Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Resistant Varieties Counter Leaf Mold in Tomatoes Growing in High Tunnels

February 18, 2016

The best way to manage leaf mold on tomatoes growing in high tunnels is to grow resistant varieties, such as 'Geronimo'. In addition, many growers graft these varieties to vigorous rootstock, which vastly increases production. Those were two points made at a growers' meeting hosted by MOFGA in 2015. Read more in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.




Beneficial Sprays for Orchards

February 4, 2016

A backpack sprayer can be used to deliver nutrients and boost ecosystem health in the orchard, says MOFGA's organic orchardist, C.J. Walke. We can apply materials such as raw neem oil and hydrolyzed fish in the spring to give trees a boost of nutrients as they wake from their winter slumber and strive toward bloom, at the same time providing food sources for our mycorrhizal fungal allies, says Walke. In the summer we can apply calcium and silica in the form of comfrey and nettle teas to enhance fruit development and ripening, while strengthening the waxy cuticle of the fruit surface to reduce summer diseases, such as sooty blotch and fly speck. And in fall, we can come back to fish and oils to speed decomposition of scab-infected leaves and smother insect eggs or fungal spores waiting to winter over and induce infection or infestation come spring. For more information, see Walke's article in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Enjoy Root Cellar Veggies with Maine-grown Ginger

January 28, 2016

Are you keeping an eye on your root cellar vegetables and using them in delicious recipes before they go by? Roberta Bailey provided some recipes – all including Maine-grown ginger – in her column in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Pasta with peanut sauce and steamed vegetables, anyone? And if you want to grow your own ginger, rhizomes are available from Fedco's Moose Tubers.


For the Celery-Impaired, Try Celeriac

January 22, 2016

If you've had trouble growing good celery, maybe celeriac is the vegetable for you. This biennial, Apium graveolens var. rapaceum, is somewhat easier to grow than its fussier relative, celery; its edible part – a fleshy rootstock – adds a celery-like taste to plenty of dishes; and it lasts a long time in storage – just what we need for a Maine winter. Read about growing celeriac in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Use Organically Grown Seeds

January 14, 2016

The USDA organic standards require that certified organic producers use certified organic seeds unless they are not commercially available. Gardeners can help move the organic sector forward, too, by using organic seed – whether purchased or saved from their own organic gardens. MOFGA's agricultural services and certification staff lists some organic seed suppliers here.


Encourage Beneficials

January 7, 2016

To encourage beneficial insects, consider planting (not quite yet!) composites such as coreopsis and alyssum; drilling different size holes in pieces of wood and hanging the wood in trees for mud wasp species; and providing uncultivated areas for ground-nesting species. These were among the many practices that William Cullina, executive director of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, discussed during his keynote speech at MOFGA's Common Ground Country Fair in September 2015. Read more about this wonderful garden and its successful organic methods.


Enjoy Storage Kohlrabi

December 17, 2015

Do you have storage varieties of kohlrabi, such as 'Gigante', in your root cellar? Enjoy it now, cubed in New England boiled dinner, sliced into sticks to enjoy with dip, or even pickled! Will Bonsall writes about growing summer and storage varieties of kohlrabi, and how to enjoy eating both, in his article "Kohlrabi – As Wonderful as It Is Weird," in the winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Compost All Winter

December 11, 2015

You can keep adding food scraps to your outdoor compost pile all winter, if you want. The new material won't compost much until warm spring temperatures arrive. As an alternative, you could try "bokashi" composting indoors. Bokashi refers to breaking down organic materials through fermentation by adding microorganisms to the material in a covered container. MOFGA gardener extraordinaire Adam Tomash wrote about his experiences with bokashi in his article "Bokashi: A Compost Alternative" in the winter 2015 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener


Inventory Your Seeds

December 3, 2015

Seed catalogs are arriving! Inventory your seeds now to see what you should order for the next growing season. Keep seeds you already have in a cool, dry place – such as in a glass jar or food-grade, sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Wondering how long seeds remain viable? Check the guide at Viability will vary, depending in part on how they were stored. You can check viability by placing about 25 seeds in a folded paper towel and keeping the paper moist. If few have germinated after two weeks, it's time to order anew.


Support Native Bees

November 12, 2015

This is a great time to make bee nesting houses, for your own landscape or to give to others as holiday gifts. Native bees are important pollinators – increasingly so, as honeybees suffer from Colony Collapse Disorder and other environmental problems. For in-depth information about making nesting sites for orchard mason bees, see Adam Tomash's article "The Blue Orchard Bee" and Lynn Ascrizzi's "Tiny but Mighty."