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Archive for August 25th, 2011

Turkey Tracks and Interesting Information: Late Blight Hits Potatoes

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Turkey Tracks and Interesting Information:  August 25, 2011

Late Blight Hits Potatoes

We pulled our potatoes last week.

Late blight was on their leaves, and we didn’t want to risk losing all of them.  Even if the potatoes look ok, they don’t taste right if the late blight gets a real hold on the plants.  Late blight is the same culprit that attacked the Irish potatoes and produced the famous famine.

Late blight also attacks tomato plants.  It shrivels up and yellows the leaves as if their edges have been burned.  The stems are next.  There are some black spots.  And the tomatoes get spots on them.  They rot and taste terrible.

So, to save what we could and to protect the tomatoes, we pulled the potatoes–which meant they would not continue to grow up into September, or about another 4-6 weeks.

We started with 6 varieties:  La Ratte fingerlings, Red Pontiac, Elba, Katahdin, German Butterballs, and a Russet.  Here’s what the harvest looked like.   (Remember we’ve been eating the fingerlings.)

Aren’t they pretty?  Even if still smallish.

Maine has been struggling with late blight for three years now.  It first came to us on tomato plants grown in the south and shipped in here for the big box stores.  So, it’s another legacy of monocrop culture and capitalism that doesn’t control for disease.  The spores of late blight can travel for miles and miles on the air currents–more than 40.  That first year, late blight wiped out the new England tomato harvest.

I’ve read about “organic” spraying strategies, but the sprays seem not to be what I want on my soil or near my body.  Better to forego potatoes and tomatoes if necessary.

C’est la vie!

Written by louisaenright

August 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Turkey Tracks: Vitamin B12 and My Favorite Dinner

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Turkey Tracks:  August 25, 2011

Vitamin B12 and My Favorite Dinner

Without a doubt, this dinner is my favorite:  Grilled STEAK, fresh corn on the cob, a big salad, and a piece of dark chocolate with caramel crunch and sea salt.

I am my father’s daughter.

Only, my father took many drugs for allergies and asthma.  Also, he had a sweet tooth, which did not help with his gut flora and fauna.  He probably had an overgrowth of yeasts in this gut.  And, as he aged, he, like many, started having trouble with stomach acid–so he couldn’t digest his food well.  I remember him going around with Tums all the time.  BUT, the problem more often is LOW stomach acid, not the reverse.  (Keep hydrochloric acid–HCL–with pepsin on hand for when you have stomach rumbles and acid reflux.)  And when that happens, the body struggles to process food.  The gut becomes damaged, so one starts experiencing malabsorption, which leads to malnutrition.  My mother used to say “I feed him really well, and he eats, but he’s just getting thinner and thinner.”

Here’s a quote from “Could It Be Vitamin B12?,” by Sally M. Pacholok and Jeffrey J. Stuart, in the Sept/Oct issue of WELL BEING JOURNAL, pages 16-20:

“A far more common cause of B12 deficiency, especially in people over fifty, is a condition called atrophic gastritis, an inflammation and deterioration of the stomach lining.  Atrophic gastritis reduces the secretion of the stomach acid that is needed to separate vitamin B12 from protein–a problem often made worse by proton-pump inhibitors and antacids or other medications.  In addition, older people have smaller numbers of the cells that produce intrinsic factor” (18).  (Intrinsic factor is a protein produced in the stomach that is necessary to process B12.)

My dad started getting vitamin B shots, but the body can’t utilize B12 if other ingredients, like intrinsic factor,  are not also in place.  It’s a really complicated and delicate balance.  A lack of vitamin B12, in particular, causes dementia, which slipped up on my dad gradually.  He died not knowing who we were or who he was.

A really strong source of B12 is red meat.  Liver has especially high levels.  But you can also get some from poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.  Bi-valves apparently have high levels of B12 (clams, mussels, oysters).  B12 is  produced in the guts of animals, so you cannot get it from plants.  If you want to read more, here’s an article from the Weston A. Price Foundation web site on B12:    http://www.westonaprice.org/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b12.

So, the corn on my plate came from Hope’s Edge CSA.  It’s such a treat when it comes in every year.  And, doesn’t it look pretty this year?  The lettuce, cukes, broccoli, onions, and beans came from our garden.  (I often put leftover veggies on the next day’s salad.)  Our lettuce, as the summer has been cool, has just lasted and lasted.  The carrots, beets, and tomatoes came from Hope’s Edge.  The salad dressing is homemade–good olive oil, some mustard, some fresh garlic, some fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar.  The iced drink is Kombucha, a fermented fruity tea drink which is great to sip before eating as it starts activating digestive juices.  The chocolate is Fair Trade.  And the milk is, of course, REAL.

It was a perfect summer meal!


In a small bowl, crush a clove of garlic with a fork.  If you add some salt, you can get a kind of paste while you mash.  Add herbs and pepper.  Add a tablespoon of Dijon-type mustard, add 2-3Tablespoons of red-wine vinegar.  Mix well.  Drizzle in olive oil while stirring with the fork–it will take about 3/4 cup for taste, and it will blend with the other ingredients so that it thickens.  You could add a raw egg for a richer version.  You can also just dump everything into a small jar (1 cup or more) and shake really well.

Written by louisaenright

August 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Turkey Tracks: A Tableau

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Turkey Tracks:  August 25, 2011

A Tableau

A Barbanter chicken feather.

A white-faced hornet nest started and abandoned in one of the compost bins.

A granite rock from Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde, Maine.

These are the kinds of things that come home in my pockets and hands.

Written by louisaenright

August 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm