Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Fiber at the Fair: It’s to Dye For

September 1, 2019

Fiber and natural dye enthusiasts love the fascinating exhibits and interactions in the fiber areas of MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair.

Visit the Wednesday Spinners Tent, Fiber Marketplace, Fleece Tent and Sale, Maine Fiber Farms area, Agricultural Products area, Youth Enterprise Zone and Dye Garden (with Earth Loom) to learn about spinning, dyeing, weaving, raising animals for fiber, raising plants for dyes, and more. Last year the Wednesday Spinners exhibited these mittens made with yarn dyed with weld or dyer’s rocket, Reseda luteola, a common, introduced weed in North America.

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Collect Seeds of Native Plants This Fall

August 30, 2019

One way to support insects and other wildlife is to grow native plants in the landscape (and, of course, not to use pesticides). Many native plants produce seeds in the fall, ready for collecting. Shown here are seeds and seedpods of swamp milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa). Flowers of this plant support numerous bees, butterflies and moths. Foliage supports monarch caterpillars. All of this life supports people’s mental health (and, of course, the pollinators help feed us). English photos.

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Grow Husk Cherries in Containers

August 28, 2019

Husk cherries, also called ground cherries or husk tomatoes, produce sweet, delicious fruits inside papery husks. They’re wonderful to eat but can be difficult to harvest, as the ripe fruits fall all over the ground and under the plants. One solution for home gardeners who grow just a few plants is to raise them in large (3 gallon or so) containers and set the containers at waist-level. The trays in the photo sit atop sawhorses and catch the ripe fruits when they drop, making them easy to scoop up without having to bend over. The potted soil does dry out quickly so needs close attention to watering. English photo

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Find New and Old Varieties in the Exhibition Hall

August 22, 2019

The Exhibition Hall at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair is the place to learn about new and old crop varieties, such as this Sikkim cucumber grown and displayed by Martha Gottlieb of Whitefield at the 2018 Fair. This variety was originally from the Himalayas of the Indian state of Sikkim and of Nepal. You can learn about such crops from vegetable expert CR Lawn, who will give a guided tour of the veggies in the Exhibition Hall on Sunday, September 22, 2019, from 2 to 3 p.m.

Photo: Sikkim cucumbers at the Common Ground Country Fair

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Got a Whatever? Bring it to the Fair.

August 15, 2019

Whether you’ve grown prize-winning tomatoes, an heirloom apple or a vegetable oddity, all such products are welcome (as are prepared foods and arts and crafts) in the Exhibition Hall at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair. The odd summer squash shown here would be ideal for the “whatever” table in the hall. See the Fair page of mofga.org for information about entering products – and about the children’s apple pie contest, the natural dessert contest and the seed swap, also in the Exhibition Hall. Fairgoers flock to these exhibits and events all three days of the Fair – September 20, 21 and 22 this year (always the third weekend after Labor Day).

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Grow Your Own Corn Chowder

August 8, 2019

Ingredients for tasty and nutritious corn chowders are in season now in Maine gardens and farms. Sweet corn, especially if transplanted, may be ready for picking (or picking up at farmers’ markets). You won’t find a better chowder than that made with local, organic corn picked at its height of sweetness. Steam twice as many ears as you want to eat today, and freeze leftover kernels for winter chowders. Likewise, new potatoes and sweet onions are in season. If you don’t raise your own cow for the milk or cream, find those organic ingredients at local farms or co-ops.

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Where There’s a Will, There’s a Garden

August 1, 2019

We all want to garden in a level, deep, well-drained, loamy soil nourished with organic matter. But sometimes you just don’t find those qualities where you live. What to do? In her article “Rock and Roll: Terraces in Ancient Jerusalem” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Deborah Rubin Fields discusses how challenging ancient Jerusalem’s topography and climate were – yet people still farmed and gardened there, by establishing terraces. Read more and be inspired.

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Farm, Garden and Homestead Tours Abound

July 25, 2019

Visiting farms and gardens is a great way to learn about new techniques for your own garden, get landscape design ideas and increase your appreciation for the products Maine farmers raise. This weekend is a biggie, with Open Farm Day on Sunday, July 28. In addition, MOFGA’s Daytripping article lists four places to tour this weekend: The Trotochaud/McDowell Gardens and Everyday Pottery in Belmont on July 27 and 28, and on July 28, Balfour Farm in Pittsfield, Khadighar in Industry and Rabbit Hill Farm in Deer Isle. Find other MOFGA-sponsored tours at http://www.mofga.org/MOFGA-Events.

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Cakes and Fritters Make Great Summer Meals

July 11, 2019

Are your carrots and zukes coming in? Try using them in patty form. “I find that fritters and cakes in a pan are quick, easy additions to a summer meal,” writes Roberta Bailey in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. “When my kids were young, we made flat breads and pan cakes regularly. They would create new versions of a veggie burger or clam cake and help cook them. One sweet summer, when we traded vegetables for crabmeat, we tried over a dozen versions of crab cakes. We ended up agreeing that simpler was better, as it allowed the delicate crab flavor to come through the most.” See Bailey’s recipes for carrot latkes, crab or clam cakes, zucchini burgers and nutty summer cakes.

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