"Cultivating and conserving diversity is no luxury in our times: it is a survival imperative."
- Vandana Shiva
MOF&G Cover Fall 2009
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 Tips & Tidbits – Fall 2009 Minimize

Selling Eggs in Maine

When selling eggs in Maine, the size and grade of the eggs, the name and address of the packer and the statement that refrigeration is required must be on the egg carton or label. No license is required by the state for those with fewer than 3,000 laying hens. Eggs must be stored and transported at 45 F or less. For specific questions or additional information about regulations, contact Dana Finnemore at (207) 287-3841 or dana.finnemore@maine.gov (Extension Perspectives, Waldo County Cooperative Extension Service, June 2009; www.umext.maine.edu/Waldo/newsletters/Pers.htm)

A Seedy Wedding

Planning a wedding? How about giving seeds as guest gifts? CR Lawn reported in his letter to Fedco Seeds customers in January 2009 that one customer bought 300 packets of 'Sparky' marigold for that purpose.

Dried Apples
For years now, I've been drying apples. Whenever we have had a big apple year, I'd bottle the usual jars of applesauce and we'd take bushels of fruit to the apple squeeze and bring back the juice in jugs and buckets, some to be fermented into champagne-like hard cider, some to be bottled in old juice jars for apple juice to last for several years, some cooked down into syrup as sweetener. And, of course, the hardest and closest to perfect apples went into the root cellar, each wrapped in newspaper, for eating all winter.
But there were still more apples – the excess, the early drops and the later imperfect apples. As we picked up drops, we culled them and cut out the bad bits. We sliced off the good parts about 1/4-inch thick, skins included, and spread these on drying racks that hang in a tier from the ceiling in the kitchen (on loops of string that can be rolled up out of the way when we're not using the racks). The apple pieces dry by themselves in several weeks, without heat, with an occasional stir, until they are leathery or even hard. I often finish drying them in a cool oven, which makes them crisp and dry enough not to mold. Then they go into tightly closed gallon jars until needed – sometimes years later. Children chew them, we take them on hikes and car trips, cook them into oatmeal and fritters, add them to baked beans and chili, and make them into pies and applesauce. They cook up quickly and add sweetness, for a long time.

– Beedy Parker, Camden, Maine

Organic Dairy Manure May Offer Fertilizer Option

Dairy cows that produce USDA-certified organic milk also produce manure that may gradually replenish soil nutrients and potentially reduce the flow of agricultural pollutants to nearby water sources, according to USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and colleagues.

Cows on organic dairy farms generally consume forage feeds cultivated on soils that are fertilized with manure and compost rather than synthetic fertilizers. This organic management, in turn, may significantly affect how easily nutrients are converted in soil into forms readily taken up by crops.

Chemist Zhongqi He and colleagues at the ARS New England Plant, Soil, and Water Laboratory in Orono, Maine, and elsewhere, showed that conventional and organic dairy manures from commercial dairy farms differed in concentrations of plant nutrients, including phosphorus, metals and minerals.

Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), the researchers found that the two types of manure had at least 17 different chemical forms of phosphorus that varied in concentrations. The organic dairy manure had higher concentrations of phosphorus, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium.

Organic dairy manure also had more types of phosphorus found in association with calcium and magnesium. Such forms are comparatively slow to dissolve and would thus gradually release the nutrients. Slow-release fertilizers generally increase the likelihood that they eventually will be taken up by crops, rather than being washed out of fields into nearby surface or groundwater sources. Because of this, slow-release fertilizers often can be applied at comparatively low rates. Manure produced by cows in organic production systems may behave more like a slow-release fertilizer than manure from conventional systems. (USDA Agricultural Research Service News Service, Ann Perry, April 22, 2009; www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr)

Food Supplements that Fortify Fowl

Poultry infected with the parasite Eimeria maxima usually develop avian coccidiosis, a disease estimated to cost producers globally more than $1.2 billion each year. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have found that chickens that consumed ground green tea for two weeks before parasitic infection produced significantly fewer fecal E. maxima oocysts than the control group. Also, adding commercial Pediococcus-based probiotics (health-promoting dietary supplements derived from live bacteria or yeasts) to poultry diets reduced oocyte production, increased the production of immune-boosting cytokines, and promoted more weight gain. Chickens that consumed a probiotic combination of lactic acid bacterium and yeasts also had a significant antibody response to parasites; and plum powder supplements stimulated spleen immune cell production, killed tumor cells, promoted weight gain and reduced parasite shedding. Supplements of safflower, used by traditional Chinese practitioners for thousands of years, were similarly beneficial. (USDA Agricultural Research Service News Service, Ann Perry, Agricultural Research, May 1, 2009; www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/may09/poultry0509.htm)

Crabgrass as Sheep Pasture?

Due to weather conditions last summer, writer/farmer Gene Logsdon was unable to cultivate his corn, so crabgrass became established. Later he sowed and disked in red clover - inadvertently helping the crabgrass become even better established. The he turned sheep into the plot - and they seemed to find the crabgrass delectable. Logsdon says that since crabgrass doesn't compete with corn late in the season, and since it thrives late in the summer, when conditions can be hot and dry, this might be a crop to work into a rotation that includes grazing sheep. ("A startling lesson in pasture farming," by Gene Logsdon, June 9, 2009; http://organictobe.org/index.php/60/)


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