"I Want You To Be A Thermostat" By Robin Mungall


I was at a conference once and the presenter said, “I want you to be a thermostat.  Not a thermometer.”
He then stopped talking. The room was quiet as everyone tried to digest what in the heck this guy was talking about.
We were pretty sure he wasn’t crazy. He was a Harvard graduate that worked with celebrities, presidents, and ultra-successful business owners.

It seemed like a long time passed before he started talking again. He gave us a hint and said, “What does a thermometer do?”
“A thermometer takes the temperature of the room,” we proudly said – feeling all smart again.
It merely goes up and down based on the outside environment. Said another way, if the temperature suddenly dropped then the mercury level in the thermometer would go down.
He then went on to tell us that a thermostat controls the environment.  In other words if we set the thermostat to 70 degrees, then the environment changes to meet the request of the thermostat.
The thermometer has no say.
The thermostat is the one in charge.
See the difference?
I loved this little analogy for many reasons and decided to share it with you because getting healthy is tough for many people.
They try, and fail.
They try again, and fail.
Over time they lose hope. 
They get frustrated. They feel like a failure. They think that it’s out of their reach.  They think there’s a secret pill that will come out one day.
And there is a secret – kind of.  It’s to be a thermostat.
I have be honest, I never thought I’d tell someone that!
A huge part of permanent weight loss is a mind shift from what you’ve done before, to what is proven to work.  And what’s proven to work isn’t sexy and flashy.
Believe me, I wish I could just sell you a pill that made you drop all the extra fat that you don’t want and relieve all aches and pains.  But that’s just not reality.
Part of the mind shift is made easier when you have someone to help you on the journey.  Someone to carefully guide you through the mine fields of self-doubt, confusion, frustration, and giving up when things don’t seem to be going as you want.
Leaders, a more reasonable term for thermostats, set goals, follow through, and get the support they need to reach those goals efficiently.
So which will you be from now on a thermometer or a thermostat? 

-Robin Mungall


"Should Compost Be Applied To Gardens In The Fall?" By Jim Hole

I was speaking at the Compost Council of Canada’s ‘Organics Recycling’ Conference in Calgary on Monday. It was great show and I learned a lot about what is happening in the world of composting highlighted by the opening of the City of Calgary’s massive new composting facility.
Yet, while these enormous are impressive, the conversion of organic "waste" to compost always operates at a microscopic level. A presentation on the microbiology of soils and composting reminded me that healthy soils are teeming with life. For example, a single teaspoon of soil holds more individual microorganisms than then the total number of people on earth! And one quarter of all of the earth’s species live in soil.

 So when you enrich the soil in your yard with compost, an incredibly diverse, an huge group of beneficial microbes team-up to improve your soil quality. The result is the plants in your yard are much healthier, more productive, and more resilient.

I’m often asked if compost should be applied in the fall to gardens. The answer is a resounding yes! Compost should be worked into the soil in the fall to increase soil organic matter so that it is available for plants to utilize first thing in the spring.
I like to add a 5 cm layer of SeaSoil compost to my garden in the fall. Even if I don’t find the time to work it into the soil, it’s rich, brown colour looks great as a "mulch". Besides, surface applied composts will still eventually work their way below the soil surface.
Remember that soils never rest. Soils lose organic matter if it’s not added regularly. As the saying goes, "nature abhors a vacuum" which, with respect to soil, translates to "nature abhors bare soil". Adding your own compost or great alternative composts, like SeaSoil, to your garden keeps Mother Nature happy!

-Jim Hole

This Feels Really Good... By Robin Mungall


One of the feelings I love the most is feeling accomplished.  Like when I cross off a bunch of things on my To Do list, or when I start a new house project and actually finish it.

There’s a sense of pride.  It’s knowing that I did the work and the reward is worth it.

Actually, it’s one of the things that drives me.  If I really take the time to analyze why I do certain things, it’s because ultimately, I want to feel accomplished.

And I don’t mean that in a snobby way – like look at all of my degrees and certifications – but rather in a way that feels “done” to me.

