Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Try Common Ground Recipes at Home

September 24, 2020

In her column “Kids in the Kitchen” in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Roberta Bailey writes about past Common Ground Country Fair times with her kids. “When they were young, for a few years we did a Country Kitchen demo together called Kids in the Kitchen. We made bumps on a log and scrambled eggs and tiger candy – sweetened peanut butter balls with dried fruit and coconut, all rolled in carob powder. When they were a bit older, we had a booth in the farmers’ market called the Kids and Moms booth. We shared it with another mom and their two friends. The moms sold fiber art and the kids sold gourds, clothespin dolls, corn necklaces, cutting boards and a score of odd inspirations.” Bailey shares recipes from that time in her column. Enjoy!

The Almost-Last Garden Hurrah of the Season

September 3, 2020

We're down to about 13 hours of daylight. Beans and greens, blueberries and raspberries pack the freezer. The garden bursts with late-summer abundance – for us human consumers and for lots of other beings. Hummingbirds lick the nectar from scarlet runner bean flowers before the birds' long flight south later this month, while bumblebees and honeybees gather pollen from sunflowers that support the runner beans. It's a jungle out there – one to appreciate as the equinox approaches; one to evaluate for next year's even better garden. Enjoy!

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Time for Zucchini Patties

August 6, 2020

Here's one way to enjoy some of summer's abundant zucchini. Mix 4 or so cups of grated zucchini and one chopped onion with three eggs. Add 1/2 to 1 cup grated Parmesan, 2 cups seasoned panko bread crumbs and a couple of squirts of barbecue sauce. Let the mixture sit for half an hour. Form the mixture into patties and fry in butter or oil. Serve with fresh corn on the cob and a salad and/or potato salad. Freeze any leftover patties for winter, when you'll think fondly of summer zucchini.

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Growing Cannabis at Home

July 9, 2020

Legislation passed in 2016 and amended in 2018 allows Maine adults to grow up to three flowering cannabis plants per adult in the household for personal use on their land. In his article “Why Grow Cannabis at Home,” John Jemison of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension writes about why he grows cannabis, how cannabinoids affect the body, and how to grow the plant in your own garden. “Cannabis is easy to grow (it is called weed), but like potatoes, it is hard to grow well,” he says. Read more in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Cranberries – Don't Assume You Can't Grow Them

June 25, 2020

Most folks think of cranberries as a crop with requirements that are too challenging for their situation. Cranberries like sandy, acidic, soggy peat soils that can be flooded at will, whereas the average gardener has (or aspires to have) a well-drained, marl, near-neutral soil with sufficient nitrogen-containing humus. Will Bonsall found, however, that the crop is not quite that picky. The summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener relates his experiences with growing this plant in a low spot in the landscape.

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Beautiful and Useful Calendula

June 18, 2020

There are so many reasons to plant a big bed of calendula, Calendula officinalis. It blooms until frost for cut flowers and medicine, it isn’t fussy about where it’s planted, pollinators like it, it can be added as a garnish to food, and its seed is easy to save for next year’s planting. Read Joyce White’s article “Calendula – Beautiful and Useful” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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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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