What's Happening At High Mowing?
Happy 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.
Late Blight - Attack of the Killer Plant Disease - Megen
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.
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
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
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
Now that you are in the know, you can enjoy helping your garden grow!
For further information on Late Blight, check out
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
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.
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
Combine finely chopped leftover roasted
or grilled vegetables (like onions and peppers) with you hummus
Add a few tablespoons of pesto
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
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
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.