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

The Seed Bin - July 2010

Greetings from Tom
Trials Field Walks - Wed. July 21st, 2010
Trials Update: Lettuce, Melons & Greenhouse Tomatoes
From Butterflies to Brassicas: Identifying and Controlling the Imported Cabbage Worm
Talking to Customers About Organic Seed
Katie’s Kitchen – Quick, Summer Vegetable Side Dishes
Upcoming Food & Farming Events – Save the Date for the Kingdom Farm & Food Days

Seeking Volunteers for August Kingdom Farm & Food Days

Unique Varieties for Fall Planting

Get creative with your fall garden this year!

Try planting (from L-R) Miyashigi White Daikon , Korridor Kohlrabi ,
Cylindra Beet , or Leonardo Radicchio  for something
delicious and different!

Greetings From Tom

Hello growers and gardeners!
Harvesting organic squashAn early season has already yielded our first tomatoes from the garden and, thankfully, so far we have not seen insect populations going crazy like we often do when the weather is weird.  The cool weather we got at the end of June has been replaced by an early July heat wave.  I can hear the squash growing.  In our production fields, the first flush of fruit on our Success PM seed crop is almost ready for picking.  You likely know that if you stop picking summer squash and let the fruit grow bigger (in order to mature the seeds), the plants will slow down producing new fruits in order to focus their energy on ripening and maturing their existing fruits.  At maximum, the plants will usually set 4-6 fruit per plant for seed, but if we don't pick the first two flushes of squash, the plants will set less fruit per plant, maybe only one or two.  So, we get to eat our squash and have a seed crop too – and increase our yield by doing so!

Since we are not in the business of selling produce, we work with a customer and friend who brings his crew over to harvest for about two weeks.  As long as they stop picking by the end of July, the plants still have plenty of time to mature seed.  I expect that our plants will yield several thousand pounds of summer squash to local families this year. In addition, after we have extracted the seed, much of our winter squash gets pureed and is used for pies and soups.  It is good to get as much out of these crops as possible and though we are primarily focused on these crops for seed, when we can do both, it works out well. 

Tom Stearns,
President & Founder

Trials Field Walks - next walk: Wed. July 21st, 4-6pm

Growers Walks at High Mowing Organic Seeds For the second summer in a row, High Mowing Organic Seeds will host monthly “ Trials Field Walks”, guided tours of the over 800 vegetable, herb and flower varieties being grown, compared and evaluated in the 3-acre HMS trials garden.  Join High Mowing Organic Seeds trials manager Heather Jerrett for a walk down the rows, to see and taste some of High Mowing’s newly-released, exclusive varieties, like King Crimson pepper and Midnight Lightning zucchini, along with labeled displays of many, many more varieties.  The High Mowing Organic Seeds trial garden serves as a rigorous testing ground for selecting stand-out varieties to make available through the annual seed catalog.  Visitors will learn how data is collected to accurately describe and assess variety characteristics independently and in comparison to other varieties. 

Next Walk: Wednesday, July 21st, 4 – 6 PM – Focus on cucumbers, beets, carrots, cabbages (fresh market), herbs, snap beans, okra, artichokes, and fava beans.

For more information, please visit our website page on our Trials Field Walks.

Trials Update - Lettuce, Melons & Greenhouse Tomatoes - by Heather Jerrett, High Mowing Organic Seeds Trials Manager

Happy summer everyone!

Rhizoc - Bottom Rot Every year we grow out hundreds of varieties in our trials of many crop types, but there are always a few new crop types per year we like to focus our efforts on. This year we are growing artichokes and okra for the first time and are excited to be able to offer both of these new crop types in our 2011 catalog.

We just finished looking at our first round of lettuce. Our abundance of early season rain brought on a severe outburst of Rhizoctonia (Bottom Rot) and Sclerotinia (Lettuce Drop). Both of these are soil borne fungi that are persistent for many years in the soil and hard to eliminate. Rhizoc tends to create rust streaks on the underside of leaves as an initial indicator and eventually reduces the
plants ability to take up water and the leaves slowly melt into a slimy mess. Lettuce Drop is similar but usually has a cottony white mold associated with it and results in entire plants just all of a sudden wilting and dropping to their death. Both of these diseases are not part of any major breeding focus in the lettuce world. This is mainly because most lettuce is bred in California for the big growers and these fungal pathogens are not an issue in the more arid areas of the west coast. It is sometimes believed that an overall good resistance to other fungal pathogens, like downy mildew, may be associated with overall better resistance, but we have found this not be true. We have noticed some varieties like Red Tide that show good field resistance. However, they are few and far between. Take notice of remarks in our variety descriptions indicating which varieties we have noticed better resistance in.

