FREE Pruning Workshop This Weekend!

You know spring can’t be too far away when I’m talking about pruning! My first pruning workshop for 2017 is this coming Saturday (February 25th).
 
I thought as a bit of a teaser to the workshop, I would throw in a half dozen true or false pruning questions. Let’s see how you do.
 

  1. Birch and maple trees should only be pruned in late spring so that they don’t "bleed".
  2. When trees are threatening to grow into power lines "topping" the tree is the best strategy.
  3. Nice, clean, cuts close to the trunk are best to ensure the wound heals properly.
  4. Apple trees should only be pruned in the early spring.
  5. Don’t prune roses because you will cut-off the flower buds.
  6. Always remove top growth on a tree to balance root growth when transplanting.

 
If you answered False to all of these questions, you are correct. There are many myths surrounding tree pruning and I will explain the truth behind pruning so that you know how to tackle the pruning jobs in your yard, and also when it is best to leave it to the pros.
 
Pruning is one of my most popular workshops so be sure to register early. See you on Saturday!

~Jim Hole

Fashionistas Rejoice!

Beautifully chic with a touch of elegance, we are now carrying tops and purses by Simply Noelle!

Whether you need a top for that dinner party, or something more relaxed for that walk along the Sturgeon—whatever the occasion—Simply Noelle will have the look for you.

All tops are made of either cotton or polyester, which feel soft to the touch and beautiful quality finish.

Purses are also available in different sizes and colors and are all made of vegan leather and offer beautiful inside lining. Great for any occasion!

All items are available for purchase at Hole’s Greenhouses near the checkouts.

So come on over and visit us while items are still available!

Simply beautiful, simply affordable, Simply Noelle.

simple-noelle-purse

Gardening For The Complete Novice

When I was a kid growing up on the farm, Dad would send me in to town to pick up parts for our equipment. I hated that job.
 
It’s not that I didn’t like mechanical things, because I did, but whenever I picked-up a part, I dreaded the conversation with the parts guy. Nine times out of ten, I felt stupid and embarrassed because I didn’t have a clue about what all the "parts lingo" meant.
 
Once I got older and gained some experience and knowledge with mechanical things, I could hold my own at the parts desk, but I learned a valuable lesson on how to treat people who are novices in a particular field.
 
For those who are new to the world of plants I know that Latin names, fertilizer ratios, and bugs are just some of the things that scare people who have never gardened. As a result, I will be offering workshops for those who feel a bit intimidated about trying to grow plants for the first time.
 
So, if you don’t know the first thing about a seed, soil or fertilizer, my plan is to help you feel comfortable with entering into the plant world.
 
So if you have ever felt like I did at the parts department make sure that you sign up for "Gardening For Complete Novices".

Who knows, it could be a stepping stone to a career in horticulture!


~Jim Hole

Starting Seeds Indoors

I’ve had a few questions from people who are coming to this weekend’s workshop on "Starting Seeds Indoors".  It seems that the two most common questions everyone wants answered are:
 
"When do I start my seeds indoors?" and "How do I keep my seedlings from getting stretched and floppy?"
 
The simple answer to these questions is that you need to understand a bit about the growth habits of the seed that you are sowing and how temperature, light, and water affect the seeds and seedlings.
 
This weekend we are going to get into the "minds" of seed and I’m going to explain how seeds perceive their growing environment and how they react to it. Once you understand what makes seed "tick" it is pretty easy to start seeds indoors and grow great seedlings.
 
I like the step by step approach for starting seeds indoors so my game plan is to lay out all of the steps and materials required to get from the start line (seeds in a package) to the finish line (healthy, vibrant seedlings).
 
At last count we had close to 3000 seed varieties in our garden centre – the largest selection in the region – so I won’t be going through the idiosyncrasies of every variety but I will tackle many of the most popular types of seed.
 
Hope to see you this weekend!