In the health and fitness world a lot of programs focus on the big goal – losing x amount of pounds.

And I’m definitely a fan of having big goals because they are our lighthouses.  They give us something to head towards and keep us on track through what can be a tumultuous journey.

But if your ultimate goal will take you a year or 6 months – or even a month – to accomplish… well that’s a bit too long to work towards something without feeling accomplished.

This is why most people lose motivation after a week or two on a new program.  The motivation is gone because there was no sense of accomplishment.

One of the reasons we feel good after crossing something off our To Do list is because we did the task and it’s DONE.

But as I already mentioned, for most people on a health journey you’re never really “done” in a day or a week.

See the problem?

This is why I like to celebrate other goals with my clients.  For example, maybe the goal is to come in 3 days a week.  We celebrate each visit and we celebrate at the end of the week too.

Or maybe I’m working closely with a client to ultimately eliminate sugar from their diet.  Maybe we start with eliminating sugar after 5pm.  We start with something we can do and say “done”.

This is where we feel accomplished.

I’m not sure if you ever ran or walked in a 5K or something like that before, but generally every half mile or mile there is a marker letting you know how much of the course has been completed.

Yes these markers are placed here as a general FYI, but they also serve as a reminder of what you’ve already accomplished.

Here’s my point: having ultimate goals is great and needed, but we also need the smaller goals too.  We need to feel accomplished on a daily basis.

We crave this feeling.  It makes us feel good.

The old adage about a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step comes to mind.  There’s a lot of meaning in that little sentence and one of the meanings is small goals are needed.

I would like you to set a small and specific actionable goal right now. What small goal will you accomplish today that will put you one step ahead in your health and fitness?

-Robin Mungall


Try "Forcing" Fall Bulbs For Better Results, By Jim Hole

I think ‘fall bulbs’ is a rather confusing term for many gardeners. It seems to imply that fall bulbs bloom in fall when, in fact, they are just planted in fall so that they will bloom the following spring.


I think "fall bulbs" is a rather confusing term for many gardeners. It seems to imply that fall bulbs bloom in fall when, in fact, they are just planted in fall so that they will bloom the following spring.

But, from a bulb’s perspective at least, they really don’t care about the names we humans give to our seasons. Their goal is to bloom when the weather is good so that they can flower, produce seeds, and populate the planet. If you provide them with a growing environment that meets their needs, they will happily bloom any time of year. In fact, any one of us can manipulate a bulb’s growth cycle, if we so choose. The technique is called ‘forcing’ and it’s not that tough to do. Plus, it offers some fun.

A bit of science

Before you can force a bulb you need to understand a bit about what they are and what makes them tick. The term ‘bulb’ is properly applied to bulbous structures common to plants like tulips and onions. But it has evolved into a generic description for all large, fleshy, subterranean structures that plants produce to endure adverse climatic conditions like drought and cold. Corms, rhizomes and tubers are bulb-like structures but aren’t true bulbs. Still, unless you are writing a botany exam, I think it’s OK to call them all bulbs.

Forcing bulbs to bloom out of season is easier to accomplish if you think of them as ‘biocomputers’ that are continuously undergoing internal chemical changes as they monitor their environment. For example, if you plant a tulip into your garden in the fall, it will generate roots and a very short shoot and then stop growing while it waits for the next round of environmental signals before resuming growth and eventually blooming. For tulips, it’s the accumulation of a minimum number of hours of frosty temperatures that allows the plants to flower, once the warm weather returns. Forcing is little more than placing bulbs in a cold spot like a fridge or unheated garage for several weeks and then warming the bulbs up to force blooming.

For some tulip species, 14 weeks of cold is sufficient to trigger a flowering response come spring. That’s why it’s not all that rare to see tulips poking up near house foundations during an extended warm spell in February. The bulbs have ‘accumulated’ all of the cold that they need and think it’s spring. Apparently, they don’t understand the Canadian prairies very well.

