Category Archives: Gardening

8 tips for growing your own seedlings

tips-for-growing-your-own-seedlings

Growing your own seedlings is not hard to do and opens the door to new opportunities for the home gardener, homesteader or small farmer. You’ll have a vast number of varieties available to choose from, more control over the amount of seed you purchase, and you’ll save money by growing your plants yourself. Starting your own plants gives you the chance… Read more »

2016 Year-End Review

runamuk-apiary-bees-on-a-hive

A full rotation of the Earth around the sun has brought us once again to the end of the calendar year. It’s been a busy year for Runamuk, with some ups and some downs too, and some life altering moments. Before we shift our focus to 2017 and all that the new year may bring our way I’d like to take… Read more »

Zipties on a weed-whacker: an experiment

weed-whacker experiment

Maybe you’ve seen the post going around facebook that shows a homesteader using zipties on his weed-whacker instead of the spool of weed-eater line? This post came across my facebook feed last week and seemed like an ingenious idea, so this weekend as I worked in the garden I gave it a try to see if it really works. I… Read more »

Garden Update

Blanching Peas_FI

With the sowing of green beans on Friday, the garden is finally complete. If I weren’t moving this fall it wouldn’t be “done”, I would continue with succession sowings, planning for fall crops and cold-frames to carry us into the winter with hardy greens. But things being what they are, the green beans are it for this year. The garden… Read more »

Feeding ourselves

Bass FI

The season is well underway here at Runamuk, much as it is on farms across Maine. Trees are budding, pastures are greening up, and I am lulled to sleep each night by a chorus of randy frog-song out my window. And now that the dandelion bloom is underway, I can breathe a sigh of relief and count my blessings; four… Read more »

Favorite things from the farmers and gardeners at Johnny’s Seeds

Favorite Things FIsm

How could any beginning farmer go into a company like Johnny’s Selected Seeds, find themselves surrounded by a spectrum of farmers and gardeners and not want to pick their brains for useful bits of information? I already knew what I wanted to ask when I finally bucked up the nerve to approach colleagues at work for this series of articles. And… Read more »

Companion planting made easy

plant companions in the garden

It was my father in-law who first introduced me to the concept of companion planting, as we discussed gardening, and he sagely shared the secret of planting marigolds with tomatoes in order to repel nematodes.  I remember wondering what other plants could be grown among my crops to aid in the health of the garden, and then I wondered why… Read more »

Garden planning for beginners

garden planning for beginners

An expression of art and science, gardening is a practice that dates back to the start of civilization, and is both creative and economical.  With the ever-increasing trend towards green and sustainable living, gardening is enjoying a resurgence–if you’ve been considering taking up the habit, I hope this is your year!  If you’ve been toying with the idea of gardening… Read more »

7 foods you can easily grow indoors this winter

kitchen windowsill herb garden

Now that the balmy days of summer are behind us, and the time to tuck in for the long cold of winter has come–I like to play around with growing different foods inside my house.  The gardening season may be over, but providing fresh and nutritious foods for family meals is a never-ending task, and though I am not yet… Read more »

Dealing with hornworms in the organic garden

tobacco hornworm

I don’t know whether I hadn’t had an infestation of hornworms before, or I just hadn’t noticed them (which seems rather impossible!), but the tobacco hornworms have had a good year this year and there’s no avoiding them.  One day all your beautiful tomato and pepper plants are healthy and fine, and the next–bam! –you’re facing devastation.  My farmer–as I’ve… Read more »

Harvesting garlic

curing garlic

Since this was my first time growing garlic, I was pretty stoked to go and dig up the bulbs earlier this week.  I’d planted the garlic cloves back in October (you can read about that endeavor here).  I mulched them heavily with dry leaves and watched over them all winter. This spring I pulled up about two-thirds of the mulch,… Read more »

Do NOT buy ladybugs; attract native species to your garden instead

ladybugs as predators

Ladybugs are often touted as a safe solution to aphid problems in the garden because their use doesn’t involve harmful pesticides.  The little spotted beetles are popular all over the world, and in ancient times they were thought to be indicators of good fortune and a bountiful harvest. However commercially available ladybugs are not native to the US, and pose… Read more »

Home gardeners beware of pesticides in potting soils & nursery plants

This past Tuesday at the monthly meeting of the Somerset Beekeepers, we hosted Gary Fish from the Maine Board of Pesticide Control to talk with us about “Pesticides and Pollinators”.  We are a small group, so I’m always grateful that any knowledgeable speaker should come to Skowhegan to share their knowledge with us, and I know that our beekeepers are… Read more »

Growin’ good!

These are the lettuces I planted a few weeks back.  They’re looking really great.  Here you can see the soaker hose I’d laid in this bed for the day, to give everything a good watering.  And if you look closely, you can see the new lettuce sprouts I planted between these heads to ensure a successive harvest.  We love our… Read more »

Hardening seedlings in a mini hoop-house

After the devastation of last year’s seedling fiasco (read about that here), I was more than a little anxious about hardening off my seedlings this year. My mini hoop-houses (more about that here) have been working so well this spring that I decided to construct something similar to protect my tender tomato and pepper seedlings during their hardening off period. … Read more »

Sustainability through the family garden

I managed to set up 2 mini hoop-houses and planted a number of lettuce seedlings, yet April was a cold and windy start to the gardening season that left me longing for more.  So far May has made up for it in spades!  I’ve been out in the garden practically every day for the last week, working on preparing one… Read more »

23 early spring vegetable crops

Many American gardeners cling fast to the idea that the growing season doesn’t begin until Memorial Day weekend. Yet in Europe gardeners use a variety of methods to extend their season and increase their garden’s harvest. Thanks to Elliot Coleman’s book Four Season Harvest, more and more Americans are discovering the possibilities.  Even in Maine you can get a jump… Read more »

How to build a mini hoop-house

I’m a big fan of season extenders like cold-frames and mini hoop-houses for the family garden. Last year I managed to erect a mini greenhouse of sorts, using PVC and plastic, and with that I hardened off my seedlings in anticipation of the growing season.  This year I not only want to use that method to protect tender seedlings, but… Read more »

Managing beetles in the organic garden

beetle control

If you miss the chance to take preventative action, such as in applying neem oil to the leaves and stems of your tomato plants–all in not lost.  In the organic garden, keeping up with the pests who would make a meal of your crops is a never-ending chore.  I go to great lengths to avoid having to cause harm to… Read more »

The beetles are coming! the beetles are coming!

japanese beetles

Now that the  bulk of the spring planting is behind us, I’ve turned my eye to the up-keep of the gardens.  That includes all of the weeding that comes with gardening, as well as combating the insects that would make a meal of my tender seedlings and vegetables.  With the arrival of the summertime heat comes the onslaught of the… Read more »

Pollinator Conservation at MOFGA

hoverfly

Keith said I had a glazed look in my eyes as we sat in the conference room at the MOFGA educational facility in Unity yesterday. I was high on the excitement and pure joy of participating in the Pollinator Conservation Planning Short-Course offered by the Xerces Society. I first learned about the course last year when I was up to… Read more »

Growin’ Good

Things are growing good here at the Runamuk micro-farm and the spring garden is well on it’s way. Our first delivery of “super-loam” from Lynch Landscaping in Skowhegan, Maine arrived Monday evening and I was so happy I could have rolled around in that beautiful stuff!  And wouldn’t you know it–the man who delivered the soil was one of my… Read more »