~Jim Hole

Starting Seeds

February 4th is the kick-off for my first seminar of the season! In fact, we are listing all of the Free Gardening Talks for the next 3 months.
 
This year, I’ve increased the number of sessions that I am offering due to the popularity of last year’s sessions. The first session on the 4th is all about getting seeds started indoors for the spring season that is approaching quickly.
 
I’m going to cover all of the basics for ensuring that you get your plants off to a great start and answer burning questions like:

  • Which are the best containers – plastic or fibre?
  • What is the best seedling soil mix?
  • Can I use garden soil?
  • What are heat mats and how do I use them?
  • What are the best grow lights for my seedlings?
  • Do I need to add fertilizer to my mix?
  • When do I start sowing seed indoors?

 
Now, if you have never grown a thing in your life, don’t worry about it. I will take you through all the steps to ensure that you have success. If you have any specific questions about seeds, sowing or anything else for that matter, I’ll be happy to answer all of them.
 
 January is almost gone…spring is only a few snow drifts away!

~Jim Hole
 

Spring Is Here!

OK, I might have jumped the gun just a bit, but I can’t help but get excited about spring because all of our garden seed has arrived and is on the floor. And there is nothing quite like shelves full of colourful seed packages for inciting a good dose of spring fever.
 
Now if you think that it is too early to buy seeds, you’re correct – well, sort of. True, there are only a select few varieties that should be started indoors in January, but the main problem with not buying seeds early is that some sell-out very quickly.

Every year, I talk to many gardeners who don’t start buying their seeds until March and April and are disappointed that some of their favourites are already sold-out.
 
And it seems that sold-out vegetables and fruits cause the greatest disappointment. For example, specific varieties of tomatoes like Mortgage Lifter, Stupice and Black Krim or "superfoods" like Kale or novelty vegetables like golden beets and corn salad (mache) top the list.

The strategy for avoiding disappointment is simple: Get the seeds early and hang on to them until you are ready to sow. All types of seed will store just fine provided you keep them in a dry spot that is not excessively warm.
 
I often get questions about whether or not seed is damaged if it is frozen. The quick answer is that seed – even seeds of hot weather crops like squash, cucumbers and melons – is not damaged by subzero temperatures.  But never store any seed in your refrigerator. It’s not cold that is a problem, rather it’s moisture inside the fridge that is not good for longevity and viability.
 
One last word on storing seed. Watch for rodents. Mice absolutely love corn and cucumber seed.
 
Years ago we overwintered a 50lb bag of corn seed and a 20lb bag of cucumber seed in our shed. Come spring, there wasn’t a single seed of either vegetable left to plant. We assumed the shed was well sealed and rodent-proof but the mice managed to ‘break-in’ and enjoy a delicious feast.
 
I’ve since learned to never underestimate the ingenuity and adaptability of hungry mice. Keep all of your seed in sealed containers wherever you are planning on storing it.

~Jim Hole

Half Empty/Half Full

Next week is the "glass half full – glass half empty" time of the year for plants.

This year, December 21st is the day with the least amount of sunlight that can find its way into your home – the day being sunny, of course.
 
 But by the 22nd, the days start getting longer and your houseplants can begin to enjoy a few extra "photons" of light with each advancing day. Granted, the journey to longer days is measured in seconds and minutes during December and January but the days do get longer.
 
That’s the glass half full part of the equation. The glass half empty side is that we are faced with a couple of months of days with very little sunlight.
 
So what do you do? There are a couple of strategies. First, move your plants closer to the window, if at all possible. You need to be aware of heat vents that pump-out leaf-dessicating, desert-dry air that will turn leaves from green to brown in no time at all.
 
But even if you manage to dance around the heat vents, the amount of sunlight that hits your plants, at this time of year, is still miserably low.
 
Grow lights are the solution to offsetting any deficiencies in sunlight. Heck, with enough grow lights you could grow coconuts in your house! Granted, you’d need an incredibly tall house, a huge pot, and a blinding array of grow lights but at least the science is solid.
 
