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  • Published
    July 7, 2010

    Ready for zucchini

    Jokes about giant zucchinis aside, this crop is as productive and easy as the many recipes for its use. Three plants are enough for our small family. I start mine indoors from seed about three weeks before the last spring frost and then transplant one to the hoophouse for early production, and plant two others outside for extended production. The key to growing zucchini, of course, is to keep picking the …

  • Published
    June 9, 2010

    Fowl talk at Small Farm Field Day

    The Small Farm Field Day held at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity in late May offered a wealth of information and inspiration for those who want to raise fowl. In an amusing and informative presentation, Dana Manchester of Shady Hollow Farm in Morrill ( described the care and behavior of guinea fowl, a term that includes guinea …

  • Published
    May 19, 2010

    Nasturtiums for fragrance and food

    Nasturtiums love my little hoophouse, and I love growing them in there. Last year I grew them up the inside east and west walls of the hoophouse, where they got some afternoon shade, with tomatoes, bell peppers, Swiss chard and melons keeping them company in the sunnier parts of the 150-square-foot structure. I’ve never seen such happy, productive nasturtiums – nor have I ever noticed so much their rich, sweet …

  • Published
    May 12, 2010

    Hosta: much more than a funky shade plant

    Hosta, named for Austrian botanist Nicholas Host, is also known as plantain lily and, my favorite, funkia, after the German doctor Heinrich Christian Funck. Native to Japan, Korea, China and eastern Russia, hostas come in dozens of species and thousands of cultivars and hybrids. They are easy to propagate by division (ideally in spring, before foliage emerges; but just about any time during the growing season …

  • Published
    April 28, 2010

    Seed pumpkins now for fall pies

    Pumpkins (and winter squash), although they ultimately become sizable, tough-looking plants, are somewhat delicate in their early days. They are not frost-hardy, so should not be set in the garden until after the danger of the last spring frost has passed — mid- to late May for most of our area. They are long-season crops, requiring all the warm and hot, frost-free days they can get to mature a good crop in …

  • Published
    April 14, 2010

    Cover crops and green manures protect and enhance soil

    Got a bare patch of garden space where you want to protect or even enhance the soil? Cover crops and green manures are one way to do this. Cover crops are plants that are grown to protect soil from erosion and protect existing nutrients in the soil from leaching during rains and snow melt. They may or may not be incorporated into the soil later. Green manures are incorporated into the soil while they are still …

  • Published
    March 31, 2010

    Make a garden bed

    Growing vegetables in beds is a good way to maximize the amount of food you produce in a given area. Beds can be densely planted because they don’t have paths through them; the soil in the bed can be built up with compost and organic nutrients over time to produce vegetables abundantly; and the soil won’t be compacted, so plants will grow larger — and may even resist pests more. At a recent Maine Organic …

  • Published
    March 17, 2010

    A low-tech, scissors and paper garden planning tool

    My last Growing Points column listed U.S. Department of Agriculture data showing how many pounds of various vegetables, on average, each U.S. consumer ate per year. Having these numbers — and adjusting them to reflect your own likes and dislikes — can help you plan your own vegetable garden, but you need a little more data for that plan. You need to know the recommended row spacing for growing different vegetables…

  • Published
    March 4, 2010

    How many pounds of veggies can your garden grow?

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture cites a figure of 420.1 pounds for U.S. per-capita vegetable consumption in 2008 and gives the figures in the table below for per-capita use, in pounds (farm weight), of selected commercially produced fresh and processed vegetables and melons for that year. (See This figure suggests that a gardener who grows about 400 pounds of …

  • Published
    February 21, 2010

    Saving seeds

    Completing my seed order this year made me think: I’ve got to find time to save more seed of more plants this summer and fall; and I’ve got to do a better job of storing any seed, purchased or saved from the garden, so that it retains its viability as long as possible. Not that I’m not getting great value from the seed I order. Less than $4 worth of pole bean seeds should produce more than 150 pounds of beans. …

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