Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Organic Gardening Tips

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Crop Rotation as a Fall Garden Chore

November 12, 2020

“The first fall chore is to begin planning where you will plant crops next year based on problems you had this year,” Eric Sideman says in his article “The Best-Laid Fall Plans Lead Pests Astray” in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. For those with multiple gardens, your “strongest tool” is crop rotation. By rotating crops that act as hosts for pests, you can hopefully put some distance between your crop and the problem. Sideman presents three criteria about pests to help determine whether or not rotation will help. Read more here.

Find Inspiration at the Exhibition Hall

November 5, 2020

For gardeners, growers, seed savers and eaters, the Common Ground Country Fair Exhibition Hall provides delight in the year’s harvest and inspiration to take home for next year’s season. This year growers throughout the state sent in photographs of their crops for our virtual Exhibition Hall. From houseplants and flowers to fruits and vegetables, there is a bounty to explore. Many entries were grown by school gardens, including the watermelon radishes pictured here; Walker Elementary School in Liberty, Maine, won a Judge’s Award for their submission. When sliced, this open-pollinated winter radish reveals a bright pink interior similar to that of its namesake, the watermelon. Browse the Hall here.

Fall Garden Cleanup

October 29, 2020

As you’re putting your garden to bed for winter, you may be wondering about what plant debris to clean up and what to leave behind. “Protecting the soil is the guiding rule, but all rules may be broken given a good enough reason to do so – such as weeds, insects or diseases that may wipe out your crops,” writes Eric Sideman, Ph.D, in “Fall Cleanup, or Not?” in the fall 2013 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Read more here.

Try Common Ground Recipes at Home

September 24, 2020

In her column “Kids in the Kitchen” in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Roberta Bailey writes about past Common Ground Country Fair times with her kids. “When they were young, for a few years we did a Country Kitchen demo together called Kids in the Kitchen. We made bumps on a log and scrambled eggs and tiger candy – sweetened peanut butter balls with dried fruit and coconut, all rolled in carob powder. When they were a bit older, we had a booth in the farmers’ market called the Kids and Moms booth. We shared it with another mom and their two friends. The moms sold fiber art and the kids sold gourds, clothespin dolls, corn necklaces, cutting boards and a score of odd inspirations.” Bailey shares recipes from that time in her column. Enjoy!

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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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Time for Zucchini Patties

August 6, 2020

Here's one way to enjoy some of summer's abundant zucchini. Mix 4 or so cups of grated zucchini and one chopped onion with three eggs. Add 1/2 to 1 cup grated Parmesan, 2 cups seasoned panko bread crumbs and a couple of squirts of barbecue sauce. Let the mixture sit for half an hour. Form the mixture into patties and fry in butter or oil. Serve with fresh corn on the cob and a salad and/or potato salad. Freeze any leftover patties for winter, when you'll think fondly of summer zucchini.

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Growing Cannabis at Home

July 9, 2020

Legislation passed in 2016 and amended in 2018 allows Maine adults to grow up to three flowering cannabis plants per adult in the household for personal use on their land. In his article “Why Grow Cannabis at Home,” John Jemison of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension writes about why he grows cannabis, how cannabinoids affect the body, and how to grow the plant in your own garden. “Cannabis is easy to grow (it is called weed), but like potatoes, it is hard to grow well,” he says. Read more in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Cranberries – Don't Assume You Can't Grow Them

June 25, 2020

Most folks think of cranberries as a crop with requirements that are too challenging for their situation. Cranberries like sandy, acidic, soggy peat soils that can be flooded at will, whereas the average gardener has (or aspires to have) a well-drained, marl, near-neutral soil with sufficient nitrogen-containing humus. Will Bonsall found, however, that the crop is not quite that picky. The summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener relates his experiences with growing this plant in a low spot in the landscape.

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Beautiful and Useful Calendula

June 18, 2020

There are so many reasons to plant a big bed of calendula, Calendula officinalis. It blooms until frost for cut flowers and medicine, it isn’t fussy about where it’s planted, pollinators like it, it can be added as a garnish to food, and its seed is easy to save for next year’s planting. Read Joyce White’s article “Calendula – Beautiful and Useful” in the summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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Mulch Apple Trees with Wood Chips

May 21, 2020

John Bunker says that he chips all prunings and branches from his newly cut firewood and spreads them around the base of apple trees as mulch. “I’m fooling the trees into thinking they’re in the woods,” he writes, adding, “Can you really fool a tree into anything?” Trees like the forest, Bunker continues, “and the forest floor is not that different from a bed of wood chips. The chips break down and feed those trees.” Read more in “Spring Orchard ‘Work,’ and then, Ice Cream” in the spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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