Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Enjoy Dandelions!

April 28, 2016

Did you know that you can enjoy a complete meal featuring dandelions? That's what Anita Sanchez wrote in her article "Ten Things You Might Not Know About Dandelions" in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener several years ago. The feast goes "from salad greens to dandelion quiche, followed by dandelion ice cream, washed down with dandelion wine." Or perhaps a cup of dandelion tea. A search of MOFGA-certified organic producers shows that Blessed Maine Herb Farm also makes a dandelion tincture and dandelion vinegar. Praise the dandelions and pass up the Roundup!

Grow Amaranth for Greens and Grain

April 21, 2016

Amaranth is a nutritious, easily grown green that can be grown for grain as well. It can be direct-seeded, although longer-maturing varieties can be started indoors in late April. Read about this multipurpose crop, including intercropping possibilities, in Will Bonsall's article, "Amaranth: An Ancient Food for Modern Gardens," published in the Spring 2015 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Learn to Plant an Apple Tree

April 7, 2016

Regarding MOFGA's Maine Heritage Orchard, here's how volunteer and apple enthusiast Rudy Kelly describes a planting day at the orchard: He "was astonished to see so many volunteers of all ages working so hard, 'specially the younger people, everyone taking time out of their own lives for this project - helping transform this piece of property from an eyesore, a wasteland, into something special and beautiful like an apple orchard, something people can enjoy for hundreds of years. Oh yes, I definitely wanted in on this. These were my kind of people. I encourage everyone who reads this to volunteer a little of their time to help make this special and important project reality. I know I'll be there." Read more, in "One of Many: A Maine Heritage Orchard Volunteer," by Abbey Verrier and Angus Deighan, in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

 

Cultivate Diversity in the Orchard

March 31, 2016

The primary activity we can employ in the orchard to prevent or avoid pest issues is to cultivate diversity in both the plant and animal realms, says C.J. Walke, MOFGA's organic orchardist. Beneficial insects themselves need food sources and shelter, and we can grow or encourage various flowering plants (Queen Anne's lace, yarrow, sweet cicely, cilantro) with varying bloom times throughout the season to provide food and shelter. By cultivating plant diversity, we support beneficial pollinators (mason bees/blue orchard bees) and predatory insects (hover flies/sweat bees). We also encourage parasitoid wasps (Ichneumonidae) and parasitic flies (Tachinidae) that lay their eggs inside or on the surface of pests. When eggs hatch, the resulting larvae feed on that pest, while the beneficial adults also feed on numerous larvae themselves. For more about managing pests in the orchard, see C.J.'s article "Orchard Pest Thresholds" in the spring 2016 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

A Better Bokashi Bucket

March 24, 2016

Adam Tomash, a MOFGA member and gardener extraordinaire, has come up with an improved design for making a bokashi bucket. Bokashi is the Japanese word for "fermented organic matter" and is a way to compost. Commercial bokashi buckets are somewhat pricey, and the lids are difficult to remove and replace and are prone to breakage. Read about what Adam did with two sheetrock buckets, a Gamma Seal lid, a spigot and a drill in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Grow Figs in Maine

March 10, 2016

Did you know that you can grow figs in Maine if you offer them some protection over winter? Bill and Lauren Errickson used a USDA SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant to study growing four varieties of figs in a high tunnel, with a winter wrapping of row cover around half the plants for added protection. Read about their results in the spring 2016 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Save Seeds of Over- wintering (and Other) Crops

March 3, 2016

Saving your own seeds can save you money while supporting biodiversity. When you let overwintered greens flower to produce seed, those flowers may be an early-season food source for pollinators and other beneficial organisms. Saving seeds can also enable you to select for plants that are better adapted to your farm or garden, ensure that you have the variety you want in case seed companies drop that variety, build populations of organically grown seed ... and maybe even start a seed-selling business. Dan Brisebois of Tourne-Sol Co-operative farm in Quebec spoke about saving seed at MOFGA's 2014 Farmer to Farmer Conference. Read more about the presentation in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

More Evidence About the Benefits of Organic and its Ability to Feed the World

February 25, 2016

A new study led by a Newcastle University researcher shows that both organic milk and meat contain about 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products and have higher concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants. And Washington State University researchers have concluded that feeding a growing global population with sustainability goals in mind is possible. Their review of hundreds of published studies provides evidence that organic farming can produce sufficient yields, be profitable for farmers, protect and improve the environment and be safer for farm workers. Read more at the Newcastle University website and the website of Washington State University. And please support your local organic producers, who make these benefits possible!

Start Onions Now

February 25, 2016

You can grow onions from sets (small onion bulbs that you plant directly in your garden in spring, once the soil is ready), but for a greater selection of varieties and to produce some really big onions, try growing your own by sowing seeds indoors soon. Vermont garden writer John Fuchs says, "One year I decided to start my own onion seeds under grow lights on the first of March. On April 15, I transplanted these healthy green plants to the garden, and I harvested my biggest onions ever the first week of August." Read more about his onion cultivation in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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