Coming back down to earth, a more pragmatic approach would be to choose plants that can endure the shortest days of winter in good shape. Here is my list of tropical plants that are the toughest of the bunch: Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema), ZZ Plant, Sanseveria, and Cast Iron Plant.

All of these plants will grow better with more light (indirect) but they hold their own remarkably well during the short days of winter. Chinese evergreen and Sanseveria have beautiful variegated foliage, whereas both ZZ and Cast Iron are solid green.
 
The toughest of the tough is the Cast Iron plant followed very closely by the ZZ and Sanseveria.
 
Given that it is the holiday season, you might wonder where the venerable poinsettia fits into the low light days of winter scenario. Pretty darn good, in fact. A poinsettia must have high light levels during production, but once it has flowered, it doesn’t need to generate any additional growth. All that it requires – light wise – is some sunlight during the day to keep its green leaves from falling off. If your poinsettia is near a window during the day, it will look fabulous for weeks to come.
 
To be honest, I’m neither a glass half full nor a glass half empty kind of guy during Christmas.
 
 On Christmas day, I prefer my glass completely full, thank-you very much.

~Jim Hole

More Than A Gift

A nurse from the U of A Hospital came to see me about her orchid. This orchid was particularly special because it was a gift from my son and daughter-in-law one Christmas to thank her for the wonderful care my 3-year old grandson had received when he was in the hospital.
 
This same orchid, still thriving 15 years later, was growing well but desperately needed to be repotted. She was terrified to transplant it herself because she didn’t want to kill it.
As we talked some more, she told me that she cherished this particular plant because it was a reminder of the good she tries to do every day.
 
I remember a woman who brought in a tired looking peace lily that she wanted us to help her repot and clean up.  She had given it to her mother many years ago when her mom was moved into an assisted living home. Her mother had diligently cared for it every day. When mom passed away that peace lily became the one living memory of her mom and she desperately wanted to keep it.
 
Plants are unique gifts. They don't get put in closets, or eaten, or forgotten.
They can remain in a home or office for years, requiring only simple, regular care.
 
Plants can be more than just a gift. They can be symbols of love, affection and gratitude. They respond to care and nurture, and over the years, plants can become a cherished reminder of those special people that gave them to us, and the memories we associate with them.


-Lois Hole

A Healthy New Year

I remember receiving an invitation to the home of one of my favourite customers.
 
She invited me to her house after she had decorated her entire home for Christmas because she was so excited for me to see it. When I walked in the door, I was overwhelmed with Christmas decorations in every room, on every wall, shelf, ledge and door. There was a fully decorated, themed Christmas tree in each room of the house. Christmas baking was in small dishes beautifully displayed on her dining room table.
 
Everything was neat, clean, carefully arranged and immaculate which must have taken her weeks to complete. But despite her beautifully decorated home, what immediately caught my attention was the air in the room. It was stuffy, stale and felt very dry. When I looked around the rooms, there was not a single live plant anywhere.
 
I’ve never decorated my home even close to this extent, but I always had poinsettias and many green plants throughout my house. It was not until I visited her home that I realized how poor the air quality was without plants.
 
We can’t live without plants. Plants produce oxygen, clean and retain water and plants form the basis of our entire food chain. They do this very silently and continuously which is often why we tend to forget that pretty little houseplant in the corner of the room is working very hard for us indeed.

Humans use the O2 (oxygen) in the air to breathe and produce CO2 (carbon dioxide) as waste. A plant does the exact opposite. Plants derive their energy from CO2 and produce O2 as waste.
 
Humans also produce other waste, volumes of chemical waste from modern building materials, rugs and fabrics also “breathe” out toxins. Plants also process this waste very effectively, converting our particulate toxins to harmless, usable nutrients for themselves, while simultaneously cleaning the air. What most people don’t know is that, on average, our indoor climate is 5 to 10 times more polluted then the outdoor climate.
 
