Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Ready to Ferment?

October 27, 2016

Your vegetables, that is … Fermentation has become increasingly popular as a way to preserve garden produce. In the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Roberta Bailey wrote about fermentation and supplied a few recipes from the book "Fermented Vegetables," including one for carrot kraut that would be great now as you bring in those sweet fall carrots.


Fall Orchard Care Can Reduce Disease Pressure

October 20, 2016

Fall cleanup can help control fungal diseases in orchards. For example, apple scab overwinters on infected leaf and fruit tissue, so remove all fruit, especially mummies, from trees, and augment leaf decomposition by mowing and spreading compost and/or applying fish hydrolysate to encourage microbial activity on the orchard floor. MOFGA's organic orchardist, C.J. Walke, offers these and other tips in his article "Fall Reminders and Income from a Diverse Young Orchard" in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Storing Saved Seeds

October 13, 2016

If your garden hasn't been hit by frost yet, many garden seeds can still be collected now and stored for planting in spring. Echinacea seeds are drying on their seed heads – at least those that the goldfinches aren't eating. Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers are long and red; it's time to eat the flesh and save the scraped-away seeds. Chateau Rose tomato seeds are ripe for the taking (i.e., for the fermenting). For some basics on seed saving and storing, see “Storing Saved Seeds” in the winter 2016 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener (MOF&G). For more detailed information, see “Seed Saving on the Farm” by Roberta Bailey in the summer 2012 MOF&G.


Planting in Clusters or Hills

October 6, 2016

Is your 2016 garden fading? Cover crops growing? Are you thinking about next year’s garden yet? If so, you might want to think about planting some crops in clusters or hills rather than spaced evenly in rows, as Will Bonsall describes in his article "Cluster or Hill Planting" in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. His method simplifies and speeds planting and weed control.


Plant Species Roses for Edible Rose Hips

September 22, 2016

Three rose species that are hardy in much of Maine, Rosa rugosa (rugosa rose, beach rose or saltspray rose), R. glauca (redleaf rose) and R. pomifera (apple rose), have large rose hips (fruits) that are edible and high in vitamin C. Grown on their own rootstocks, these shrub roses are easy garden plants: They don't need to be trellised; they can grow without pruning (but can be pruned to control growth); and they don't need to be treated for pests. The rugosa and redleaf roses are hardy to zone 2, have fragrant flowers, and the rugosas are even salt-tolerant. Redleaf rose has handsome blue-green foliage and fewer thorns than most roses. The apple rose is hardy to zone 5 and has fragrant flowers. Rose hips can be collected after they turn red and then be made into jams, jellies, teas, syrup or wine and can be dried or used fresh. To dry hips for tea, cut them in half (wearing gloves to protect your hands from the tiny thorns), scoop out the seeds, and dry the fruit pieces in a single layer on a screen, then store them in an airtight container.


Think Spring (Bulbs)!

September 8, 2016

Spring-flowering bulbs are among the earliest spring food sources for bees, and they're wonderful for awakening our own senses in the spring. Plan and plant this fall for "the color-rich buoys of hope in a sea of mud and sloppy snow squalls," as Roberta Bailey says in her "Fall Bulb Primer" in the fall 2013 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Shade Trees Add Cool Values

September 1, 2016

Remember those sweltering days of last July? Beedy Parker, a MOFGA member, recalled on one of those days an article she had written for the Camden Herald in 1989 encouraging people to plant trees to cool and cleanse the air.


Freezing Grilled Pepper Strips

September 1, 2016

When I harvest peppers in the fall, I roast some on my outside grill, seed them while they're still warm, and put the slippery product into a big bowl in the refrigerator to freeze the next day. I use a vacuum bag sealer, and I was wondering how I was going to get these slimy things into the bag. Using a food-grade plastic cutting mat that was a little narrower and about 2 inches longer than the bag, I cut a section of the mat to fit into the bag an inch or so. Then I piled peppers on the exposed length of the mat. I slid the peppers and mat into the bag, coaxing wayward pieces and then tipping the mat upright and pulling it out. This made a messy job a breeze.

– Adam Tomash