23 early spring vegetable crops

four season harvestMany 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 on the gardening season through the use of row-covers and mini hoop-houses.  And there are lots of crops that will not only grow in cooler temperatures, but some actually prefer it. Read more

How to build a mini hoop-house

mini hoop-houseI’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 also to get a jump on the 2013 growing season. Read more

Maintaining your garden tools

It’s this time of year, when we’re thinking about gardening but it’s still too early to get down and dirty, that I take the time to perform some TLC on my garden tools. I know of many gardeners who never even think about it, but it really is another crucial part of your annual preparations.

Check out this video to learn more about how to take good care of your equipment.

Managing beetles in the organic garden

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 another living creature–that’s why I utilize companion planting, crop rotation, and practice tolerance of other species.  Even still, at times when nature threatens to overtake the food I’ve grown for human consumption, leaving me with nothing, I must take action.  To avoid injustice to the innocent, I take measures to reduce the numbers of only the troublesome population. 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 beetles.  Within 48 hours of transplanting my vining crops (cucumbers, squashes, melons, and pumpkins) the cucumber beetles had discovered the veritable feast I’d laid out for them. 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 my neck in research, studying pollinators and how to promote them.  The Xerces Society offers a myriad of free resources and articles on their site, and I even went so far as to order their book “Attracting Native Pollinators”, which is an incredible resource.  They offer the short-course at locations around the country, but at the time there were no scheduled visits to Maine, so I submitted my name to their notification list and this year I got the word. 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 classmates from the 2011 Master Gardener’s course. Read more

When disaster strikes

Disaster struck Runamuk yesterday.

There had been a hard frost Saturday night.  When I went out Sunday morning to check on my tomato and pepper seedlings in the second grow house, every muscle in my body turned to jell-o, and I began to tingle all over. All of those precious seedlings were damaged by the frost. Limp, wet leaves and shriveled stems met my gaze as I peered into that plastic-covered grow tunnel. Read more

Seed-potato pick up in Newport

I received an email postcard from The Maine Potato Lady the other day informing me that my seed-potato order was ready for pick up at their warehouse. So yesterday I loaded the two boys in the car with provisions, and drove nearly an hour over to Newport (no small feat with my boys) to pick them up. With our small car, I figured it would be cheaper to make the drive than to pay for delivery of the 20 pounds of bulky potatoes. Read more