Plants work in silence, so we tend to forget how valuable they are to our air quality and quality of life. We do not appreciate these quiet, calm plants enough. We would not survive 10 minutes on earth without plants.
 
Our home never felt dry or stuff. My sons did not get many colds or illnesses and the air inside our house always smelled fresh and clean.
 
As soon as I got home I went directly to the greenhouse and picked out the largest poinsettia we had and sent it to her.
 
My Christmas card simply read "Enjoy Christmas and have a HEALTHY and Happy New Year." I also sent some simple care information about plants!

-Lois Hole

Poinsettia Combos

In the "good old days" a poinsettia plant would pretty much stand on its own. You could choose a particular size or colour and, perhaps, dress it up with a bow or a few other "bells and whistles" but the poinsettia was, of course, the dominant feature.
 
Today, individual poinsettias are still popular, but there now there is a trend to partnering poinsettias with other houseplants – typically tropicals – in a larger container. When Christmas is over, the poinsettias are simply pulled from the container and replaced with other houseplants. The result is containers that look fabulous both during Christmas and long after the last snowflake has melted outside.
 
I know, at the greenhouses, we have a hard time keeping up with the demand for these tropical – poinsettia combinations that include ferns, colorful coleus, miniature evergreens, and spider plants that provide a nice "waterfall" effect.
 
Of course, the same care rules apply to these combos as they would to any other houseplant containers. Provide as much bright sunlight as possible during the winter and as much bright, indirect sunlight the rest of the year. Keep the soil moist and provide some 10-4-3 fertilizer when the plants are actively growing. Other than that enjoy the transition from the Christmas season, through spring, summer, fall and right back to Christmas next year – and, hopefully, for years to come!


~Jim Hole

Cleaner Air At Home

Many people are aware of the study that came out of NASA, a number of years ago, about the extraordinary ability of houseplants to clean the air by removing "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs) like formaldehyde and benzene.
 
The research demonstrated that many varieties of houseplants were capable of absorbing and detoxifying a wide range of VOCs. Some houseplants were a bit more efficient at absorbing specific VOCs than were others, but the take home message was that having lots of plants in ones home, would be a great way to reduce VOCs.
 
One interesting outcome of the research on air purifying plants is that the plants couldn’t take all the credit for helping to rid the ones home of VOCs. The potting soil, itself, played a large roll in VOC removal thanks to the millions of beneficial soil microbes – bacteria in particular - contained in each mixture. When the toxins were absorbed by the potting soil, bacteria would dine on the toxins and break them down into harmless compounds.
 
Plants like ferns, draecena, spider plants, and even poinsettias, all do their part to clean the air but they do it in conjunction with good quality potting soil that harbours a healthy population of microbes.
 
At home, next to my kitchen window, I have my Meyer’s lemon tree sitting in a large pot with Boston ferns adorning the soil beneath. I can’t say that I’ve ever measured the VOCs in my kitchen but I know the lemon, ferns and soil are doing their part to keep my air just a bit cleaner.
 
 But to be honest, I didn’t place the lemon/fern combo in my kitchen to combat VOCs. I put it there for its beauty and the joy of watching a tiny green lemon slowly grow into a gorgeous yellow fruit.
 
The fact that the plants and soil are also VOC fighters is just icing on the lemon cake.


~Jim Hole

FREE How-to Holiday Demonstrations

I’m really excited about our Christmas-themed "How-to" demonstrations.
 
If you want to know how to assemble gorgeous wreaths, centerpieces, spectacular "winterscape" planters, or how to make delicious holiday dishes, you don’t want to miss our Dec 3rd and 4th events.
 
Now, I have to confess that I am not the most artistic guy around, so I am leaving the demonstrations to our wonderful design team that includes Dana from Hole’s Floral Studio, Joyce who merchandises all of our beautiful décor items, and Chef Enrique Toldeo from our Glasshouse Bistro.
 