We are continuing our quest for a wider selection of melons that perform well in our short season and will be trialing over 1,000 row feet this year with some very promising varieties. We were able to get our melons out about three weeks early and they are already flowering and setting fruit. Yay! If we can beat the powdery mildew onset I think we will be in good shape. Last year we applied sulfur as a preventative and then copper later when we saw more and more powdery mildew. We still noticed that although the melons did yield more fruit, the flavor was not as good as the earlier varieties.

Our greenhouse tomatoes are looking great with fruit ripening as early as the second week in June in our unheated tunnels. This year we are continuing our search for excellent greenhouse varieties for organic growers as well as organic root stocks. We had gotten a lot of requests for this type of organic seed and by chance have stumbled onto some interesting prospects. For the trial we took our Lola tomato for a scion and grafted it onto three experimental varieties, as well as Maxifort.  We are also growing these same varieties ungrafted as a way to check the advantage of the graft overall. All the grafts took well and are doing great.  Initially, we noticed the ungrafted Lola was just as vigorous, if not a bit more, as the plants that had been grafted. Then we realized this was just because of recovery time. We are now seeing some differences in vigor and fruit set. If we do find a variety that works just as well or better than Maxifort we will continue onto the next step of the process: performing the interspecies cross between an eggplant and a tomato which is typical to obtain the supreme hybrid vigor and disease resistances high quality root stocks offer. We’re learning a lot, and it’s an exciting process.

Speaking of greenhouses we are excited to be one of the recipients of the high tunnel grants from the Natural Resource Conservation Service and are planning on extensive winter crop trial beginning this fall. We have worked with local growers to evaluate and see what varieties are working for them and this will be our next step in learning about these crops.

Send us an email and let us know what varieties or crop types you would like to see available as organic seed and we will put your request to work. Send all requests to questions@highmowingseeds.com

From Butterflies to Brassicas: Identifying and Controlling the Imported Cabbage Worm - Megen Toaldo, Sales Associate  

Cabbage Moth Have you ever noticed small white butterflies circling through your garden?  After you have admired their graceful garden dance, check the undersides of the leaves of your brassica plants, such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards, and brussels sprouts.  You are likely to find this garden pest in its larval form, commonly referred to as the cabbage worm.  They are small, green, velvety, and have a resemblance to inchworms. 

It is possible that you may have already noticed the damage to your plants.  The Cabbage worms, the larval form of the Cabbage White Butterfly, build their chrysalis in the fall and hatch as butterflies in the spring.  The butterfly feeds on nectar and then lays single eggs on the undersides of brassica leaves.  The eggs hatch in about one week and the larva feed ravenously on the leaves of the host plant leaving it full of holes and dark green droppings that are easy to see as you wander through your garden. You may also keep your eye out for entry holes on the heads of cabbages where the worms will burrow their way in for a heavier meal. 

This common pest can be a nuisance, but can usually be identified early enough to control before the problem gets out of hand.  Check your plants frequently for worms, especially if you spot the butterfly fluttering about.  You can also use floating row cover as a preventative measure in the spring and early summer when egg laying activity is high.  Some folks recommend slipping a nylon stocking over the heads of your cabbage plants to prevent the worms from burrowing in.

While a serious infestation can lead to the death of the host plant, minor infestations can be easily controlled by picking off the worms and destroying them.  If the infestation becomes more than you can handle, Dipel, a biological insecticide containing the bacteria Bacillis thuringiensis (bt), is approved for organic use and can be sprayed on your plants (being sure to cover the undersides of the leaves as well). Once the worms ingest a lethal dose, they will stop feeding within the hour and die within 3 days.  For the best effect, alternate the use of Dipel with Entrust, which is spinosad (a fermented byproduct of a soil dwelling bacterium Saccharpolyspora spinosa.  With Entrust, the worms cease feeding and become paralyzed just moments after ingestion.  Alternating use of these two biological controls will help to limit tolerance to one or the other.

Now that you are in the know, you can enjoy helping your garden grow!  Tune in next month to learn about powdery mildew.


