Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Inspiration from the Exhibition Hall

September 26, 2019

This Rezha Macedonian hot pepper grown by Rosey Guest of Jefferson, Maine, was one of the unusual entries in the Exhibition Hall at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair last weekend. ‘Rezha’ translates as ‘engraved’ and refers to the lines on the skin. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds says the fruits “range from mild to sometimes very pungent” and “are to be seen hanging in great clusters, drying in Macedonian warm late autumn sun.” Guest won a blue ribbon (first place) and a gift certificate to a Maine seed company for her entry. What will you enter next year? Information about the Exhibition Hall is posted here.

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Dealing with Drosophila on Elderberries

September 19, 2019

If your elderberries dropped to the ground before the entire panicle of fruits was ripe, they may have been attacked by the spotted wing drosophila (SWD). In their new book, “Farming on the Wild Side,” Nancy and John Hayden of The Farm Between in northern Vermont discuss how they are addressing this pest. They have shifted to picking and selling elderberry flowers (for cordials and other products) as one alternative, and for fruits, they pick the ripe portions every few days to try to keep ahead of the pest. They have also planted several varieties of elderberries and try to harvest early-bearing varieties before SWD populations are too high.

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Learn About Invasives at the Fair

September 12, 2019

Are you struggling with invasive plants? Come to the Common Ground Country Fair to learn about this issue. From 1 to 2 p.m. on Friday, September 20, Nancy Olmstead of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Natural Areas Program, will discuss “Invasive Plants in Your Woods” in the Low-Impact Forestry Tent. Meanwhile, read up on invasives in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener here and here.

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How to Do Everything

September 5, 2019

How to save seeds, plant garlic, grow and market lowbush blueberries, grow tree crops, plant an edible landscape, establish a cover crop ... If you want to learn something about organic cultivation (or livestock, fiber work, crafts and more), you can probably find it among the more than 700 talks and workshops at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair on September 20, 21 and 22 in Unity. In addition, plenty of experts will be at the Fair to answer your questions. See all the details at http://www.mofga.org/The-Fair.

Photo: From left, Eliot Coleman, Will Bonsall and Eric Sideman in deep discussion at the Common Ground Country Fair.

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Fiber at the Fair: It’s to Dye For

September 1, 2019

Fiber and natural dye enthusiasts love the fascinating exhibits and interactions in the fiber areas of MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair.

Visit the Wednesday Spinners Tent, Fiber Marketplace, Fleece Tent and Sale, Maine Fiber Farms area, Agricultural Products area, Youth Enterprise Zone and Dye Garden (with Earth Loom) to learn about spinning, dyeing, weaving, raising animals for fiber, raising plants for dyes, and more. Last year the Wednesday Spinners exhibited these mittens made with yarn dyed with weld or dyer’s rocket, Reseda luteola, a common, introduced weed in North America.

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Collect Seeds of Native Plants This Fall

August 30, 2019

One way to support insects and other wildlife is to grow native plants in the landscape (and, of course, not to use pesticides). Many native plants produce seeds in the fall, ready for collecting. Shown here are seeds and seedpods of swamp milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa). Flowers of this plant support numerous bees, butterflies and moths. Foliage supports monarch caterpillars. All of this life supports people’s mental health (and, of course, the pollinators help feed us). English photos.

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Grow Husk Cherries in Containers

August 28, 2019

Husk cherries, also called ground cherries or husk tomatoes, produce sweet, delicious fruits inside papery husks. They’re wonderful to eat but can be difficult to harvest, as the ripe fruits fall all over the ground and under the plants. One solution for home gardeners who grow just a few plants is to raise them in large (3 gallon or so) containers and set the containers at waist-level. The trays in the photo sit atop sawhorses and catch the ripe fruits when they drop, making them easy to scoop up without having to bend over. The potted soil does dry out quickly so needs close attention to watering. English photo

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Find New and Old Varieties in the Exhibition Hall

August 22, 2019

The Exhibition Hall at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair is the place to learn about new and old crop varieties, such as this Sikkim cucumber grown and displayed by Martha Gottlieb of Whitefield at the 2018 Fair. This variety was originally from the Himalayas of the Indian state of Sikkim and of Nepal. You can learn about such crops from vegetable expert CR Lawn, who will give a guided tour of the veggies in the Exhibition Hall on Sunday, September 22, 2019, from 2 to 3 p.m.

Photo: Sikkim cucumbers at the Common Ground Country Fair

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Got a Whatever? Bring it to the Fair.

August 15, 2019

Whether you’ve grown prize-winning tomatoes, an heirloom apple or a vegetable oddity, all such products are welcome (as are prepared foods and arts and crafts) in the Exhibition Hall at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair. The odd summer squash shown here would be ideal for the “whatever” table in the hall. See the Fair page of mofga.org for information about entering products – and about the children’s apple pie contest, the natural dessert contest and the seed swap, also in the Exhibition Hall. Fairgoers flock to these exhibits and events all three days of the Fair – September 20, 21 and 22 this year (always the third weekend after Labor Day).

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Grow Your Own Corn Chowder

August 8, 2019

Ingredients for tasty and nutritious corn chowders are in season now in Maine gardens and farms. Sweet corn, especially if transplanted, may be ready for picking (or picking up at farmers’ markets). You won’t find a better chowder than that made with local, organic corn picked at its height of sweetness. Steam twice as many ears as you want to eat today, and freeze leftover kernels for winter chowders. Likewise, new potatoes and sweet onions are in season. If you don’t raise your own cow for the milk or cream, find those organic ingredients at local farms or co-ops.

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