Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Think Spring (Bulbs)!

September 8, 2016

Spring-flowering bulbs are among the earliest spring food sources for bees, and they're wonderful for awakening our own senses in the spring. Plan and plant this fall for "the color-rich buoys of hope in a sea of mud and sloppy snow squalls," as Roberta Bailey says in her "Fall Bulb Primer" in the fall 2013 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Shade Trees Add Cool Values

September 1, 2016

Remember those sweltering days of last July? Beedy Parker, a MOFGA member, recalled on one of those days an article she had written for the Camden Herald in 1989 encouraging people to plant trees to cool and cleanse the air.


Freezing Grilled Pepper Strips

September 1, 2016

When I harvest peppers in the fall, I roast some on my outside grill, seed them while they're still warm, and put the slippery product into a big bowl in the refrigerator to freeze the next day. I use a vacuum bag sealer, and I was wondering how I was going to get these slimy things into the bag. Using a food-grade plastic cutting mat that was a little narrower and about 2 inches longer than the bag, I cut a section of the mat to fit into the bag an inch or so. Then I piled peppers on the exposed length of the mat. I slid the peppers and mat into the bag, coaxing wayward pieces and then tipping the mat upright and pulling it out. This made a messy job a breeze.

– Adam Tomash


Plant Tillage Radishes Now

September 1, 2016

Early September is a good time to plant a cover crop of tillage radishes – Daikon radishes "bred for improved taproot performance," according to Fedco, which sells organic seed of this crop. These radishes can loosen soil, improve water infiltration and percolation, scavenge nutrients and suppress weeds. They die back after several consecutive nights in the low 20s. Johnny's Selected Seeds suggests avoiding this cover crop in close rotation with cole crops, which have similar insect and disease pests. Eric Sideman, MOFGA's organic crop specialist, offers more ideas for fall cover crops and green manures in his fact sheet, "Using Green Manures."



Purslane Loves This Weather

August 26, 2016

Purslane captivated a couple of dozen MOFGA apprentices and others during a Farm Training Project workshop at Hatchet Cove Farm in Warren recently. This heat- and drought-tolerant, succulent, delicious crop was thriving despite the lack of rain in that area then. This can be a good crop to add to your garden for biodiversity. For recipe ideas, including cucumber-purslane-yogurt salad and Asian-style purslane garlic sauté, see Roberta Bailey's article "Purslane, It's Not Just a Weed Anymore" in the summer 2013 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Trapping Orchard Pests

August 11, 2016

Traps can provide helpful information about pests in your orchard ecosystem. Traps are also useful in young plantings that have yet to fruit or are in their first years of fruit bearing but have not yet reached marketable yields. Collecting and retaining this information will highlight trends in your orchard system and help establish methods of pest control before populations escalate. Read about traps for codling moths and apple maggots in C. J. Walke's article in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, "Trapping Orchard Pests," so that you can plan to use these traps next year.


Grow Schisandra

August 4, 2016

Schisandra berries are delicious; can be made into juices, wines, teas, sweets and tinctures; can be eaten dried or fresh; and are an adaptogen – that is, they have a broad spectrum of uses for health and they may reduce mental and physical stress. The woody schisandra vine is hardy in Maine. Read all about this valuable plant in Roberta Bailey's article “Grow Your Own Schisandra” in the summer 2016 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Low-Energy Storage Techniques for Garden Crops

July 28, 2016

Gardens are producing abundantly now. How can you store the excess? Anneli Carter-Sundqvist describes low-energy techniques, such as a naturally cool root cellar, drying, fermenting and canning, that require little time and equipment and that she and Dennis Carter use at Deer Isle Hostel. Read Anneli's article "If You Can Keep It, You Can Eat It" in the summer edition of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.