Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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The Almost-Last Garden Hurrah of the Season

September 3, 2020

We're down to about 13 hours of daylight. Beans and greens, blueberries and raspberries pack the freezer. The garden bursts with late-summer abundance – for us human consumers and for lots of other beings. Hummingbirds lick the nectar from scarlet runner bean flowers before the birds' long flight south later this month, while bumblebees and honeybees gather pollen from sunflowers that support the runner beans. It's a jungle out there – one to appreciate as the equinox approaches; one to evaluate for next year's even better garden. Enjoy!

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Plant Pollinator Strips

July 20, 2017

Pollinator strips – strips of land growing flowering plants for bees – can attract not only more bees but a broader diversity of bees as well. "Diversity is like pollinator insurance – it provides a buffer when weather, disease or some other factor affects some of the bees," writes Sue Smith-Heavenrich in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Read her article "Bring in the Bees with Wildflower Strips" to learn how to create bee habitat.

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Double Down on Resisting Roundup

May 11, 2017

Even more prevalent than the edible, bee-friendly dandelions popping up in lawns and gardens now are the ads for Roundup and other lawn "care" pesticides (some including neonicotinoid insecticides) and the proliferation of these products on store shelves – and even in bags piled on floors of some stores. Alas, another place for the resistance movement to take root! If you doubt that these products can harm humans and the environment, please read our pesticides quiz, compiled by Sharon Tisher of MOFGA's Public Policy Committee. If you doubt that a healthy lawn is possible without toxic synthetic chemicals, please see our fact sheet, "Establishing and Caring for an Organic Lawn."

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Seeds for Bees

December 15, 2016

Does the snow cover have you thinking about warm, colorful spring and summer gardens? Think bees and other beneficial insects, too! Packets of seeds of plants that support these garden friends make great stocking stuffers. In this photo a honeybee feasts on flowers of garlic chives.

 

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Flowers and Bees More Abundant When Lawns Mowed Less Often

June 9, 2016

Susannah B. Lerman et al. tested different lawn mowing frequencies to try to improve bee habitat and promote ecosystem services for households. They assigned 17 suburban yards in Springfield, Mass., to be mowed every one, two or three weeks. They documented 110 bee species - nearly one-third of the state's species - in Springfield lawns. Yards mowed every three weeks averaged 300 percent more flowers than those mowed weekly. Bees were most abundant in yards mowed every two weeks, although species richness did not differ among mowing treatments. Soils in yards mowed every three weeks were the least compacted, possibly offering more nesting opportunities for some ground-nesting bees. FMI: "To mow or to mow less: How landscaping behaviors influence bee diversity and ecosystem services in residential yards," by Susannah B. Lerman et al., Abstract, Ecological Science at the Frontier conference, Aug. 14, 2015; http://eco.confex.com/eco/2015/webprogram/Paper50775.html

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Value Your Dandelions

May 14, 2015

Did you know that dandelions "are one of the first pollen/nectar sources during the whole growing season," according to New York state farmer Steve Gilman, who spoke at one of MOFGA's Farmer to Farmer Conferences years ago? One researcher "found 93 different species of insects that feed on that pollen/nectar," he added. "The preponderance of those was beneficial insects." Dandelions also serve as overwintering habitat for mycorrhizal fungi - beneficial fungi that associate with plant roots and help take up, conserve and use water and nutrients. So enjoy these bright signs of spring if they pop up in your yard! If you don't want them to get out of hand, mow your lawn high (above 2-1/2 inches) and mow before dandelions go to seed.

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