Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

NRAES Cranks Out Ag Publications
Growing Herbs and Vegetables from Seed to Harvest
One Book – 10,000 Plants
New Logsdon Books Available
Monday to Friday Chicken
Better Basics for the Home
Adrian Bloom’s Year-Round Garden

NRAES Cranks Out Ag Publications

The following publications are available from the Natural Resource, Agriculture and Engineering Service, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca NY 14853-5701. For a free catalog listing prices, write to NRAES or call 607-255-7654; fax 607-254-8770; e-mail; or visit

Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to Market

Post-Frame Building Handbook – Materials, Design Considerations, Construction Procedures

Earthen Manure Storage Design Considerations

Field Guide to On-Farm Composting

Environmental Factors to Consider When Expanding Dairies

Managing Risk in Agriculture

Silage and Hay Preservation

Highbush Blueberry Production Guide

Farm Rescue: Responding to Incidents and Emergencies in Agricultural Settings

Planning the Financial/Organizational Structure of Farm and Agribusiness Firms: What Are the Options

CA Storage: Meeting the Market Requirements


Growing Herbs and Vegetables from Seed to Harvest
By Terry and Mark Silber
Alfred Knopf, N.Y., 1999, $35
268 pages, paper

Anyone who is familiar with Mark and Terry Silber’s work knows that whatever they do, they do superbly. Their Hedgehog Hill Farm in Sumner, Maine, produces works of art from dried flowers and other plant material, as seen at their popular booth at the Common Ground Country Fair. Mark’s exquisite photos depicting life in Sumner were published in Sumner 200. Both have published books about everlastings, farm life, and more. Now they have added a thorough and useful book on herb and vegetable gardening and farming to their list of accomplishments.

The book includes seven chapters: Getting Started; Seeding Indoors, Growing On; In the Garden; Vegetables; Herbs; and Saving Seeds. It concludes with a bibliography and index.

The information presented is basic but thorough, and even experienced growers will pick up new ideas. The first few chapters tell, for instance, where to buy seeds (the local hardware store versus mail-order), how to germinate them, how to care for seedlings, how to transplant, how to prepare soil, and so on. A section on season extenders had this tip: To protect tender crops from early frosts, the Silbers cover them with used, dark landscape fabric, “not unlike white row covers in texture and weight.” Fitted snugly around tender plants in the middle of the day, the covers warm the air beneath them. “We have brought many frost-sensitive vegetables and herbs through below-freezing nights unharmed.” The covers are removed on sunny days and replaced as required. Likewise, a list of herbs that can be seeded outdoors in October is valuable. Excellent photos depict many of the Silbers’ suggestions.

The chapters on vegetables and herbs go through these crops alphabetically, describing the culture of each. Again, the reader stands to learn more than the standard fare: Did you know that asparagus seed can be sown outdoors not only in the spring, but also in late fall? Numerous interesting sidebars throughout the book add to its interest, such as one on moth-repelling herbs and another on the futility of using bug zappers.

The final chapter on saving seeds is as well written as the rest of the book and is sure to encourage many growers to get involved in this important practice. Again, excellent photos take the mystique away from this art and give the reader confidence.

Mark and Terry’s personal experiences, related throughout Growing Herbs and Vegetables, lend credence to all they say and helps hold the reader’s interest. The Silbers have done it again!

– Jean English


One Book – 10,000 Plants

A new book covering 10,000 of the world’s economically important plants greatly expands upon an out-of-date, out-of-print reference long popular with botanists, other scientists, teachers and others. The new 784-page volume is World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference. It stems from Agricultural Handbook 505, published in 1977 and revised in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It provides information required by scientists and others who study, identify or classify crop plants, weeds, poisonous plants and other plants of economic importance, including those with medicinal and industrial potential. It includes accepted scientific names, important synonyms and common names, as well as economic uses and geographical distribution.

