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MOF&G Cover Winter 2001-2002

  

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 Tips – Winter 2001-2002 Minimize


Extension Fact Sheets on the Web
A Vegetable Gardening System
Apprenticeship Matchmaker
Organic Ingredients Online



Extension Fact Sheets on the Web

University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers more than 200 free, printable fact sheets on its Web site (www.umext.maine.edu) on many topics, such as gardening, nutrition, food safety, livestock, parenting and small business. Traditional printed publications also can be ordered directly on the Web site. More than 600 titles are available. For more information, contact Communications Office, Univ. of Maine Coop. Extension, 581-3269 or 1-800-287-0274.

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A Vegetable Gardening System

Greg and Pat Williams described their vegetable garden crop rotation system in the April 2001 issue of their publication, HortIdeas (750 Black Lick Rd., Gravel Switch KY 40328). Their garden crops can be divided into three types: direct-seeded early crops; transplanted, warm-weather crops; and direct-seeded warm-weather crops. The transplanted crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillas, Brussels sprouts and some herbs) are grown with a black plastic mulch. In the case of the tomatoes, the plants are set out, and after a couple of weeks, when they’ve become established and a good rain has moistened the soil, the Williamses put 4-foot-wide black plastic between the tomato rows, holding it down with tomato cages that are installed at the same time.

Other parts of the garden are rototilled and planted to corn, beans and squash.

In the fall, areas that were not under plastic and have no crops growing anymore are planted to rye and vetch. The following spring, the cover crop is mowed with a lawnmower, leaving the residue on the soil. The vetch tends to die once it’s mowed. Holes are hand-dug for the tomato seedlings, right in the rye. A couple of weeks later, the black plastic and tomato cages are added. The plastic remains in place over the winter.

The following spring, the plastic is removed, revealing a friable soil enriched by the decomposed rye and vetch. Spring crops are easily planted here. Where spring crops or corn, beans and squash were planted the previous year, tomatoes and other transplanted crops can now be grown through the rye-vetch cover crop and later mulched with plastic.

The Williamses use black plastic because they have to cross “a sizeable creek” to get to their garden, so they can’t carry large amounts of organic mulch there. They do poke holes in the plastic to enable rain to penetrate, and they reuse plastic (which they get free) that would otherwise be going to a landfill. Those without the creek limitation could try paper or other organic material instead.

The advantages of this system are:

• The mulch cuts the time needed to weed;

• Little or no fertilizer is needed in the garden because of the contributions of the rye and vetch;

• It sets up a simple crop rotation system that should cut down on disease problems;

• Soil structure is improved (or at least destroyed less) because the system cuts down on rototilling and the cover crop adds organic matter;

• The soil is protected from erosion over winter by either a cover crop or mulch.

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Apprenticeship Matchmaker

Looking far and wide for an apprentice or an apprenticeship? Check www.OrganicVolunteers.com, an online database that allows you to find or list any apprenticeship or volunteer opportunities concerning sustainability and the environment. Closer to home, check out MOFGA’s apprenticeship program by calling MOFGA or visiting the MOFGA booth at the Common Ground Country Fair.

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Organic Ingredients Online

Looking for a certified organic ingredient? The Organic Trade Association has an online directory of suppliers of certified organic ingredients. Go to www.ota.com, click on The Organic Pages Online, and search for general or specific ingredients.

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