First, a quick "programming note": I will be taking a blog break next week in light of the Labor Day holiday and will resume posting the week of September 10th.
I had posted a couple of months ago about our potato crop. Well, last weekend I started harvesting them, and wow, do we have potatoes. I took that photo with my cellphone on Sunday. I had harvested rows of Green Mountains (yellow) and Sangres (red) on Saturday; the potatoes in the photo are Salems I pulled up on Sunday. So far the Salems are the high yielders, producing about 50% more than the other two types. But I have many more rows, and types, to pull out of the ground again this coming weekend before I can hand out any ribbons!
We grew these without any chemicals -- no fertilizers other than good old-fashioned manure, and no pesticides or herbicides. We controlled the major potato pest, the Colorado potato beetle, by handpicking the little devils. And there were a lot of them, even though we rotated this year's crop onto new ground that hadn't seen potatoes before. But the handpicking worked and the potatoes survived the beetles just fine.
Ever since reading in Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire several years ago how conventional potatoes are cultivated, we have only eaten organically grown potatoes. In a New York Times Magazine article that later became the basis for his chapter on potatoes in The Botany of Desire, Pollan recounted a conversation with a potato farmer named Danny Forsyth:
"I asked him to walk me through a season’s regimen. It typically begins early in the spring with a soil fumigant; to control nematodes, many potato farmers douse their fields with a chemical toxic enough to kill every trace of microbial life in the soil. Then, at planting, a systemic insecticide (like Thimet) is applied to the soil; this will be absorbed by the young seedlings and, for several weeks, will kill any insect that eats their leaves. After planting, Forsyth puts down an herbicide — Sencor or Eptam — to "clean" his field of all weeds. When the potato seedlings are six inches tall, an herbicide may be sprayed a second time to control weeds."
But that's not all. The potatoes then received 10 applications of chemical fertilizers during the growing season, as well as 8 applications of a fungicide ... followed by two applications of a chemical spray to control aphids.
"...farmers like Danny Forsyth must spray their fields with some of the most toxic chemicals in use, including an organophosphate called Monitor.
'Monitor is a deadly chemical,' Forsyth said. 'I won’t go into a field for four or five days after it’s been sprayed — even to fix a broken pivot.' That is, he would sooner lose a whole [135-acre] circle to drought than expose himself or an employee to Monitor, which has been found to cause neurological damage."
You can see why we stopped eating conventional potatoes a long time ago! And yes, it's not just potatoes that get this kind of chemical drench, so we generally only eat organically raised food.
After pulling the potatoes from the ground, we let them "cure" for a bit and then put them in the root cellar. If the rest of the potato varieties yield like the Salems, our root cellar is going to be overflowing and we'll be looking for more places to store them!
Please Vote for the Farm!
The latest Shelter Challenge started Monday, July 9 and ends at midnight on September 16. Grand prize in this round is $5,000, plus $1,000 for weekly winners and $1,000 for state winners. There are also other categories ... please see the Shelter Challenge website for details.
*** We are now LISTED UNDER OUR NEW NAME, ROLLING DOG FARM. State is still NH for New Hampshire. ***
Please remember, you can vote every day ... consider bookmarking the voting page to make it easy.
We just won $1,000 as a weekly winner in the last contest, and thousands more in the previous contests. The Shelter Challenge really does bring in a lot of money for the animals here!
You can vote in the Shelter Challenge here.
Thank you for your votes!