Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Growing Garlic the Easy Way

December 1, 2018

By Jonathan Mitschele

I grow German White garlic, lots of it, and in 2018 I had the best crop ever, so I thought I would share what I learned. First, plant certified nematode-free hardneck garlic. Second, plant in wide beds; they use garden space much more efficiently than does planting in single rows. I use 4-foot-wide beds, but 3-foot-wide beds are easier to step over, so narrower may be more convenient for you.

 

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Floating Row Covers Foil Potato Pests

December 1, 2018

By Jonathan Mitschele

In late July 2017 I discovered that my potato plants were not doing well. Leaves were yellowing and the plants were not growing as expected. Suspecting some sort of blight, I sent photos to Eric Sideman at MOFGA. He thought the problem was potato leafhoppers and referred me to a MOFGA pest report.

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Benefits of Solarizing and Tarping

December 1, 2018

Solarization with clear plastic and tarping with black plastic help with weed management in high-value horticultural crops that otherwise need extensive hand weeding. Solarization tends to be more effective under suitably warm and sunny conditions, although tarping may be more suitable for some applications. With either practice, the plastic may be removed before planting, allowing for reuse, or left in place with holes cut through it to allow for transplanting.

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Give Seedy Gifts

November 30, 2018

Seeds make great holiday gifts. Whether you saved seeds of a favorite variety from your garden or are ordering from a local seed company, consider giving organically grown seeds as gifts this holiday season. Put larger seeds in a pretty gift bag (which might be used later to keep tarnished plant bugs off your dahlias); put large or small seeds in decorated jelly jars.

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Giving Thanks for Local, Organic Producers

November 15, 2018

Many of us grow our own gardens and have plenty to feast on come Thanksgiving and through the winter. Now and then, however, potato leafhoppers or drought or heavy rains reduce our yields. We are so lucky to have so many local, organic producers to fill the gaps in our own production, and to introduce us to new and varied foods. So thank you, growers. To find winter farmers’ markets where you can stock up on ingredients you didn’t raise yourself, please visit the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets.  And to see where MOFGA-certified organic producers sell their goods, please visit our certification website.

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Consider a Crabapple

November 8, 2018

When is an apple really a crabapple? Generally a crabapple is any Malus species with fruit under 2 inches in diameter, explains Roberta Bailey in her article, "Grow Your Own Crabapples." Now that the leaves have fallen, crabapple fruits that remained on some trees are readily apparent – and some varieties hold their fruits into winter, when birds enjoy them. Some varieties are good for cider or jelly. If you don't have these trees in your landscape, plan now to plant one (or two – they need a pollinator, but that could be any apple or crabapple tree that blooms at the same time) in spring. Fedco has some tempting offerings.

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Connecting with Fungi

October 25, 2018

Are abundant edible mushrooms popping up at your local farmers' market or perhaps even in your own fields and woods? Roberta Bailey writes about mycorrhizal relationships between plants and fungi and about the growing awareness "of the interconnected microbiome that surrounds us and thrives within us – at the same time that we strive to thrive within all of that biome." Read about her thoughts and try the recipes from her article "Connecting with Fungi" in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Clean Beans

October 4, 2018

How do you harvest and clean dry beans? In his article "Dry Beans – A Staple Crop Worth Growing," Will Bonsall says that he piles dead plants of mature bush beans on a tarp for threshing and then, using a flail, "I wale away at the pile until all the pods have shattered and the beans are in a dense heap at the bottom … For smaller crops I may just strip off the pods." He scoops up the resulting beans and pours them between two buckets in a gentle breeze to winnow them. "With pole beans I pick dry pods off the vines … I either dump the beans into a large galvanized washtub to trounce with my feet or I stuff them into a burlap bag and beat them with a flail or just a stick."

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