Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Greens That Overwinter

November 24, 2017

Looking for veggies that will overwinter in the garden with little protection? Roberta Bailey listed several in her MOF&G article, "Winter Greens Fill the Garden Palette" – "varieties that are very resilient and cold hardy and some that eat snow for breakfast." She includes 'Kolibri' kohlrabi, which frequently overwinters with nothing more than snow cover; 'North Pole', 'Hyper Red Rumpled', 'Dark Red Lolla Rossa' and 'Brun d'Hiver' lettuce, which survive with nothing more than row cover; and many more. Keep Roberta's list handy when you order seeds for your next garden.

 

Beautiful and Useful Calendula

June 18, 2020

There are so many reasons to plant a big bed of calendula, Calendula officinalis. It blooms until frost for cut flowers and medicine, it isn’t fussy about where it’s planted, pollinators like it, it can be added as a garnish to food, and its seed is easy to save for next year’s planting. Read Joyce White’s article “Calendula – Beautiful and Useful” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Time for Rhubarb Shortcake

June 3, 2020

In the May-June 1975 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Spoons & Spiders columnist Barbara Mather wrote, “There are some things that neither Mort nor I cared for until we grew our own and ate them as they should be eaten, rather when they should be eaten – picked when ripe and eaten fresh. Rhubarb is one of those things. Now we look forward to the treat of Rhubarb Shortcake – hot, stewed rhubarb heaped between and on top of a big biscuit, and generously topped off by a mound of whipped cream.” By the way, the “spiders” in Mather’s long-running column reflect, she said, her “abiding faith in and devotion to cast-iron pans, which were called spiders years ago. Teflon II, Miracle Maid, PAM – Bah, Humbug! – I wouldn’t trade my cast-iron pans for anything!”

Tea-Time Tip

June 1, 2020

Amid the harvest of tomatoes, green beans, broccoli and other veggies this summer, take some time to harvest the makings for tea. An hour or two spent harvesting the leaves of raspberry, mint and other plants, then drying them, can save several dollars in herbal tea bills throughout the year, can provide a good haul for gift giving, and can produce a healthful beverage.

Broccolini: What’s in a Name?

June 1, 2020

By Jonathan Mitschele

Last April I bought a peat tray of six seedlings labeled “sprouting broccoli” because no ordinary broccoli was available, and I transplanted the seedlings into my garden. I also had a packet of Piracicaba “non-heading broccoli” seed that I had bought a year or three earlier but had never grown successfully. Why not give it a try, too, I thought, and I started a six-pack of Piracicaba. Which brings us to the question: Just what was it that I grew?

Lath for Weed and Moisture Control

June 1, 2020

By Jonathan Mitschele

The older plaster walls in my 1850s farmhouse were made by spreading wet plaster on a framework of thin wood strips, or laths. I don’t know what folks shopping at Home Depot or the like buy lath for today, but I have hit on a way of putting it to good use in the garden.

Mulch Apple Trees with Wood Chips

May 21, 2020

John Bunker says that he chips all prunings and branches from his newly cut firewood and spreads them around the base of apple trees as mulch. “I’m fooling the trees into thinking they’re in the woods,” he writes, adding, “Can you really fool a tree into anything?” Trees like the forest, Bunker continues, “and the forest floor is not that different from a bed of wood chips. The chips break down and feed those trees.” Read more in “Spring Orchard ‘Work,’ and then, Ice Cream” in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Raise Strawberries Under Low Tunnels

May 14, 2020

At The Berry Patch in Stephentown, N.Y, Dale-Ila Riggs and Don Miles grow everbearing strawberries in low tunnels so that "instead of having to make it or break it in three to four weeks in June, we can have berries in late July or August and into October when nobody else has berries," says Riggs. Bungee cords hold the plastic to the frames. Thanks to low tunnels, the farmers can pick quality berries even after a heavy rain. Read more about these farmers' techniques, presented at MOFGA's 2019 Farmer to Farmer Conference, in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Photo: Strawberries grow in low tunnels covered with clear plastic with ventilation holes. Photo courtesy of The Berry Patch

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Growing the Sweetness of Life

May 7, 2020

"Growing my food is quintessential," writes Roberta Bailey in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. "I hope to always be able to eat vibrant food. You can't buy the fullness of flavor that comes with walking into the backyard and picking the vegetables that will be eaten within the hour. That is the true sweetness of life." Read more of Bailey's moving writing here and enjoy her recipes for asparagus soup, rooty slaw, and nutty hummus.

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Diversity in the Orchard

April 30, 2020

Diversity is one key to balancing orchard ecosystems and farm income. Jesse Stevens of Sy’s Trees in Sweden, Maine, for example, grows more than 100 species and 1,000 varieties in his orchard, including the usual apples and pears, as well as quince, Cornelian cherry, persimmon, honeyberry and more. And at their 5 Star Orchard in Brooklin, Maine, Molly DellaRoman and Tim Skillin grow highbush blueberries, elderberries, raspberries, strawberries and native perennials as well as a 3-acre commercial orchard with 30 to 40 varieties of heritage apples, about 60 peach trees, European and Asian pears, and plums. Read about these farmers’ presentations at MOFGA’s 2019 Farmer to Farmer Conference in “Mixed Orchard Crops” in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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