Tag: Crops

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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Yes You Can Grow Figs in Maine

Figs are a subtropical plant from the Mediterranean region and need some special care to flourish in Maine … but it can be done! Easiest is to grow figs in a container and bring it inside in fall after leaf drop. Maintain dormancy by keeping the plants between 20-50 F. Unheated cellars work great. Potting

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Soil-less Mixes for Vegetable Seedling Production

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Soil-less mixes were developed 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

By Eric Sideman, Ph.D., Doug Fox, M.S., and Jean English, Ph.D. Revised February 2016 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 No synthetic

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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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Composting in the Back Yard or on a Small Farm

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Composting is a natural, biological process in which microorganisms use organic materials as food and leave a residue of digested organic matter that is almost completely decomposed. Composting is the same as the decomposition that happens to all living things when they die, except that you control

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An Introduction to the Physical Nature of Soils

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Benefits of Composting The soil is a complex and dynamic system of living and nonliving components. In natural ecosystems, minerals cycle from living back to non-living components, while organic matter levels remain relatively constant as deposits of organic matter (from falling leaves, for example) balance decomposition. In

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Ridge Tillage at Hackmatack Farm

By Nicolas LindholmPhotos and illustrations by Nicolas Lindholm Ridge tillage as we practice it at Hackmatack Farm is a system of growing vegetable crops in raised ridges formed before planting. Essential to this system is incorporation of winterkilled cover crops and other organic matter into the top surface layer of soil as we form the

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