In warmer climates like California gardeners aren’t ‘blessed’ with winter cold, so they must refrigerate bulbs if they want to enjoy their blooms. I’ve talked to a number of garden centre owners in California who sell tulips to gardeners and provide them with instructions on chilling bulbs in refrigerators. Once the bulbs have had sufficient fridge chilling, they bloom just as beautifully as those that are grown outside.

What should you do?

Growing my own plants at home, I’ve forced bulbs — some planned, some unplanned. On the planned side of things, in September I plant tulips into my pots and then leave them there until October before moving them into my unheated garage for the winter. In late March I move them back to my deck for a beautiful floral display when my trees are still leafless and my lawn is completely brown.

But this past winter I forgot that I had left a package of ‘Canada 150’ tulips in my garage. So in April, I just pulled the ‘forced’ tulips out of the garage and planted them in containers on my deck and I had a beautiful display of red and white flowers by early May. I didn’t let on to anyone that this patriotic display wasn’t planned.

Now don’t forget that forcing is also a great technique for growing tulips in a glass jars. No pots, soils or gardens are necessary. You just need some chilled bulbs, a clear vase, some decorative rocks and, of course, some water in the base. If you are a bit of a rebel you could chill the tulips in your fridge and have them blooming in glass vases for Christmas.

Here are a few final tips on forcing. Check the requirements on your bulb species. Some need chilling, some don’t like it, and some already come pre-chilled by the grower. Also, don’t put your bulbs into a freezer because it’s too cold. You’ll need a fridge or a cool (but not extremely cold) garage. And don’t forget that kitchens and living rooms are far too warm for ‘growing out’ the forced bulbs. Cool indoor temperatures are always best to prevent soft, floppy, weak growth once the bulbs are poking through the soil.

Planting bulbs directly into the garden is still a great way to go, but think about saving a few bulb for some forcing. It might just redefine the world of gardening for you.

- Jim Hole

Not All Grass Seed Is Created Equally By Jim Hole

Many people believe all lawn grasses are created equally. Nothing could be further from the truth.


For example, many packages of lawn grass seeds come as a mixture of different species and varieties. Two types of grass seed that dominate these blends are perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. Perennial ryegrass grows quickly, but is not particularly hardy; nor is it long lived on the prairies, but it germinates rapidly and emerges quickly from the soil. Kentucky bluegrass is the premium lawn grass for our region, but it is much slower to pop out of the soil.
Still, perennial ryegrass is good as a “nurse” grass to protect Kentucky bluegrass until it gets established. You just don’t want too much perennial ryegrass in a blend. Perennial ryegrass seeds are also much larger than Kentucky bluegrass seeds. In fact, a kilogram of perennial ryegrass contains about 500,000 seeds, whereas a kilogram of Kentucky bluegrass contains a whopping 3,000,000 seeds! Therefore, you can see that buying lawn seed strictly by weight is not a great strategy.
The bottom line is that a bit of perennial ryegrass is good for helping to protect your Kentucky bluegrass, but a lot of perennial ryegrass is a waste of money.
September is a great month for sowing lawn grass seeds, so choose your grass seed carefully! We recommend Manderley Seed. Find it here, at Hole's Greenhouses.

Hand-picked Chokecherries, House-made Jelly

"I gave a jar of Hole's Chokecherry Jelly to my new neighbours & they LOVED it! Even their 4-year-old couldn't resist!"

Great gift idea for teachers!

The Glasshouse Bistro has preserved over 100 jars of Chokecherry Jelly with hand-picked Choke Cherries- straight from the Hole's Farm! Give a farm-fresh gift today – plus pick one up for yourself!

That's not all the Glasshouse Bistro has to offer...make your reservations online at www.glasshousebistro.ca

For questions or dining room reservations booked less than 1 hour in advance, or for parties larger than 6, please call 780-651-7361.

Lois E. Hole Public Elementary School Now Open!!

In Lois Hole's own words, this is what inclusive, public education meant to her:

"Schools work best when they are inclusive, when they throw open their doors for all kinds of students, regardless of culture, religion, disabilities, gender, or economic background. A learning environment made of a wide variety of students gives them the best chance to learn not just math, science, English, and the other regular subjects: it helps them learn about each other, and those lessons are perhaps the most important of all. 

