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  • Published
    January 4, 2013

    A new year, a new commitment to local and organic

    The last time I heard Russell Libby speak — at the Farmer to Farmer Conference in Northport, put on by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association in November — he talked about building our local, organic food system. A month later, this renowned leader in the organic movement, and MOFGA’s executive director, died. It’s up to us to build that local, organic system, Libby said at Farmer to Farmer, “because ...

  • Published
    December 20, 2012

    Last-minute gifts for gardeners

    Local is always a great way to shop, and with one weekend to go before Christmas, local is also convenient for last-minute gifts. Avena Botanicals has several boxed gift, available at ~ or by visiting Avena’s shop at 219 Mill St. in Rockport Mondays through Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. — although the shop will be closing for the holidays on Dec. 21 and reopening on Jan . 2. I put my own gift sets together for friends, ...

  • Published
    December 14, 2012

    Garden books: Some select choices for giving or receiving

    Wrong size, wrong color, wrong style, wrong shape…or any other wrong you can imagine…it’s what’s wrong with shopping for holiday gifts. If the “wrongs” have got you wringing your hands and gnashing your teeth, relax. For any gardener on your list, and just in time for last-minute shopping, here are a handful of unique and simply-delightful holiday books choices (including one for the youngest gardeners on your ...

  • Published
    December 7, 2012

    The epigenetics of eating

    The holidays give us plenty of opportunity to give and get foods that may not be so good for us but taste wonderful. Christmas cookies, gifts of chocolate, pies galore… At the same time, we’re all exposed to potentially harmful environmental chemicals. Can we eat our way to health, given the temptations and contaminations in our world? We can try. According to Washington State University professor Gary Meadows, ...

  • Published
    November 30, 2012

    Christmas trees from bygone days to future ones

    It’s in the air, as well as the shops. The holiday season is already everywhere, and that means Christmas trees will soon be up and ready for trimming. Oh Tannenbaum! or Oh Christmas tree! — no matter how you sing it, the green tree that provides the centerpiece of our holiday decorating has a long and distinguished history around the globe, and was initially popularized by royalty. And oh the fragrance! Doesn’t ...

  • Published
    November 23, 2012

    The A and P of favorite herbs

    So many herbs can be used medicinally that it can be difficult to narrow down the choices. Here are ten that I find especially useful. Some, such as elderberry and echinacea, can be tinctured now and given as holiday gifts. Aloe vera: Every kitchen windowsill should have a pot of this plant, to help skin heal quickly after you burn yourself on the oven racks or other kitchen equipment — although Lorie Costigan of ...

  • Published
    November 19, 2012

    Hey, Sherlock, come take a look at my houseplants

    Opportunistic, sneaky little parasites — no, I am not referring to your in-laws but rather those insect pests and diseases that hitchhike indoors with potted plants that vacationed outdoors during the summer. However, oddly much like those in-laws there’s a scourge of the creeps, and many of them look a lot alike. This time of year they can darken your doorstep at the drop of a hat. It did not take long, but ...

  • Published
    November 9, 2012

    Witch hazel for landscape and health

    What a treat to encounter fragrant witch hazel flowers in the autumn woods. The narrow yellow flower petals, miniature streamers, warm the landscape just before winter. Yankee Magazine featured this useful native plant, Hamamelis virginiana, in its Nov./Dec. 2008 issue ~ Hampton, Conn., is “the heart of witch hazel country,” said writer Steve Kemper. In central and eastern Connecticut, from November to April, a ...

  • Published
    October 26, 2012

    Bringing in, covering up the crops

    The frost has zapped the tomatoes but the cool season crops are still going — as are a few pepper plants that I dug, potted and brought indoors to keep going until their fruits ripen. How long can those outdoor spinach, lettuce, carrot, celery, kale and chard plants go? Some, if protected, should last through winter, not really growing but not dying either during the coldest parts of December to February. Come ...

  • Published
    October 12, 2012

    Planning the edible landscape for high yield

    Nursery catalogs for the 2013 planting season are coming out now, so this is a good time to plan and order. If you’re thinking of increasing the amount of food your landscape produces, the Fedco Trees catalog has a useful table on pages 50 and 51 (at ~ showing which of its offerings produce edible or medicinal parts – and which are native, which tolerate wet, dry or shady places, and other characteristics. ...

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