Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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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Growing Saffron in the Northeast

April 23, 2020

Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is the dried stigmas of flowers of the fall-blooming saffron crocus, Crocus sativus (not of the autumn crocus, Colchicum autumnale, which is toxic). Research from the University of Vermont tells how to grow this spice in crates or in raised beds in New England. Read about the fascinating and entertaining talk that Dr. Arash Ghalehgolabbehbahani and Dr. Margaret Skinner gave at MOFGA’s 2019 Farmer to Farmer Conference in “Saffron: A Good Fit for New England” in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Growing Grains Creates Diversity on Homestead

April 16, 2020

On its homestead in Exeter, Maine, the Ludders family raises not only vegetables but also wheat, oats, pigs and poultry. This diversity has led to a more sustainable and closed system, writes Sonja Heyck-Merlin. “The chaff provides bedding for their laying hens, and the straw provides mulch for their garlic and perennials. The grain also provides an expanded rotation for the pigs and vegetables. While he has found success in growing about 300 to 350 pounds of grain each year, Ross [Ludders] says [about growing grains], ‘Don't just think about what it is doing for your kitchen but your whole homestead system.’” Read more in “Growing Grain on the Ludders Family Homestead” in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Planting for Pollinators

April 9, 2020

Interested in supporting pollinators through planting? Perhaps the work of Barbara Murphy, development director at Mahoosuc Land Trust in Bethel, and several volunteers will inspire you. Joyce White describes how Murphy and her crew created a 10,000-square-foot pollinator garden on the grounds of the Valentine Farm, home of Mahoosuc Land Trust. “People, Plants and Pollinators Populate Mahoosuc Land Trust Garden” appears in the spring 2020 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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