Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association


Greenhouses for Homeowners and Gardeners
A Guide to Raising Beef Cattle
Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots
Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs
Introduction to Forest Ecology and Silviculture
A Farm of Our Own – A Spiritual Journey Running a Smallholding

Greenhouses for Homeowners and Gardeners
John W. Bartok, Jr., Prof. Emeritus, Univ. of Connecticut, 2000
214 pages
$25 plus $5.50 shipping & handling (plus 8% sales tax for N.Y. residents) from NRAES, Cooperative Extension, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-5701.

Greenhouses for Homeowners and Gardeners covers planning, design and construction details for every style and type of greenhouse – from relatively inexpensive, film-plastic-covered growing spaces to custom-designed sunspaces that extend the living area within the home. This comprehensive, easy-to-follow book will help readers select and design the most appropriate size and style of greenhouse to fit their needs and budgets, find the best location for a greenhouse, and decide whether to build it themselves or hire a contractor. It provides extra guidance and in-depth information for people who want to work with a contractor or build a “ready-to-assemble” kit greenhouse. The book addresses gardeners, homeowners, cooperative extension educators and institutions (such as retirement homes, schools and prison associations). Small farmers may also find the book useful.

The eight chapters cover greenhouse basics, selecting a greenhouse, greenhouse planning, framing materials and glazing, greenhouse layouts and equipment, the greenhouse environment, window greenhouses and growth chambers, and garden structures. It will enable both aspiring and practicing greenhouse operators to make informed decisions about foundations, construction materials, space utilization, interior design, heating and cooling systems, supplemental lighting, watering and fertilizing systems, and other design and construction issues. The garden structures chapter covers the design, construction and use of cold frames, hotbeds, shade houses, row covers and high tunnels.

Nearly 150 line drawings illustrate building, design interiors, labor saving equipment, and more. Ten do-it-yourself plans for different types of greenhouses and other garden structures are provided in an appendix. Each plan includes materials lists and construction diagrams and details. Three additional appendices contain a greenhouse maintenance checklist, lists of greenhouse and equipment suppliers, and useful conversions. A glossary concludes the book.

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Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots
by Sharon Lovejoy
159 pages, Workman Publishing, 1999. $13.95, paper.

If you want to make a pizza, you’ll need tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and lots of manure! Yep, you heard right. Manure is as essential to pizza as the mozzarella. If you’re planting a pizza garden, that is.

In Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots, author and illustrator Sharon Lovejoy tries to “open the eyes of grown-ups and children to the many wonders in their own backyard.” Her brightly colored illustrations make you want to open the book, and her creative theme gardens and fun activities will tickle your imagination.

Her book begins with a list of her “top 20 plants for kids.” These are old favorites full of texture, color and fragrance. They grow quickly – a real plus when you’ve got impatient children waiting for results – and most are easy to grow annuals suitable for most zones in the United States. Best of all, they can be used in the crafts and activities in the book.

If you don’t like pizza, maybe you’d rather plant a sunflower house, or grow zinnias in your mom’s old boots, or plant a moon garden using a moon-planting calendar. Or maybe you’re an adventurous soul who’d like to get lost in a flower maze or go to the land of the giants. Or .... if you’d like a bit of insurance against the next drought, you might want to try planting the three sisters in a Zuni waffle garden.

Each chapter focuses on one theme garden. Lovejoy lists tools, seeds and plants, and gives you detailed drawings of the garden designs. She includes activities for rainy days, recipes for chocolate mint tea and moon broth, and crafts that would make nice gifts.

While the plants are growing, she suggests tons of “discovery” activities that get children exploring the diversity of life in their garden. You can go on a bug safari or a plant-family walk, investigate cricket thermometers, or throw a seed-saving party.

Lovejoy puts parents (teachers, too) into the role of “earth mentors.” As earth mentors, we don’t “do” garden chores. Instead, we open doors to discovery and learn along with our children. Because children will be touching and eating the plants they grow, she emphasizes organic gardening. Never, she emphatically states, never* use pesticides or any toxic chemicals in the gardens. And yes, she does give basic critter control advice so that your pizza doesn’t get eaten up before it ever reaches the oven….

A chapter of gardening basics is great for folks who’ve never gardened before and is full of helpful reminders for those of us who have. Lovejoy also tells you how to make your own seed tapes, create compost piles, build worm boxes, and offers a list of items every kid needs in a “garden explorer’s kit.” There’s a wonderful appendix listing seed catalogs, and more.

– Sue Smith-Heavenrich, Candor, N.Y.

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Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs
by Sandie Shores.
453 pages, Storey Books, PO Box 445, Pownal, VT 05261. $27.95.

Fifteen years ago, when Sandie Shores decided to start an herb business, little information was available on growing and selling herbs. She began, as many of us do, by planting seeds. Soon she had card tables scattered throughout her house, filled to overflowing with flats of seedlings and grow-lights. More flats took over the top of her stove, because the pilot light gave off just the right amount of heat needed for germination. She tilled up half an acre of pasture for her garden, built a greenhouse on a flood plain, and sold bulk herbs at a third their value because she didn’t have a scale to weigh them. Along the way Shores managed to build a pretty good business and gathered a vast amount of wisdom, which she generously shares in her book, Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs.

