Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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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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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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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.

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Birthday Greetings, Maine!

March 12, 2020

In her State of the State address in January, Gov. Janet Mills noted that after Maine separated from Massachusetts 200 years ago (this March 15), “we, Maine people, learned to be self-reliant and, at the same time, to rely on each other.” She also noted, “We stand here today because of the resilience of Native Americans.” So much history … and much of it lives on in the seeds that continue to grow here – some conserved thanks to Native Americans, some that washed up onto Maine’s shores after shipwrecks, some brought by early settlers even before Maine became a state, some saved by MOFGA members. We love seeing this mix of crops in the Exhibition Hall at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair – part of a living representation of all that history. Grow on, Maine!

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Potatoes Under 7-Foot Row Cover

February 20, 2020

Last summer Jonathan Mitschele of New Gloucester, Maine, planted two rows of potatoes in a 4-foot-wide bed. That allowed him to use 7-foot row cover from planting to bloom, after which he removed it. His 180 row feet of potatoes yielded about 330 pounds, all with little or no scab and no leafhopper or potato beetle damage. Read more in the winter 2019-2020 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Watch for Leek Moth This Growing Season

February 13, 2020

Last September a home gardener contacted the University of Maine Cooperative Extension office in Farmington about crop damage to his alliums. Extension identified the pest as leek moth – a relatively new insect pest in Maine. Leek moth larvae can damage all members of the allium family – especially leeks, but also onions and garlic. Read more in David Fuller’s article “Another Maine Area Affected by Leek Moth” in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Mushroom Mainea

February 6, 2020

“In Maine,” writes Roberta Bailey, “mushroom cultivation is spreading like its mycorrhizae. Farmers inoculate piles of shredded wood or straw with mushroom cultures. Shiitakes sprout from plug-filled logs. People grow bags of them on counter tops. Wild foraging proves bounteous in the Maine woods.” Even now, in the depth of winter, consumers can find organically grown or wild harvested mushrooms at farmers’ markets. Bailey offers several mushroom-based recipes in her Harvest Kitchen column, “Mushrooms: The King of Umami, and More,” in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Has John Found Sarah?

January 30, 2020

John Bunker read about the Maine apple variety called Sarah long ago. “Sarah had remained on the back burner of my apple search since I first read about her many years ago,” he writes in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. “But with the hiring of MOFGA’s new executive director in 2018, Sarah – the apple – leapt into first place in the apple priority list of what I must find.” Did he find her? Read about Bunker’s Sarah-seeking adventures here.

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It’s Cranberry Time

November 20, 2019

Cranberries grow wild in Maine, and you can grow them in your own landscape – even without a bog. (Fedco Trees carries plants and provides cultivation instructions.) Roberta Bailey recounts harvesting the fruits from both situations in her article “Cooking with Cranberries, Wild or Garden-Grown” in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, where she also provides recipes for cranberry rum relish, cranberry salsa, cranberry salad dressing and several other goodies. Her recipes provide lots of great holiday gift ideas.

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