Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Eliminate Browntail Caterpillars Now

February 16, 2017

Entomologists from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry say now is the time to eradicate browntail caterpillars in trees that are accessible. Browntail caterpillars cause a rash like poison ivy, and they are spreading across more and more of Maine. Contact with caterpillar hairs can cause severe reactions for some individuals.

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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.

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Grow Ramps from Seed

February 2, 2017

Ramps are a delicious wild edible food beloved by chefs and locavores. Also known as wild leeks (Allium tricoccum), they are a member of the onion family and are a perennial woodland wildflower native to the eastern deciduous forest from Canada to Georgia and west to the prairie states. Heather McCargo of The Wild Seed Project discusses these alliums in her article "How to Grow Ramps from Seed" in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Local Ordinances Protect Health and the Environment

January 26, 2017

With an apparent 700 percent increase in the distribution of home-use pesticide products in Maine in recent years, some Maine citizens have decided to act locally when state and federal governments were not adequately protecting their health and environment from these toxic chemicals. Maine is one of seven states that allow towns to create local laws that are more restrictive than state or federal laws, and 27 Maine municipalities have ordinances that restrict pesticide use beyond state requirements. Learn how local efforts have worked, as presented at the 2016 Common Ground Country Fair teach-in on this subject organized by MOFGA's Public Policy Committee.

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Recycle Your Christmas Tree

January 5, 2017

Real Christmas trees can serve several purposes once they're taken down and removed from the house. If the snow is deep enough, you can stick the tree in the snow near a bird feeder to shelter birds as they flit to and from the feeder. If you have the time, you can cut (or shake) off the dried needles and make a balsam sachet. You can cut the branches off and mulch perennials with them. Even if you just let the tree rot in your woods or in an out-of-the-way place in your yard, it will continue to sequester some carbon and will add organic matter to the soil over time.

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Grow Your Own Indigo for Dyeing

December 29, 2016

What could be more home-grown than dyeing a natural fiber from a Maine farm with indigo that you grow yourself? Japanese indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) is an annual that is easy to grow in Maine gardens and that imparts a beautiful blue-violet color to wool and other fibers and fabrics. Several years ago MOFGA member Cynthia Thayer demonstrated dyeing with indigo at the Common Ground Country Fair. Read about her process in "Dyeing with Indigo" in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Seeds of Polygonum tinctorium are available from Fedco.

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Seeds for Bees

December 15, 2016

Does the snow cover have you thinking about warm, colorful spring and summer gardens? Think bees and other beneficial insects, too! Packets of seeds of plants that support these garden friends make great stocking stuffers. In this photo a honeybee feasts on flowers of garlic chives.

 

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Make a Wreath

December 8, 2016

December is a traditional time to make an evergreen wreath – a symbol for some of the continuous circle of life; for others, a colorful ornament when much of nature rests. Simple wreaths are easy to make, and with experience you can make gorgeous works of horticultural art and lovely holiday gifts. Consider making a wreath with dried herbs, dried hot peppers, dried apple slices or other foods. Succulents can be “planted” into sphagnum moss on a round form to make a living wreath. The options, like the circle, are endless. Check YouTube for wreath-making videos. The photo here shows a wreath that Maine gardener Jeanne Hollingsworth made.

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Order Seeds with Seed Saving in Mind

December 1, 2016

Seed catalogs are arriving! When ordering seeds, you might consider buying some that are not protected by intellectual property rights so that future breeders and seed savers (you?) have the right to save and work with these varieties. You may have noticed some of the vegetables in the Exhibition Hall at the Common Ground Country Fair were labeled as Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) varieties. Created to "free the seed," OSSI, according to its website, ensures that the genes in at least some seed can never be locked away from use by intellectual property rights. It promotes sharing rather than restricting access to plant germplasm, recognizes and supports the work of plant breeders of all kinds, and supports a diversified and decentralized seed industry. You can find almost 300 "freed" seed varieties and their sources on the OSSI website. The variety pictured here is Uncle David's Dakota Dessert Buttercup, bred by David Podoll of Prairie Road Organic Seed in North Dakota and grown at MOFGA-certified organic North Branch Farm in Monroe, Maine.

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