Dateline: 25 February 2016
Greensrprouting is an old but little known potato seed conditioning process that every gardener who plants potatoes (and wants to achieve maximum yield) should know about. I have only been able to find one clear, complete discussion of how to greensprout potato seed on the internet, and I didn't find it with a Google search. It's kind of hidden. This short blog post tells the story of how I found the information, and it will direct you to the excellent "hidden" tutorial. The story begins with Jim Gerritsen...
Jim Gerritsen and his family have been growing potatoes up in Bridgewater Maine for 40 years. I’ve followed the Wood Prairie Farm website and read articles about Jim for a long time. I’m persuaded that he knows more about how to successfully grow potatoes than most anyone else in this country.
With that in mind I was recently visiting the Wood Prairie Farm web site and I printed off a copy of their excellent Organic Potato Growing Guide. A portion of the guide mentions greensprouting.
Curious to know more about greensprouting, I did a Google search. What I found is that there are some significant advantages to greensprouting seed potatoes. One advantage is that green sprouted potato seed grows up quicker and yields potatoes as much as two weeks sooner than potato seed that is not greensprouted. Another advantage is that you will get more potatoes from greensprouted seed.
Since I am now growing only around a hundred feet of potatoes in my garden, I like the idea of getting the mazimum yield in that amount of space. If greensprouting can help me do that, I’m all for giving it a try.
My Google search of greensprouting turned up several articles. But none of them provided the depth of information I hoped to find.
Then I decided to check out some greensprouting clips on YouTube. There are several videos on the subject, but none provide complete information. So, I sent a note to Jim Gerristen suggesting that he should produce a good YouTube video on the subject.
I didn't expect Jim to write back (this is, after all, their busy season for filling seed potato orders), but he did write back. He told me that Part 1 of his Wood Prairie Potato School webinar from last December covers the topic of green sprouting potato seed.
Well, I didn't know anything about the webinar, and that's when I realized that I hadn't received the Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece newsletter since I had to change my e-mail last summer. So I missed This Newsletter, announcing the free online class.
Jim sent me a link to the Webinar. When I went to the YouTube link, I found the description doesn't mention greensprouting at all, but the webinar discussion is pretty much all about the subject of greensprouting. Having listened to the webinar twice, I believe it is the most complete discussion of green sprouting that you'll find. All my questions (and more) were answered in the webinar presentation.
One of the things you’ll learn from the webinar is that Wood Prairie Farm greensprouts 25,000 pounds of seed potatoes every year, and they have done so for the past 25 years. So when you listen to Jim Gerritsen explain the process you’ll be learning from someone who truly knows what he's talking about. Here's the link to the YouTube webinar: Jim Gerritsen's "Hidden" YouTube Greensprouting Tutorial
If you listen to that webinar, and absorb the information, I think you will know far more about greensprouting than most of the people who have written online articles or produced YouTube videos on the subject. What's more, you will have a bit of gardening knowledge that you can use to be a more successful gardener. It is knowledge that you can pass on to your friends and your children (if you are fortunate enough to have children that are interested in gardening).
I plan to greensprout all of my potato seed this year (some of which I have purchased from Wood Prairie Farm). This is exciting!
If you listen to the webinar, and you appreciate Jim Gerritsen freely sharing his knowledge of the skill of greensprouting, be sure to give it a thumbs up. Also, if you have the time and the inclination to listen to Jim's other Wood Prairie Farm Potato School webinars, you will learn a great deal more about growing potatoes. One of the things you'll learn is what it takes to grow certified seed potatoes. There is a LOT more to the subject than you might think.
One more thing: In the beginning of the webinar, Jim shows an arial view of his farm. You will clearly see that he and his family are farming on the outer fringes of civilization. Do a Google maps view of his farm and you'll see it even more clearly.
Jim Gerritsen and his family have done, and are doing, something remarkable in that they are managing to make a living at farming in such a distant place, away from the major markets. And keep in mind that Jim hasn't written any how-to books to help support his farming pursuits.
That said, I'm sure the story of his 40-year journey of farming (starting, as I understand it, using horses back in the mid-1970s) would make a great book.
I am familiar with the area of Maine where Wood Prairie Farm is because that's where my family roots are. My parents are both from Fort Fairfield, which is a little north of Bridgewater. To get to Jim's farm you need to first go down Bootfoot Road. My Aunt Irene and Uncle Bill Yerxa had a farm on Bootfoot Road. I have nice memories of the place.