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  • Published
    August 30, 2012

    Gather ye organic matter while ye may

    The tomato, bean, zucchini, blueberry, etc. harvest is in full swing now — and so is the organic matter harvest. If you want to depend as little as possible on outside sources to add nutrients and organic matter to your soil, start saving… Grass clippings — A mower that collects grass clippings can add an abundance of organic matter to your garden quickly. Each time you mow your lawn — assuming you don’t use …

  • Published
    August 16, 2012

    Tomato tips

    A day-long workshop on tomatoes at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association last spring brought up some tips that should help plantings produce more and longer, and with less disease. These tips came from MOFGA and Cooperative Extension staff and a few growers.• Plant tomatoes in a well-drained, non-compacted soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8 – ideally closer to 6.8, for better taste. Try to have 4 to …

  • Published
    August 2, 2012

    Avena Botanicals’ tranquil and productive gardens thrive

    Avena Botanicals on Mill Street in West Rockport has been a favorite site for gardeners and herbal enthusiasts to visit for decades. Now in its 28th year, the business, started and owned by Deb Soule, features a three-acre garden where visitors are enveloped by lush plants grown according to organic and biodynamic standards, and by the buzz of bees enjoying those plants, the darting of hummingbirds, the dances of …

  • Published
    July 19, 2012

    Garden giant mushrooms

    The wet spring was tough on vine crops but good for at least one crop: mushrooms. Not that I am an expert à la Greg Marley or David Spahr, Mainers whose books I highly recommend. But I did get “The Garden Giant Mushroom Patch” kit from Fungi Perfecti ( in Olympia, Wash., for Christmas last winter, and now we are reaping the benefits — in omelets, on pizza, over rice, with organic hamburgers. The …

  • Published
    July 5, 2012

    An abundance of chard — and some recipes

    Swiss chard is a workhorse in the garden. Easy to grow and prolific, it thrives almost regardless of conditions — even in the downpours we’ve had this growing season. Last year I planted chard in August and covered it in November with low hoops and plastic. It was sitting there waiting for us in March. Now the March-sown crop is thriving in an open garden bed, and there’s no shortage of greens to accompany almost …

  • Published
    June 21, 2012

    Beneficial insects in the garden

    Ladybugs like a lot of real estate, say researchers at Michigan State University. Megan Woltz, a Ph.D. student there, found that planting strips of non-crop plants (buckwheat, in this case) near soybean fields did attract ladybugs — to the buckwheat. “We always found way more ladybugs in the buckwheat than are usually in field edges,” says Woltz at ~ “Unfortunately, all of the ladybugs in the buckwheat did little …

  • Published
    June 7, 2012

    Yellow flag: lovely but dangerous

    The pretty, yellow-flowered Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag or European yellow iris) is spreading in a damp area of our field. That’s not good. This non-native perennial that grows from 1 to 3 or 4 feet tall and flowers from May to July has escaped from cultivation in many parts of Canada and the United States, spreading by seed and rhizomes to the point that it can be weedy or even invasive. It’s gone a long way …

  • Published
    May 24, 2012

    Goldenseal: A valuable herb worth cultivating

    Seeing goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) in flower was a highlight of an April 30 trip to Avena Botanicals Biodynamic Gardens in Rockport. This perennial woodland plant, native to the deciduous forests of eastern North America, is a spring treat to see in flower, potentially growing in areas that also support trillium, Solomon’s seal, blue cohosh, spikenard and Jack-in-the-pulpit. A member of the buttercup family …

  • Published
    May 11, 2012

    The mystery and misery of the missing peas

    A gardener tells me he planted peas and not one sprouted. Where did his peas go? They could have gone to the birds, maggots, fungi, wireworms, cutworms or earthworms. It’s a big pea-cycle out there, especially in a cool, wet soil or a warm, wet soil. We often read that we should plant peas as soon as the soil can be worked, but if that soil is cold and wet (and if it’s poorly drained as well), pea seeds can rot — …

  • Published
    April 28, 2012

    Grow a garden of storage crops

    The average U.S. person consumes 420 pounds of vegetables per year, according to USDA figures. Almost 40 percent of those — about 164 pounds — are crops that are fairly easy to grow and to store well into winter and even spring. So this is a good time to plan your garden so that you grow enough of those storage crops for your consumption, and to start thinking about good places to store these crops.Here’s the …

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