Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Be Like an Ancient Apple Tree

July 23, 2020

As we struggle to make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic, says John Bunker, we might consider looking at old apple trees that have survived famously cold winters, a summer without summer, hurricanes, drought, insect and disease infestations and more. There’s a chance that everything we need to know about survival, these trees have known for millennia: Don’t move; build community; waste not, want not; eat local; bend. Read more in “The Pandemic and the Ancient Apple Tree” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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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.

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Browntail Moth Management

December 2019

Late winter is the time to clip browntail moth (BTM) caterpillar webs from trees that are accessible. Hairs of these caterpillars can cause a rash like poison ivy as well as respiratory problems, and the pest is spreading, especially along coastal Maine.

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Take Softwood Cuttings Now

June 26, 2015

This is a good time to take softwood cuttings of woody plants - especially of plants that root easily, such as elderberry, forsythia and willow. To take cuttings, snip about 5 inches of this year's growth that is green but firm, not "bendy." Place the cuttings in a container with drainage holes in the bottom, filled with a 1:1 mixture of moist perlite and vermiculite (available at garden centers). Cover the container loosely with a plastic bag and keep it in a shady spot. After a few weeks test the cuttings for rooting by pulling up on them gently. If you sense resistance, they've rooted. Dump them out of the container (or pry them out with a butter knife) and pot them in a growing mix. They should be ready to plant in the landscape by this fall or next spring. Here's an excellent article on the subject.

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Try a Hugelkultur Bed This Year

April 9, 2015

As you clean up branches and trunks of trees that were damaged by snow this winter, consider making a hugelkultur (mound culture) bed with them. Hugelkultur beds are excellent for draining and, at the same time, retaining moisture, so they provide a good way to grow crops when weather and climate are uncertain. Read more about hugelkultur at http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/ and in article published in the Summer 2013 Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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