Tag: Crops

Garden Beets 

By Will Bonsall There’s nothing new about beets. They’re among the oldest vegetables cultivated by humans. The ancient Greeks esteemed them, starting with their wild ancestor, Beta vulgaris spp. maritima (still found growing wild on the Adriatic littoral). They eventually bred them into the sweet and succulent food we enjoy today. In much more modern

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The Ubiquitous Tomato

By Will Bonsall Probably no single food has entrenched itself in the many cuisines of the world as much as the tomato. Before Europeans discovered the New World (that is, it was a first for THEM), this vegetable-fruit was restricted to the frost-free regions of Central America, where it can still be found growing wild. It was slow

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Sunlight and Water in the Garden: Two Limiting Factors Not to be Overlooked

By Caleb Goossen, MOFGA’s Crop and Conservation Specialist A foundational principle in agricultural sciences is “the law of the minimum,” which states that plant growth is not limited by the sum total of resources available, but instead is primarily limited by the scarcest resource, also known as the limiting factor. Seemingly all great foundational principles

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Northeast Fellows Trial On-Farm Adaptations to Climate Change

By Holli Cederholm In the past several years, farmers in Maine have struggled to cope with drought, severe precipitation events, excessive wind, temperature extremes and hail storms. Across the world, farmers are on the frontlines of volatile weather caused by climate change. From vegetable and small fruit producers to dairy farmers and forest managers, climate

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Is Organic Farming Contributing to a Plastic Apocalypse?

By David McDaniel I am an organic farmer recovering from a heavy reliance on and addiction to the agricultural plastic needed to make my commercial farm competitive, productive and profitable. I got into organic farming for the noble purpose of working in a vocation that would theoretically pay a livable wage while allowing me to

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Soil-less Mixes for Vegetable Seedling Production

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Farmers developed soil-less mixes for use in containers for seedlings because field soil does not work well. Soil alone is heavy and poorly aerated. It tends to become waterlogged and sticky when wet. Then it shrinks when it dries, pulls away from the container edges and turns

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Providing Nitrogen to Organic Crops

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Nitrogen is usually the nutrient that is in limiting supply, i.e., the limiting factor to crop growth on organic farms. Plants deficient in nitrogen are stunted, yellowish (especially the lower leaves), and have restricted root growth. Plants turn yellow because nitrogen is an integral part of chlorophyll,

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Basics of Organic Vegetable Gardening

Prepared byDr. Eric Sideman andDr. Jean English Introduction The science of gardening is complex, but the actual practice is simple. The central goal of organic gardening is to maintain or improve the ability of the soil to support plant life as it produces a crop of vegetables each year. That ability depends on a dynamic

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Establishing and Caring for an Organic Lawn

The cool climate of Maine favors healthy lawns. The grass will grow lush and with few problems as long as basic plant needs are met, including proper soil fertility, soil structure, soil organic matter and proper watering and mowing You don’t need synthetic pesticides or fertilizers for a quality lawn, and such synthetic chemicals can

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Garden Weeds

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Garden weeds are simply plants that are growing where you do not want them. Any plant species may be a weed, but in gardens in New England, there are some species that are very common. And, in some gardens, very common is an understatement. Why do some

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