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.


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.


Plant Pollinator Strips

July 20, 2017

Pollinator strips – strips of land growing flowering plants for bees – can attract not only more bees but a broader diversity of bees as well. "Diversity is like pollinator insurance – it provides a buffer when weather, disease or some other factor affects some of the bees," writes Sue Smith-Heavenrich in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Read her article "Bring in the Bees with Wildflower Strips" to learn how to create bee habitat.


Watch for Parasitized Japanese Beetles

June 23, 2017

If you see Japanese beetles that have been parasitized by tachinid flies – that is, beetles with white eggs glued to their thorax – don't kill them! As those eggs become larvae, they'll kill the beetles. Then those larvae will turn into more tachinid flies, which will control more beetles … You may see one or more eggs on beetles.


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.


Seeds for Bees

December 15, 2016

Does the snow cover have you thinking about warm, colorful spring and summer gardens? Think bees and other beneficial insects, too! Packets of seeds of plants that support these garden friends make great stocking stuffers. In this photo a honeybee feasts on flowers of garlic chives.



Save the Milkweed, Maybe Save the Monarchs

September 17, 2015

If milkweed grows on your land, let some plants mature and go to seed. A lack of milkweed, especially with the spread of herbicide-tolerant, genetically engineered crops, is one important reason for the decline in monarch butterflies. Share milkweed seed this fall with friends and neighbors who don't have the plants already.
For more about milkweed, see:
* "Magnificant Milkweed"
* "Gardening for Monarchs"
* "What Do We Want – Monarchs or Corn Syrup?"


Value Your Dandelions

May 14, 2015

Did you know that dandelions "are one of the first pollen/nectar sources during the whole growing season," according to New York state farmer Steve Gilman, who spoke at one of MOFGA's Farmer to Farmer Conferences years ago? One researcher "found 93 different species of insects that feed on that pollen/nectar," he added. "The preponderance of those was beneficial insects." Dandelions also serve as overwintering habitat for mycorrhizal fungi - beneficial fungi that associate with plant roots and help take up, conserve and use water and nutrients. So enjoy these bright signs of spring if they pop up in your yard! If you don't want them to get out of hand, mow your lawn high (above 2-1/2 inches) and mow before dandelions go to seed.