Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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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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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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Plan a Butterfly Garden

September 14, 2017

Hooray for unsprayed gardens with plenty of flowers for butterflies! Those who cultivate such habitats may be rewarded now with gold-dotted chrysalises of monarch butterflies, such as the one pictured here on a milkweed butterfly plant (Asclepias tuberosa). Find out how to attract butterflies to your yard in UMaine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #7151, Landscaping for Butterflies in Maine, by Nancy Coverstone, Jim Dill and Lois Berg Stack.

Growing Medicinal Herbs

March 16, 2017

Have you always wanted to make your own herbal salve? Do you value plantain as a medicinal rather than a lawn weed to be killed with a toxic, polluting herbicide? Read about Wendy Green’s herb gardens and herbal preparations in Joyce White’s article "Growing a Good Life" in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Grow Your Own Indigo for Dyeing

December 29, 2016

What could be more home-grown than dyeing a natural fiber from a Maine farm with indigo that you grow yourself? Japanese indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) is an annual that is easy to grow in Maine gardens and that imparts a beautiful blue-violet color to wool and other fibers and fabrics. Several years ago MOFGA member Cynthia Thayer demonstrated dyeing with indigo at the Common Ground Country Fair. Read about her process in "Dyeing with Indigo" in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Seeds of Polygonum tinctorium are available from Fedco.

Dig Your Rosemary

October 15, 2015

Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis – is a perennial in its native Mediterranean home but may be killed by temperatures below about 20 F, so it needs to be potted and brought indoors over winter in Maine. Give this plant a well-drained, neutral soil, keep it in the sun, and water it a little less often than you water your other houseplants – but don't let the soil dry out completely. You might try overwintering rosemary in a protected structure outdoors, also. See "Overwintering Tender Herbs" for some ideas. Use rosemary in herbal vinegars or honey, or to flavor meat or vegetable dishes. It's wonderful with roasted root vegetables.

Minimizing Infection by Basil Downy Mildew

June 4, 2015

In his first pest report for the season, MOFGA's Eric Sideman covers basil downy mildew, which can begin as a pale yellow color on the tops of leaves and may eventually kill plants. Sideman discusses resistant types of basil but says the common sweet basil is most susceptible. To help minimize problems, "anything that will make the leaves dry quickly will help, e.g., weed control, good spacing, venting tunnels, watering in the morning instead of the evening, etc. I make new plantings every 3-4 weeks in hopes that if the spores come in and infect one planting I can destroy it so it does not release spores, and I have another planting waiting in the wings." Learn more by reading the pest report.