overhead irrigation, choose your time of day carefully because you want to be sure the plants have a chance to dry out before nightfall. And hilling your potatoes high will help to protect the tubers below from being exposed to any spores that might leach though the soil with rain or irrigation water.  Another thing to consider is crop nutrition.  An oversupply of nitrogen will encourage a large, lush canopy that produces less fruit and will also take much longer to dry out.  And lastly, be sure to manage your weeds, as weeds impede airflow as well.

Once you spot the symptoms of this disease in your garden, it is likely too late to reverse the effects, but there are organic controls that you can use preventatively.  Spraying your plants with compost tea or other foliar feeds, especially ones formulated with kelp, can help to suppress the blight.  By adding beneficial bacteria, you are inoculating the leaf surfaces with microorganisms that act rivals to the invading pathogens and make it difficult for them to get started.  Similarly, Serenade biofungicide is a wettable powder that inhibits the attachment of the pathogen, stops it from growing, and helps develop resistance in the plant.  Other organic sprays that act as preventatives are copper spays such as Champion WP and Storox, a hydrogen-dioxide based pesticide (which has shown variable results as a curative as well). And remember, all sprays require complete and regular coverage of all plant surfaces to be effective.

Now that you are in the know, you can enjoy helping your garden grow! 

For further information on Late Blight, check out
eOrganic eXtension's Late Blight and its Management in Organic Gardens webinar.

All pictures were taken from Cornell University's website. For these pictures, as well as other pictures of Late Blight, please visit their Research and Extension website.

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Katie's Kitchen - Summer Hummus - Katie Lavin, Wholesale Sales Manager

Hummus is a great summer food.  It is high in protein, vegetarian, and easy to pack for a picnic or a potluck, and less expensive than store bought hummus.  It is also versatile.  You can make infinite hummus flavors depending on what herbs and vegetables are available.  Here is a basic recipe with some add-ons.  I like to make a big batch—it holds in the fridge, and also freezes well.  Use cucumber slices, sliced radishes, and carrot sticks as dippers, and large lettuce leaves as wrappers for your hummus.  Garnish your hummus platter with edible blossoms like calendula petals, or nasturtiums.

Basic Hummus Recipe

  • 2 (15 oz) cans of drained chickpeas (or 4 cups of cooked chickpeas)
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of tahini
  • Tamari or soy sauce or salt, to taste
  • Water to thin, if needed
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • Olive oil, to drizzle on top

Blend garlic and chickpeas together in a food processor. Add lemon juice, tahini and tamari and blend until smooth. Add water to thin if necessary. Spoon into a bowl and drizzle with some olive oil.

Extra Special Additions to Basic Hummus

  • Blend ½ cup of chopped fresh dill with the chickpeas and garlic
  • Use orange juice instead of lemon juice; add ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, cumin, 1 TBS of apple cider vinegar, a scallion or two, and ¼ cup of fresh cilantro leaves. Add more orange juice for a thinner dip
  • Add 1 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • Use black beans instead of chickpeas
  • Combine finely chopped leftover roasted or grilled vegetables (like onions and peppers) with you hummus
  • Add a few tablespoons of pesto

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Upcoming Events with High Mowing

Join us for monthly Trials Field Walks for gardeners and professional growers. These free guided tours will highlight over 800 vegetable, herb and flower varieties being grown, compared and evaluated in the 3-acre HMS trials garden.

The High Mowing Organic Seeds trials garden serves as a rigorous testing ground for selecting stand-out varieties to offer through our annual seed catalog. Join us to learn and share information about growing specific crops, handling pests and diseases, and for a sneak preview of new varieties that may soon be available as organic seed!

Wednesday, June 22nd, 5:30-7:00pm
Spinach, lettuce, beets, radishes, and other spring-planted crops.

Sunday, July 24th, 3:00-4:30pm
Cucumbers, summer squash, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and lettuce.

Sunday, August 21st, Kingdom Farm and Food Days, 10:00am-2:00pm
Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons and more.

Wednesday, September 21st, 5:00-6:30pm
Pumpkins, winter squash, root vegetables, fall greens, and brassicas.

Trails Walks are held at the HMS trial garden on Marsh Road in Wolcott, VT.

Tradeshows we'll be at:

Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference
Kissimmee, FL
July 15-17, 2011
The purpose of the Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference is to provide farmers with more in-depth educational information, to facilitate networking, dialog, and visioning among members of the Florida small farms community, and to increase awareness of the small farms industry to decision makers, supporting institutions, and the general public. The conference will provide high quality educational and networking activities geared to small farms. Concurrent educational sessions (presentations, workshops, hands-on demonstration, and discussion groups) will be provided to share results of groundbreaking research and provide educational support for producers to operate sustainable and profitable enterprises.

NOFA Summer Conference and Northeast Animal-Power Field Days
Amherst, MA
August 12-14, 2011
The summer NOFA conference offers more than 225 workshops on organic farming, gardening and land care, draft animals in farming and forestry, homesteading, sustainability, nutrition, food politics, activism, and much, much more. There is a special conference for children and teens and plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

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