But, I will still be around to do what I think I do best which is to talk about plants – Christmas plants, in particular. I am going to cover the basic "how-tos" of the big four Christmas plants: poinsettias, Christmas cactus, amaryllis, and paperwhites. I’ll discuss what to look for when you purchase these plants and how to keep them looking beautiful in your home or office. And, yes, if you still have those burning questions on tomato plants or apples, I’ll be happy to answer your questions.
 
Here is a sample of common questions that I receive on Christmas plants and that I will talk about on Dec 3rd and 4th:
 

  • Can I get Christmas plants to re-bloom?
  • Is it true that Christmas cactus can live to be 100 years old?
  • How do I keep paperwhites from becoming floppy?
  • What do I do will amaryllis once it quits blooming?
  • What is the best location to place Christmas plants in my home or office?
  • Are poinsettias poisonous?
  • Do I need to apply fertilizer?
  • How much light do these plants need?

 
Don’t forget to register online as soon as possible. These are very popular sessions and last weekend's sessions sold out very quickly!
 
 See you on the 3rd and 4th!

~Jim Hole

"How-to" Demonstrations

I’m really excited about our Christmas-themed "How-to" demonstrations.
 
If you want to know how to assemble gorgeous wreaths, centerpieces, spectacular "winterscape" planters, or how to make delicious holiday dishes, you don’t want to miss our Dec 3rd and 4th events.
 
Now, I have to confess that I am not the most artistic guy around, so I am leaving the demonstrations to our wonderful design team that includes Dana from Hole’s Floral Studio, Joyce who merchandises all of our beautiful décor items, and Chef Enrique Toldeo from our Glasshouse Bistro.
 
But, I will still be around to do what I think I do best which is to talk about plants – Christmas plants, in particular. I am going to cover the basic "how-tos" of the big four Christmas plants: poinsettias, Christmas cactus, amaryllis, and paperwhites. I’ll discuss what to look for when you purchase these plants and how to keep them looking beautiful in your home or office. And, yes, if you still have those burning questions on tomato plants or apples, I’ll be happy to answer your questions.
 
Here is a sample of common questions that I receive on Christmas plants and that I will talk about on Dec 3rd and 4th:
 

  • Can I get Christmas plants to re-bloom?
  • Is it true that Christmas cactus can live to be 100 years old?
  • How do I keep paperwhites from becoming floppy?
  • What do I do will amaryllis once it quits blooming?
  • What is the best location to place Christmas plants in my home or office?
  • Are poinsettias poisonous?
  • Do I need to apply fertilizer?
  • How much light do these plants need?

 
Don’t forget to register online as soon as possible. These are very popular sessions and last weekend's sessions sold out very quickly!
 
 See you on the 3rd and 4th!

~Jim Hole

Rodents

On the farm we were often plagued with mice. It seemed they were everywhere , and they always found our old wooden barn to be particularly inviting. They also loved our potato patch, and often dug into the hills and dined on the tender tubers. I can remember many years when we had to grade-out hundreds of pounds of tubers thanks to mouse damage.
 
Mice (and their close relatives voles) can also cause severe damage to young trees and shrubs. Tender fruit trees like apples and plums are a favourite food for these rodents. Trees that become "girdled" by rodents invariably die and must be replaced with new transplants.
 
So what does one do to control these critters? Essentially, there are three control strategies: exclusion, repellents and traps/rodenticides.
 
Exclusion should always be at the top of the list. Providing solid physical barriers is the most important first step. Tough, plastic tree wraps provide excellent protection, and well-sealed homes will keep rodents from coming indoors. Just remember that exclusion always goes hand in hand with cleaning up the yard and removing places for rodents to inhabit and hide.

Repellents can be reasonably effective against mice and voles but are not designed to eliminate rodents from your property. Rodents are surprisingly smart and highly adaptive and while some repellents have some short-term affect they often provide poor protection unless applied regularly. Sometimes blood meal fertilizer is recommended as a rodent repellent but I have never found that it works. However, blood containing products like "Plantskydd" are fairly effect for repelling deer and elk.

