Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Mushroom Mainea

February 6, 2020

“In Maine,” writes Roberta Bailey, “mushroom cultivation is spreading like its mycorrhizae. Farmers inoculate piles of shredded wood or straw with mushroom cultures. Shiitakes sprout from plug-filled logs. People grow bags of them on counter tops. Wild foraging proves bounteous in the Maine woods.” Even now, in the depth of winter, consumers can find organically grown or wild harvested mushrooms at farmers’ markets. Bailey offers several mushroom-based recipes in her Harvest Kitchen column, “Mushrooms: The King of Umami, and More,” in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Has John Found Sarah?

January 30, 2020

John Bunker read about the Maine apple variety called Sarah long ago. “Sarah had remained on the back burner of my apple search since I first read about her many years ago,” he writes in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. “But with the hiring of MOFGA’s new executive director in 2018, Sarah – the apple – leapt into first place in the apple priority list of what I must find.” Did he find her? Read about Bunker’s Sarah-seeking adventures here.

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Why Organic

January 16, 2020

One of the main reasons growers use organic practices (and consumers buy organic products) is to avoid exposure to hundreds of synthetic pesticides that are not allowed in organic production. This benefit was reinforced during two presentations at the 2019 Common Ground Country Fair: Carey Gillam’s keynote speech, “Decades of Deceit – A Critical Eye on Pesticides, Science and Industry,” and the Public Policy Teach-In, “Pesticides: In the News and All Around Us.” Coverage of each is posted in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Gardens Where Birds and Bees Thrive

January 9, 2020

In her article “Of Birds, Bees and Berries” in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Joyce White writes about hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis, a perennial, shrubby, aromatic plant with the square stems characteristic of the mint family. White says, “I had never seen so many bees at work in any one area” when she visited a friend’s garden that was populated with hyssop and other bee-friendly flowers. Read about plants and bees and about birds carrying ripe strawberries and blueberries to their young in White’s article.

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Planning for Crop Rotations

January 2, 2020

Here’s one of Will Bonsall’s favorite crop rotations: In very early spring seed an area to oats for a green manure/living mulch to precede/accompany a crop of squash or pumpkins. A week or two before transplanting the hills of squash, chop in the ankle-high oats only where the hills will go. Let the rest of the oats keep growing. In early July flatten the knee-high oats by flopping down a half-sheet of plywood and treading on it. Then cover the oat thatch with a mulch of old leaves and then enough spoiled hay to keep the leaves from blowing. The following year, transplant cabbage to the mulched area. Read more in “Crop Rotation in the Garden” in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Longer Days Are Coming

December 19, 2019

With the solstice approaching on Saturday, we gardeners look forward to longer days and stronger light. Some plants, however, keep our spirits up by flowering now. Christmas cactus is an example of plants that are triggered to bloom when nights are long. Before you know it, we’ll be back to short nights and long harvests. And on and on the cycles go. Happy Solstice!

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Bayberry Seeds Are Ready to Stratify

December 12, 2019

Northern bayberry is an attractive native shrub that stands out in late fall because of its waxy, pewter colored fruits. According to UMaine Cooperative Extension, many bird species eat these fruits, “including songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and marsh birds. They are a preferred food of chickadees, red-bellied woodpeckers, tree swallows, catbirds, bluebirds, yellow-rumped warblers, and others.

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Browntail Moth Management

December 2019

Late winter is the time to clip browntail moth (BTM) caterpillar webs from trees that are accessible. Hairs of these caterpillars can cause a rash like poison ivy as well as respiratory problems, and the pest is spreading, especially along coastal Maine.

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