The new information reflects more than two decades of research by ARS plant taxonomists. The project arose from the need for consistent as well as accurate data in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) databases used by researchers and others around the globe. The new data are being added to GRIN databases on a World Wide Website of ARS National Plant Germplasm System: The book’s authors are taxonomists John W. Wiersema and Blanca Leon of ARS Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. The book, priced at $[205.95], is available from CRC Press. More details can be found at a CRC web site:

Source: Agricultural Research Service press release. Scientific contactJohn W. Wiersema, ARS Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 5049181, fax 5045810,


New Logsdon Books Available

Gene Logsdon’s two newest books are Good Spirits: Another Look at that Ol’ Demon, Alcohol, $21 ppd., and Wildlife in the Gardens, $13 ppd. The first attacks the social hypocrisy surrounding the subject of drinking alcohol and discusses the important role alcohol has played in human history. Directions from Logsdon’s moonshining father-in-law are included. “It is illegal to make whisky at home but it is not illegal to read this book,” says Logsdon. The second tells how Logsdon has tried to strike a proper middle ground in raising crops while holding a ‘live and let live’ philosophy. This is an update of his 16-year-old book, with Logsdon adding new information “and correcting some obvious errors.” These two books, as well as You Can Go Home Again, ($21), The Contrary Farmer, ($14), and The Contrary Farmer’s Invitation to Gardening, ($14), are available from Andy Reinhart, 3624 T.R. 136, Bellefontaine OH 43311. Reinhart passes all profits on to the author.


Monday to Friday Chicken

By Michelle Urvater 288 pp., Workman Publishing, 1998
$12.95 postpaid from Outrider Books, Box 277, Shoshone, ID 83352-0277

What is America’s favorite cut of meat? Hamburgers aside, the skinless, boneless chicken breast has a clear advantage in the home kitchen with its versatility, ease of preparation and low fat content. Its use is limited only by the creativity of the cook.

That’s where Michelle Urvater’s latest cookbook fills in, offering not just dozens of innovative ways to serve poultry as an entree, but 180 ways to make chicken part of a complete meal. Each recipe includes recommendations for at least one side dish – Pimiento Comfort Chicken spooned over biscuits or cornbread with a tangy fruit dessert, for example, or Chinese Chicken Casserole followed by a fruit sorbet.

Third in a series of “Monday-to-Friday” cookbooks, this one specializes in poultry dishes for weeknight meals. Like the others, most of its recipes can be completed in 30 minutes or less. Urvater offers detailed advice on meal planning and stocking a pantry to accommodate quick meals.

Recipes are grouped under Chicken Soups and Stews (Asian Salad Chicken Soup), Dinner Salads (Chinese Chicken Salad), Sandwich Suppers (Tex-Mex Chicken Burritos), In the Skillet and On the Grill (Salsa Chicken with Pasta) and No-Tend Oven Cooking (Feta-Stuffed Chicken).

Best for soccer moms and cooking daddies, these recipes meet the needs of young families with busy lifestyles.

Michael Hofferber manages Farmer’s Market Online, a website where producers sell their produce, speciality foods, crafts, books, livestock and farm supplies directly to consumers. The market is located at Subscriptions to an email newsletter version of the market are available free on request to


Better Basics for the Home
By Annie Berthold-Bond
Three Rivers Press, 1999
340 pages, paperback; $18

Better Basics

Recipes for flea and moth repellents, homemade play dough and bubble stuff, bathtub cleaner and more are here and there – on my desk, in my recipe box, in cookbooks … How many times I’ve thought to myself, “You should organize them into one neat book!” Now I don’t have to: Annie Berthold-Bond has done it for me, and done it far better than I would have.

Annie, also the author of Clean and Green and The Green Kitchen Handbook, comes from frugal, northern New England roots, and that’s where she developed her appreciation for safe, inexpensive, effective recipes for everything from toothpaste and tooth brightener to a lemon oil dusting preparation. When she became chemically sensitive, she organized the information she had learned with that she had collected from nineteenth-century formula books and elsewhere. She wrote this superb book and started her own website ( as well.

The first two chapters of the book introduce the why and how of basic formulas, including sources of supplies, a glossary of ingredients (where you can find out what whiting is, and the difference between baking soda and washing soda, for example), testing, a guide to commercial products, and more.

The next five chapters give recipes for housekeeping preparations; skin care; whole body care; gardening, pets and pest control; and house care and hobbies. These are followed by a list of sources and resources and an excellent index.

