Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Where There’s a Will, There’s a Garden

August 1, 2019

We all want to garden in a level, deep, well-drained, loamy soil nourished with organic matter. But sometimes you just don’t find those qualities where you live. What to do? In her article “Rock and Roll: Terraces in Ancient Jerusalem” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Deborah Rubin Fields discusses how challenging ancient Jerusalem’s topography and climate were – yet people still farmed and gardened there, by establishing terraces. Read more and be inspired.


Farm, Garden and Homestead Tours Abound

July 25, 2019

Visiting farms and gardens is a great way to learn about new techniques for your own garden, get landscape design ideas and increase your appreciation for the products Maine farmers raise. This weekend is a biggie, with Open Farm Day on Sunday, July 28. In addition, MOFGA’s Daytripping article lists four places to tour this weekend: The Trotochaud/McDowell Gardens and Everyday Pottery in Belmont on July 27 and 28, and on July 28, Balfour Farm in Pittsfield, Khadighar in Industry and Rabbit Hill Farm in Deer Isle. Find other MOFGA-sponsored tours at


Cakes and Fritters Make Great Summer Meals

July 11, 2019

Are your carrots and zukes coming in? Try using them in patty form. “I find that fritters and cakes in a pan are quick, easy additions to a summer meal,” writes Roberta Bailey in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. “When my kids were young, we made flat breads and pan cakes regularly. They would create new versions of a veggie burger or clam cake and help cook them. One sweet summer, when we traded vegetables for crabmeat, we tried over a dozen versions of crab cakes. We ended up agreeing that simpler was better, as it allowed the delicate crab flavor to come through the most.” See Bailey’s recipes for carrot latkes, crab or clam cakes, zucchini burgers and nutty summer cakes.


Conserving Flint Corn Varieties

July 5, 2019

Flint corn offers nourishment as well as ties to Native cultures. “The valley in Norridgewock and the flood plains of the Kennebec were principal growing areas for massive quantities of corn and appear to have been part of the trade network,” says Albie Barden. “The Norridgewock people would travel to the coast every summer and come back in the fall, with some trips in between.” Now numerous people (“cornservators”) are growing varieties of flint corn to increase the seed supply and the supply of grain for commercial enterprises. Barden and Michele Carmel discuss the grain in “Seeking Flint Corn Propagators” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Native Trees and Shrubs for Agroforestry

June 27, 2019

Diversifying a farm with trees and shrubs produces a valuable harvest and shady foraging area – and provides the ideal growing environment for high-value woodland medicinal herbs. In her article “Permaculture with a Native Twist” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Heather McCargo discusses the benefits of using native plants in such permaculture settings and lists several native trees and shrubs for agroforestry. Aronia, blueberry, elderberry, hazelnut ... lots of choices here!


Smaller, Lighter Beehive Design

June 20, 2019

Lifting 50- to 90-pound boxes of honey a few times is “a lot of heavy lifting!” writes Jonathan Mitschele in his article “Smaller and Lighter Beehives Are Better” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Mitschele came up with a two-queen, side-by-side hive design in which each box in a hive weighs no more than 25 pounds and usually less. Read about his beehives and much more in our newspaper.


How to Trellis Peas

June 14, 2019

Peas appreciate a trellis. Will Bonsall says that he uses mostly 4- to 5-foot hex-wire (chicken fencing) for his pea trellises, as it is relatively quick to put up and lasts for years if properly stored between seasons. To help vines cling to it, he adds a piece of binder twine lengthwise to both sides of the row, about halfway up the eventual height of the plants, weaving it into the wire fence every 6 to 8 feet. “It's much easier and more effective to tie up peas loosely before they start to fall away from the support,” he says. Read more about Bonsall’s pea cultivation ideas (including a summer sowing) in his article “Edible-Podded Peas” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Hope Regarding Emerald Ash Borer Control

June 6, 2019

The emerald ash borer (EAB), a non-native beetle that has been munching its way through the nation’s ash trees, was first detected in Maine in June 2018. Despite the grim picture, there are some rays of hope regarding this pest, writes Hannah Murray in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Infestation is far from widespread in Maine, and we may still have time to slow EAB spread – especially if we can halt the transport of firewood. For biological controls, woodpeckers may be able to cause more than 90 percent mortality in EAB. Scientists are exploring the use of parasitoid wasps and predators to reduce pest populations, and even heavily-infested areas have occasional surviving trees. White ash seems to be faring better than others and may have genetic resistance to EAB. Some municipalities have used pesticides to save target trees, with varying outcomes. Use of such chemicals may harm pollinators. Read more in Murray’s article “10 Q&A’s About Emerald Ash Borer.”


Watch for Spotted Lanternfly

May 30, 2019

The spotted lanternfly is a new invasive pest has the potential to threaten the tree fruit, horticulture and timber industries of the Northeast. It has been seen as close to Maine as Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania. Adults and nymphs feed on leaves and stems by sucking out the plant sap with their straw-like mouth parts. The feeding causes wilting, dieback and eventual death of the plant after prolonged exposure. C.J. Walke, MOFGA’s organic orchard educator, tells how to spot and report this pest in his article “Spotted Lanternfly – A Pest on the Horizon” in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.