Talking to Customers About Organic Seed - Paul Betz, High Mowing Organic Seeds Sales Associate and owner of High Ledge Farm, VT

Farmer Paul Betz We have been attending our market for ten seasons now, and one thing that is a constant is that our customers are great. They are interested in how we farm, and are doing their part in promoting and supporting locally produced food. For several years now, I have been listing the varieties that I use on our signs. People are interested in this piece of our production, and it also allows gardeners an aid in sorting out what works in our area. What a great forum to talk about organic seed.

Chances are that if you are using organic seed on your farm or in your garden, you have good reasons. Mine include a solid commitment to organic agriculture. The production of conventional seed crops is a heavily treated operation. The crop is generally in the ground for a longer season, and is available to more pests and diseases for a longer time. Even
though the seed is not eaten per se, the extra applications of chemical controls run contrary to how I feel anything should be produced. Whenever a crop can be produced organically, I consider that a better choice.

I also want seeds that are going to perform in an organic system. My fertility is compost and soil based, and I need varieties that are going to have the root systems to go looking for that goodness.

Lastly, I use organic seeds to do my part in supporting fellow organic farmers. The organic seed industry is still growing, and farmers and seed companies that are producing organically need to be shown that there is a market for their seeds. As demand increases, new breeding programs can begin that will create more organic varieties that produce well in organic systems. That will benefit everyone, as improvements in variety selection allow farms to grow and become more profitable.

Using Organic SeedsI think my customers want to know about this piece of how their food is being produced. I have now added the words “grown from organic seed” to the signs that I use at market. It may be a subtle change, but I think that the impact can be great. We sell a lot of plants in the spring, and I had customers asking not only about the use of organic seed, but where some of their favorite varieties were. I was able to talk to people about my choices to use seed from seed producers I trust, and why some stand-bys weren’t in my display. My hope is that people will start to think more about organic production “from seed to plate,” and how some conscious decisions can have a profound effect on the world around us.

I hope this season brings everything you need.

Katie's Kitchen - Katie Lavin, Wholesale Sales Manager

Quick, Summer Vegetable Side Dishes

It’s a busy time of year...perfect for grilling and eating quickly! These side dishes are ready when you are.

Potato Salad (serves 4-6)

  • 2 lb potatoes, chopped and cooked until tender
  • ¾ cup mayo
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt (or use all mayo if preferred)
  • 3-4 TBS fresh chopped dill or chopped dill pickles
  • 3-4 TBS fresh minced chives or scallions, white and green parts
  • Some crunchy raw vegetable, chopped fine: celery, carrots, chard stems, cucumber

Mix all ingredients together.  Garnish with chive flower blossoms, panies, or nasturiums.

Grilled Greens (serve one half or quarter per person)

Asian vegetables grow quickly and are often the first vegetables to appear at a farmer’s market or in a CSA share.  This is a quick, easy and healthy accompaniment to grilled meat.

  • Bok Choi or Chinese cabbage, cut in half length-wise (cut in quarters if very large)
  • Olive oil, for brushing on
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brush olive oil on greens after removing any loose leaves.  Put on grill, 3-7 minutes per side depending on the size of your vegetable and desired doneness.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Optional: Brush on your favorite marinade before grilled, or spoon on a spicy peanut sauce after cooking. 

Kingdom Farm and Food Days - Aug. 21-22nd  

Kingdom Farm and Food Days - Aug. 21-22nd - High Mowing Organic Seeds, Center for an Agricultural Economy and New England Culinary Institute are once again hosting the Kingdom Farm & Food Days, a free, fun-filled event in celebration of good food and Vermont agriculture.  On Saturday, participating farms in the Northeast Kingdom will open their doors to the public. The Craftsbury Outdoor Center will lead a bike tour of local farms. On Sunday, High Mowing Organic Seeds’ trials garden will be open for self-guided and hour-long guided tours throughout the day. The New England Culinary Institute (NECI) will present an amazing array of locally produced food in Sunday afternoon’s Local Foods Showcase.  There will be live music, workshops and an evening bonfire.  This community-wide and family-friendly event is free, with suggested donations or small fees to some of the exclusive events.  More information, updates and directions can be found at The Center for an Agricultural Economy website.

We're seeking volunteers to help!
We need volunteers for shifts lasting three to four hours on both Saturday and Sunday.  Volunteers will receive a t-shirt, a “thank you” bag filled with goodies from local producers, and the warm, fuzzy feeling of helping to put on this great, free event!  Contact elena@hardwickagriculture.org if you are interested in volunteering.

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