Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

Publications \ Organic Gardening Tips

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.


Growing Grains Creates Diversity on Homestead

April 16, 2020

On its homestead in Exeter, Maine, the Ludders family raises not only vegetables but also wheat, oats, pigs and poultry. This diversity has led to a more sustainable and closed system, writes Sonja Heyck-Merlin. “The chaff provides bedding for their laying hens, and the straw provides mulch for their garlic and perennials. The grain also provides an expanded rotation for the pigs and vegetables. While he has found success in growing about 300 to 350 pounds of grain each year, Ross [Ludders] says [about growing grains], ‘Don't just think about what it is doing for your kitchen but your whole homestead system.’” Read more in “Growing Grain on the Ludders Family Homestead” in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Time to Think Storage

September 28, 2017

Despite the drought in many parts of Maine, gardens produced at least some crops abundantly, especially if gardeners were able to water. Pumpkins, squashes, potatoes, onions, carrots and more are ready or almost ready to be stored for winter. Read about storage techniques in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, including Anneli Carter-Sundqvist's "How we store our year-round supply of produce," Cheryl Wixson's "Root Cellars: Safe and Secure from the Corporate Food Train," "A Dozen Storage Crops for Homegrown Food Security" and Adam Tomash's "Using a Bulkhead as a Root Cellar." For crops that did not do well in your garden this year, local farmers' markets and Community Supported Agriculture farms offer great options for affordable organic goods.


Harness Compost to Heat Water

August 17, 2017

Dennis Carter and Anneli Carter-Sundqvist needed an ample supply of hot water for summer guests at their Deer Isle Hostel. Inspired by Paul Wheaton's video, "500 Showers Heated from One Small Compost Pile," Dennis built an 8-foot-wide by 5-foot-tall compost pile with 200 feet of half-inch diameter poly pipe coiled inside. The pile heated the water in the pipe, and the water was transported through a hose to an outdoor watering-can shower. Read the details in Carter's article, "Compost-Heated Outdoor Shower," in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Harness Hot Attic Air to Dry Fruit

August 3, 2017

Houses have an enormous supply of hot, dry air in the attic whenever the sun shines in the summer. Read how Eric Evans made a drying cabinet in an upstairs room to hold cooling racks and arranged a 4-inch duct and a small fan to suck air from the attic and blow it down through the cabinet full of sliced peaches. See "Low-Energy Food-Storage Solutions" in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Good Year for a Rain Garden!

June 1, 2017

This long, cool, wet spring has frustrated many farmers and gardeners, but it's been great for rain gardens. A rain garden is a depression in the landscape that is planted with perennials and shrubs that tolerate high moisture levels. Such gardens help intercept water, minimizing runoff. They can also be great for pollinators and other beneficials, especially when planted with native species. To learn more, see "Adding a Rain Garden to Your Landscape" by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.


Simple Gifts of Kindness

May 4, 2017

In her "Simple Gifts of Kindness" article in the spring 2017 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Roberta Bailey says, "These days 'kindness' is the word that I hold in the foreground of my mind … It reminds me of the goodness in humanity and the heart-opening power that a simple gesture can hold." Among those simple gestures are the recipes she offers for simple gifts – including Onion and Cilantro Chutney (a good way to use up those storage onions before they sprout), Jammy Tortes (dig into those raspberries in the freezer) and Rhubarb Juice (and rhubarb is coming up now). Spring is such a wonderful time to savor the transitioning bounty of Maine-grown organic foods!


Remember to Remove Vole Guards

April 20, 2017

If you haven't done so already, remember to remove vole guards from orchard trees asap – and then keep an eye on tree trunks for signs of borers. For other spring orchard-care tips, see C.J. Walke's article "In the Orchard – A Calendar to Guide Apple Tree Care" in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. And remember, too, Walke's advice that "the best orchard activity is the frequent observation of tree and fruit growth, combined with an awareness of life in your orchard ecosystem."