Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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An Inexpensive Tillage Tool

December 2019

After reading Edward H. Faulkner’s “Plowman’s Folly,” I was sold on disc plows rather than moldboard plows. Sixty years later, however, finding a disc plow that was not far away and not worn out was impossible, so I bought a rototiller. But my Farmall Cub disc hillers, used for ditching, terracing, cultivating and making narrow raised beds, gave me an idea. My make-anything neighbor, Bruce, had made a simple A-frame for the drawbar of my little John Deere, so I had him make some additions .


Minimizing Seedcorn Maggot Damage

November 2, 2017

The seedcorn maggot is the larvae of a fly, says Eric Sideman, MOFGA's organic crop specialist, in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. He continues: This critter spends the winter as a pupa in the soil. Flies emerge very early in the spring from these pupae and lay eggs near decaying organic matter and germinating seeds. The eggs hatch into maggots that feed on the seeds or young plants. Fall is the time to start thinking about managing this pest because the pupae that overwinter come from eggs laid in the fall.


Focus on Soil Biology

August 10, 2017

Focusing on soil biology should ultimately reduce fertilizer expenditures, improving nutrient efficiency by enabling plant and microbe relationships, reducing nitrate leaching to improve water quality, and reducing unnecessary soil tillage to aid in carbon sequestration and soil structure. Read Will Brinton’s in-depth article “Rebirth of a Movement: The Concept of Soil Health is Changing Soil Testing and Soil Amending” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Mulch for Mycorrhizae

July 27, 2017

Mulches suppress weed growth while retaining moisture in the soil for tree roots and microbes, so they are excellent for minimizing soil disturbance and thus supporting the mycorrhizal fungi that associate with plant roots. Read about these fascinating connections in C.J. Walke's article "Building the Mycorrhizal Connection" in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Permanent Beds Benefit Soils and Plants

March 9, 2017

Farming with no-till permanent beds can improve soil structure, reduce weeds, enable earlier planting dates, increase yields and reduce reliance on expensive equipment. At MOFGA's 2016 Farmer to Farmer Conference, four experts described their permanent bed farming. Read about their methods, which include plenty of ideas for farmers and gardeners, in "Permanent Raised Beds" in the spring 2017 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Growing Garden Crops in Beds

February 9, 2017

Growing crops in beds, generally about 3 to 4 feet wide, rather than in narrow rows is a good way to save space and build healthy, uncompacted soil in a given area. Beds may be level with the surrounding soil or a few inches to a few feet high. Dave Colson, MOFGA's agricultural services director, discusses ways to make wide beds, in his article "Creating a Raised Bed Garden" in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Plant Tillage Radishes Now

September 1, 2016

Early September is a good time to plant a cover crop of tillage radishes – Daikon radishes "bred for improved taproot performance," according to Fedco, which sells organic seed of this crop. These radishes can loosen soil, improve water infiltration and percolation, scavenge nutrients and suppress weeds. They die back after several consecutive nights in the low 20s. Johnny's Selected Seeds suggests avoiding this cover crop in close rotation with cole crops, which have similar insect and disease pests. Eric Sideman, MOFGA's organic crop specialist, offers more ideas for fall cover crops and green manures in his fact sheet, "Using Green Manures."



Compost All Winter

December 11, 2015

You can keep adding food scraps to your outdoor compost pile all winter, if you want. The new material won't compost much until warm spring temperatures arrive. As an alternative, you could try "bokashi" composting indoors. Bokashi refers to breaking down organic materials through fermentation by adding microorganisms to the material in a covered container. MOFGA gardener extraordinaire Adam Tomash wrote about his experiences with bokashi in his article "Bokashi: A Compost Alternative" in the winter 2015 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener


Have Your Soil Tested This Fall

September 10, 2015

The University of Maine Analytical Laboratory and Maine Soil Testing Service tests farm, garden and greenhouse soils for a reasonable price. Early fall is a good time to collect soil samples and send them to the lab so that slowly reacting materials (e.g., lime) can be applied and have time to benefit soils before the next growing season. Taking soil samples regularly at the same time of the year enables you to compare results over the long term. See for directions on collecting soil samples, sending them to the lab, costs and more. See MOFGA's fact sheets on soils for information on building and maintaining healthy soils.