One important thing to keep in mind that repellents come under Canada’s Pest Control Products Act. What that means, among other things, is that if a product is not labeled as a repellent with a "PCP" number on the label it cannot be sold as such. Thus, a product like blood meal is labeled for sale only as a fertilizer but not as a repellent. 
 
Rodenticides are another tool for rodent control. Today’s best mouse killers are superior to the old "toss and scatter" baits and, instead, are secured in bait stations. Typically, a bait station includes a solid block of rodenticide that is sealed in a plastic container that has a clear plastic lid and, for safety’s sake, the bait can only be accessed via a mouse-sized entry hole.  One feeding is all it takes to kill small rodents.
 
Still, there are a couple of other strategies that can be employed if the above three don’t appeal to you. Some people prefer to employ a feline or two to keep rodents in checkwhile others simply shrug their shoulders and tolerate some rodent damage by adopting a "live and let live" philosophy.
 
As always, the choice is yours.

~Jim Hole

"Bulb Empowering"

When I hear the term "forcing" bulbs, I usually envision someone holding a flower bulb over a compost bin and yelling, "This is your last chance dammit! Bloom or I’m dropping you in."
 
But the term "bulb forcing" really hasn’t arisen out of any ill feelings towards bulbs. It’s used simply to describe a technique where one schedules flower bulbs to bloom within a particular time frame.
 
Amaryllis, Narcissus and Hyacinth are examples of forced bulbs that are commonly grown in our homes. At the greenhouses, we have a bunch that are quite content to sit dormant in boxes on our store shelves and wait patiently for customers to pot them for forcing indoors.
 
Each variety of forcing bulbs has its own "weeks to flower" schedule, based largely on its genetic make-up. Bulbs like Narcissus bloom quickly once potted-up, while Hyacinth and Amaryllis take a bit longer to display their gorgeous flowers.
 
Flowering times can be sped-up or slowed-down, somewhat, by manipulating temperatures. Cool temperatures delay flowering while warm temperatures reduce the time to flower.

Beyond their beauty, what I really like about forced bulbs is that they require so little care. The growers who have carefully nurtured them have already done most of the work. All I that I have to do is drop them into pots, add water, and enjoy.
 
Come to think of it, given that potting up a bulb is such a gentle and nurturing activity, coupled with our modern sensitivity to labeling things, perhaps its time to replace the harsh term "bulb forcing" with something like "bulb empowering".
 
Maybe "bulb emancipation" is an even better phrase, since we liberate the bulbs from their dry packages and transplant them into warm, moist, potting soil. Or perhaps consider "Manipulation of florogenesis of geophytes" if plant science is your thing.
 
Hmm… with some sober second thought, I think "bulb forcing" sounds just fine.

~Jim Hole
 

Marvelous Mums

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Fall mums are some of the most spectacular plants for our gardens. No other fall-flowering plant can match the colour of mums and they always arrive just when our gardens are looking a little brown and need a little brightening-up.
 
When it comes to fall mums there are roughly three categories based on flowering period: early, mid-season and late. Early varieties start blooming in August and into mid-September. Mid-season varieties bloom from late September and well into October, while the late varieties are for late October and November.
 
By now, anyone who purchased the early varieties (August-September bloomers) can see that they are well past their prime and have more dead blossoms than they do vibrant flowers. But, the mid-season types are just beginning to bloom. Mid-season types are, usually, bigger and more floriferous than their early season cousins and with cooler October temperatures, will last much longer than the early maturing varieties.
 
While garden mums won’t be killed by hard frosts, the blossoms can be damaged. What I like to do is leave the mums in their plastic pots and then just drop them into a slightly-larger, decorative pot so that they can be pulled out and placed in the garage should the night temperatures get really cold. Beyond giving them shelter when needed, mid-season mums just require some watering to keep them looking spectacular often until Halloween, and sometimes beyond.
 