This book is user-friendly. It’s organized into four main parts, with text accompanied by clear illustrations and photographs. In Part I, Shores discusses business details: evaluating farm sites for greenhouses and gardens; locating potential markets; selling to restaurants and wholesalers. If you’ve never thought about invoices, she offers practical advice on everything from packing slips to pricing, and shares a philosophical aside on business growth and getting “too big.”

Part II is devoted to building and maintaining greenhouses. Here she discusses glazing and films, structure and design. She educates us about heating, cooling, and ventilation, and reminds us to consider watering systems. Carrying buckets across an icy back yard is not efficient! Then, too, interior design must be considered: Do you want benches? Beds? Or perhaps containers?

In Part III we get an intense mini-course on everything from growing and nurturing the plants to harvesting, handling and packaging. This section is loaded with practical information, great tips, and quick guides on everything from seed-starting to “Production Lead Times for Plants Grown From Seed.” Chapters cover controlling insect pests and plant diseases, with a heavy emphasis on organic methods (though she does mention chemicals as well). The section on IPM is good, as is the discussion on pesticide resistance – and, yes, she includes botanicals as pesticides.

The final section is a handbook on growing herbs and edible flowers. From arugula to winter savory, Shores introduces us to the herbs and their many varieties. She tells how to propagate each one; gives notes on culture, pests and harvesting; and provides tips on packaging. A handy glossary, and an appendix of resources listing wholesale suppliers, government agencies, and more complete the book.

If you plan on growing herbs for profit, put this book on your Christmas list. It is truly an essential handbook for the herbal entrepreneur.

– Sue Smith-Heavenrich, Candor, N.Y.

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Introduction to Forest Ecology and Silviculture (Second Edition)
by Thom J. McEvoy, Assoc. Prof. and Extension Forester, Univ. of Vermont
Sept. 2000; 96 pages
$9 plus $3.75 shipping and handling from Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (NRAES), 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca NY 14853-5701; 607-255-7654; fax 607-254-8770; email [email protected]; or visit www.nraes.org.

Viewing a community of plants and animals as a household composed of interrelated members is crucial to understanding how ecology relates to forest management practices and timber harvesting. A new book from NRAES introduces practical concepts that will help woodland owners, loggers and foresters anticipate how the forest will react to change and control the environmental disturbance of timber harvesting. Introduction to Forest Ecology and Silviculture provides an overview of two closely related subjects: forest ecology – the study of life in areas where the predominant vegetation is trees; and silviculture – the art and science of controlling the species mix, growth rate, size and form of trees in forests for the production of wood products and other benefits.

Following an introduction, individual chapters cover: aspects of the forest site; how forests grow and change; the effects of stress and disturbance on forest ecosystems; forest management as controlling disturbances; typical practices and purposes of silviculture in the Northeast; silvicultural systems; developing silvicultural prescriptions; combining timber goals with other resource values; the realities behind common myths about silviculture; working with foresters and loggers; and ecosystem management. Attention is also given to practicing silviculture in stands that are susceptible to ice damage and to silvicultural practices that benefit wildlife.

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A Farm of Our Own – A Spiritual Journey Running a Smallholding
Graham R. Irwin
Softcover, 159 pp., 1998
CityScape Books, PO Box 16554, London SE1 5ZS, UK
www.compassion-in-business.co.uk
($17.75 from from Dixon-Price Publishing, 618 West Spacerma, Ste. 1, Murray, UT 84123)

Graham Irwin and his partner, Rosemarie, spent 10 years on a “smallholding” in England, raising vegetables for themselves, eggs for sale, and various animals: sheep, goats, cattle and bees. This book takes a tender, sometimes humorous look at that time.

A Farm of Our Own will not teach you how to raise crops or animals, but for someone thinking of going into farming, it will give you a flavor of farm life, some of the pitfalls (such as a very sad time when a cow had to be put down because of mad cow disease), some of the idiosyncrasies (such as a billy goat giving milk), a few tips that seem obvious in retrospect (such as catching sheep by using a feed bucket rather than chasing them), and maybe even some marketing ideas (such as naming hand-knit wool sweaters after their “original owners” – Helga, Vashti, Mopsy…).

The book ends on a sad note, with Graham and Rosemarie splitting up and leaving the farm. However, Graham takes a long philosophical look at his decade on the farm and sees the spiritual growth he attained as a result of it. For example, he says that he gained a new appreciation for the link between thoughts and results, “just how thoughts could create a physical manifestation … Perhaps it was all this that first helped me appreciate that there is more to life than simply what we can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch … I guess it is what I now consider the spiritual side of life.”

He reminds us how important it is to stop and and reflect on the wonder of the lives we create for ourselves.

– Jean English

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MOF&G Cover Winter 2000-2001