Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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An Inexpensive Tillage Tool

December 2019

After reading Edward H. Faulkner’s “Plowman’s Folly,” I was sold on disc plows rather than moldboard plows. Sixty years later, however, finding a disc plow that was not far away and not worn out was impossible, so I bought a rototiller. But my Farmall Cub disc hillers, used for ditching, terracing, cultivating and making narrow raised beds, gave me an idea. My make-anything neighbor, Bruce, had made a simple A-frame for the drawbar of my little John Deere, so I had him make some additions .


It’s Cranberry Time

November 20, 2019

Cranberries grow wild in Maine, and you can grow them in your own landscape – even without a bog. (Fedco Trees carries plants and provides cultivation instructions.) Roberta Bailey recounts harvesting the fruits from both situations in her article “Cooking with Cranberries, Wild or Garden-Grown” in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, where she also provides recipes for cranberry rum relish, cranberry salsa, cranberry salad dressing and several other goodies. Her recipes provide lots of great holiday gift ideas.


Native Winterberries Bursting Forth with Color

November 14, 2019

Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) seem to be especially abundant this fall, with striking bursts of red appearing throughout the landscape. The University of Maine says that 49 species of birds, including songbirds, winter waterfowl and game birds, devour these native berries. “Frequent songbird consumers include eastern bluebirds, hermit and wood thrushes, American robins, catbirds, northern mockingbirds, brown thrashers, cedar waxwings, and white-tailed sparrows. Because the berries are relatively low in fat content, they are often taken late in the winter when other fruits are scarce.” At a time when many birds are harmed by such pesticides as the widely used neonicotinoids, planting or encouraging winterberries in an unsprayed landscape can be one of the best season’s greetings for all of us.


Focus on Your Forest

November 7, 2019

With gardens put to bed, those of us with woodlots might turn our attention to them during the “off” season. Noah Gleason-Hart, MOFGA’s low-impact forestry specialist, says that regardless of the size of your woodlot or your level of experience, you can learn to build financial value, encourage biodiversity and foster the carbon sequestration potential in your woodlot. He offers suggestions for accomplishing those goals in his article “What Can We Do Today to Make a Difference for the Forest?” in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Rapid Apple Decline

October 31, 2019

Have some of your apple trees mysteriously and rather rapidly died? C.J. Walke, MOFGA’s organic orchard educator, says that researchers at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture have named this phenomenon Rapid Apple Decline (RAD), or Sudden Apple Decline (SAD), and an explanation has yet to be found. Symptoms resemble characteristics of stress, in which leaves begin to look pale yellow, then reddish, which often indicates girdling, and then curl up and eventually die. Whole limbs or whole trees can be affected. Read more in Walke’s article “Rapid Apple Decline” in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


To Till or Not To Till

October 24, 2019

Tilling and not tilling both have their pros and cons. Will Bonsall looks at the practices in his article “To Till or Not To Till” in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. He concludes about various no-till practices, “While all of these approaches have their strengths, I am skeptical that any one will be appropriate for every crop in every situation. I pooh-pooh some aspect of each while adopting features that seem useful. Like any other system, we must weigh all inputs: the land area supplying mulch and the labor and energy required to collect, process and move it. The real bottom line is often elusive. We may not have all the answers, but we can insist on asking better questions.”


Soup Time

October 2, 2019

If you brought your tomatoes, peppers and basil in before a frost, you might combine them with celery, garlic, onions and more to make tri-county tomato soup. Roberta Bailey provides the recipe in her Harvest Kitchen column in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. She explains that tri-county refers to the old combined MOFGA chapter of Washington, Aroostook and Penobscot counties. “Three farms, one from each county, made this soup, tweaked it to our likings and canned it.”