If you are wondering about the late season mums keep in mind that, by November, we often get some pretty cold temperatures. Having said that, I have seen years where late season mums looked incredible well into the third week of November.

For me, the reward of seeing spectacular mums blooming in November outweighs the risk of damage from deep cold or heavy snowfalls!
 
Who knows, could this be the year of blooming garden mums in early December? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened!
 
Risk versus reward – everyone has their own formula.

~Jim Hole

Second Pruning Workshop Added!

Thanks to everyone who attended last weekend’s pruning workshop. With close to 400 people attending, it was a little crowded and I thank everyone for their patience and a special thanks to those who helped move additional chairs into the greenhouse!
 
I apologize that I was unable to answer everyone’s questions on Sunday, so I thought it would be wise to have another pruning session on Saturday, October 15th at 1pm here at the greenhouses. If you missed last Sunday’s pruning workshop, or if you didn’t get your questions answered, please feel free to sign-up online or by phone for the workshop.
 
Also, thanks for so many great questions from the audience members. There was a lot of territory covered; everything from pruning raspberries and grapes to training apple trees into an espalier form. I suspect the next workshop will be a little smaller and a bit more intimate, however, it will be the last pruning event until early next year.
 
Now I know that some of you are probably thinking that I need to space out my pruning workshops for safety’s sake. This past spring I talked about the incredible sharpness of the "Corona Razortooth Pruning Saw" and no sooner had the words come out of my mouth, I then proceeded to cut my left index finger. On Sunday I, once again, talked about the sharpness of the pruning saw and managed to cut my left index finger in the same spot.
 

So whether you are coming to workshop to learn about pruning or just want to see if I will have a "threepeat" I look forward to seeing you on the 15th !


~Jim Hole

Autumn Tomatoes

The end of the 2016 tomato season is rapidly approaching. That doesn’t mean that you need to run out to the garden and strip every last fruit of off each plant, but you do want to keep a close eye on the weather. If frost threatens, keep some "Cloud Cover" fabric handy and drape it over the tomatoes. The fabric will provide a few degrees of frost protection for the foliage and fruit.
 
When it comes time for the final harvest both ripe and green fruit can be gathered. Green tomatoes will ripen inside your home provided it has reached the "breaker" stage. The breaker stage is the point where the fruit has reached sufficient maturity so that it will change colour once indoors. Fruit that hasn’t reached the breaker stage–indicated by a deep green colour–will not mature inside regardless of what treatments you provide. Light green tomatoes have excellent flavour but the deep green ones are, typically, inedible.
 
One technique that a lot of people love, is to cut-off the entire tomato plant at ground level–fruit intact–and hang the plants upside down in a heated shed or garage. The tomato plants continue to send sugars to the fruit–if only for a short period of time–allowing some of the fruit on the "fringe" to ripen. The other good thing is that hung tomatoes are less inclined to rot while hanging because of better air movement.


~Jim Hole

FREE Pruning Workshop with Jim Hole!

Over the years, I would say that the main reason people don’t prune their trees and shrubs is due to a fear that pruning of the irreparable damage it cause.
 
But while it’s true, that a bad pruning job can lead to some serious tree and shrub problems, doing nothing can be even worse. That is why I’m putting on a fall pruning workshop.
 
Given that the spring pruning workshops were so popular, and the fact that a lot of pruning can be done in the fall, I’m offering an hour long pruning session on Sunday, September 21st for everyone who would like to know more about the principles of tree and shrub pruning and the equipment required to get the job done safely and effectively. The session is free and all that you need to do is sign-up on line and pop out.
 
And don’t forget to bring along your questions on anything from fall raspberry pruning to pruning huge American Elms.
 
And, no, there won’t be any lessons on how to climb a 20 metre tall Elm with a chainsaw in hand – that’s for certified arborists – but I will talk about all of the pruning jobs that you can comfortably tackle yourselves and the essential tools needed for safe and effective pruning.
 
Looking forward to seeing you on the 21st!


~Jim Hol