In the housekeeping chapter, you learn one of the simplest recipes: club soda. Period. Just put it in a spray bottle and use it to clean anything. “It couldn’t be easier, and it really does work, because club soda is full of alkaline minerals,” says Annie. In a box below the club soda entry, you learn why club soda is preferable to many commercial, all-purpose cleaners: The latter may contain butyl cellusolve, a neurotoxic solvent, as well as ammonia or bleach, which should be avoided.

Does your oven look like mine? You need baking soda, says Annie. Sprinkle the bottom of the oven with baking soda, spray water from a spray bottle onto it, and let it sit overnight. By morning, you’ll be able to scoop out the loosened grime.

In the section on tooth care, you’ll learn that branches of dogwood, birch, willow, poplar, butternut, sassafras and red sumac (not the toxic sumac with the white berries) have antimicrobial properties and make good “twig toothbrushes.” You’ll learn how to make a mouthwash with or without alcohol, and how to treat periodontal disease with herbs. Better Basics for the Home probably is the most practical (868 practical formulas, in fact) book I’ve seen in years. The review copy is not leaving my house, and I’m ordering several copies for Christmas presents. Ask your local bookseller, food coop and library to stock it, and you’ll never have to walk down that nasty aisle in the supermarket again.

– Jean English


Adrian Bloom’s Year-Round Garden
By Adrian Bloom
288 pages
Timber Press, 1998, $32.95 ppd from Outrider Books, Box 277, Shoshone, ID 83352-0277

Early February is the true test of gardens in the Northern Hemisphere. The days are still too short to encourage new growth, and the sad remains of autumn still linger on many vines. Grey skies cast a pale light across many a sullen landscape.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Late winter’s gardens need not be dull and devoid of color: Certain trees and shrubs, sedges and perennials can make a colorful canvas out of what was once a black-and-white line drawing.

“Plants are wonderful material for artistic use,” writes Adrian Bloom in his gardening omnibus, Adrian Bloom’s Year-Round Garden. “They flow and ebb with the seasons, becoming a living, expanding canvas.”

The smaller the garden, the more important the selection of plants if you want color throughout the year, Bloom advises. His book includes directories of trees, shrubs, conifers, ferns and grasses that will add color and interest to a winter garden.

Demonstrating the possibilities, Bloom takes readers on a text-and-photos tour of his 6-acre private garden in Norfolk, England, and other gardens designed by commission. See how the scarlet twigs of Sibirica contrast with the green grass and the dark background of conifers. Note how the right plantings of shrubs, dwarf conifers and heathers create visual interest. Notice how the form and texture of select grasses and perennials holds up throughout the winter.

Not just a cold weather friend, Bloom’s Year-Round Garden offers 12 months of inspiration and guidance with more than 400 photographs and a directory of plants for late spring and summer to match the one for winter.

Some Plants Recommended by Bloom for the Winter Garden


Hawthorn (zones 3-7) has thorny branches and a show of white flowers in late spring. Its abundant, persistent crimson fruits are attractive in autumn, and its shiny, dark green leaves turn yellow and red in autumn.

Mountain ash (zones 4-9) has pinnate leaves that turn tints of orange-red and yellow in autumn. The white, early summer flowers often are followed quickly by heavy bunches of orange am red fruits.


‘Brilliant’ chokecherry (zones 4-9) has red leaves and black fruits in autumn.

Cinquefoil (zones 3-8) is among the most adaptable of hardy shrubs, often flowering for a very long period. It is good for autumn flowers that come in a wide range of colors.

‘Sibirica Variegata’ dogwood (zones 3-9) has variegated white and green leaves that are tinged with red in autumn. It also has red stems.

‘Sandra’ witch hazel (zones 4-9) has purple young leaves that turn green in summer and rich flame-orange in autumn.


European larch (zones 3-6) bursts into clusters of bright green leaves in spring; these darken through the summer before turning golden in late autumn.

‘Ophifpine (zones 3-9) is nondescript in summer but in winter its green needles gradually turn golden yellow.


‘Autumn Joy’ stonecrop (zones 3-10) has spring growth of glaucous, fleshy stems and leaves that remain attractive all summer. Its glistening pink flower heads widen to 10 inches across and turn a deep bronze, then coppery red.

– Michael Hofferber


MOF&G Cover Winter 1999-2000