"This district has much to be proud of, and I know that it will continue to serve future students well. It must, for only by ensuring a steady flow of educated, well-rounded, tolerant, critical thinkers can our society continue to grow and prosper." - Lois Hole

We wish all of the students and teachers at Lois E. Hole Elementary a full and exciting school year!

Students Shop & Save!


With school starting up again, Hole's Greenhouses is now offering students a 10% discount on indoor plants. With their air cleaning and oxygen producing capabilities, studies show that plants boost attention spans and increase productivity – making them your best study-buddy yet!

Or even better: pick up an indoor plant for your new teacher. A plant in the classroom is a gift to your whole class!

Study better than every before... just add plants!

*In-store only. Must present valid student ID.

Not sure where to start?

Here are a few of our favourite indoor plants that thrive in low light environments:

Snake Plant

The Snake Plant, or Sansevieria, is a hardy indoor plant you can grow just about anywhere, making it one of the best houseplants out there. Plus, Snake Plants are great air purifiers!

Buy this plant now –>



The genus Calathea includes some of the most beautiful and striking tropical foliage plants in the world. Thriving in low to medium light and high humidity, these plants are great for the kitchen or bathroom!

Buy this plant now –>


Peace Lily

The Peace Lily is a resilient household plant with amazing air cleaning capabilities, so much so, that it has secured a spot on NASA’s list of “Top 10 Household Air Cleaning Plants.” Peace Lilies clean all 5 of the most common household toxins in the air!

Buy this plant now –>


Homemade "Grass Clippings" Veggie Dip

How can we ensure our kids (or adults!) are eating their vegetables, and enjoying them too? One thing is certain: everyone loves to dip garden fresh veggies. Try this homemade dip recipe to ensure you are getting the garden-fresh nutrients you need – without the added sugars & preservatives of store-bought dips!


1. Mix equal parts mayonnaise & plain yogurt. For a healthier option, substitute low fat mayonnaise and 0% fat plain yogurt! 

2. Next, add the juice of ½ a lemon. Add more or less to adjust recipe to your personal taste!

3. Add ½ to ¾ teaspoon sea salt.

4. Cut in an assortment of your favourite fresh herbs. We recommend chives, dill, French tarragon and a bit of Italian parsley.

Herb scissors are a phenomenal kitchen tool for easy cutting of any type of fresh herb.

5. Eat fresh, although you may store leftovers covered in fridge for up to 7 days.

Also great on steamed beets and zucchini pancakes!

Your 3 Step Plan to Permanently Lose Weight & Feel Better


It's post labour day and you all know what that means. It signals the end of summer, and back to a normal routine. For a lot of us it's also a brilliant time to make some small changes to that "normal" routine of ours that can help us be a little healthier and a little leaner. 

Perhaps you've gone down this road before and tried to lose some weight and get into better shape. But for what ever reason it just didn't stick. We often chalk it up to losing motivation or decide that we just aren't a "fit" type of person. 

Let's make this time different. Let's do this "get fit" thing in a way that it actually sticks, and where you still get to enjoy thanksgiving pies and a daily dose of chocolate. 

And let's do it with outlining your keys to fitness success in 3 steps. 

Step 1: Forget Motivation, Embrace the "Strategic Habit System"

Motivation is like a wave, it peaks for a time then dissipates, that's it's nature and while we can take advantage of the wave when it comes, we need something else to keep us going when the wave of motivation dissipates. That's where having a strategy in place is key.

More specifically a strategy based on building habits that produce the fit body you want. 

Part of the strategy is picking just 1 or 2 things (no more) that you can confidently say yes to being able to do consistently.

Here are 3 examples:

a) Only veggies after 7pm most nights

b) Have only 4 or less calorie containing drinks a week

c) 10 minutes of a simple 3 exercise circuit most mornings at 7am (Plank, Squat, Pushup)

Step 2: Start Where You Are – Do What You Can

We often get caught up in comparing our efforts to others and feel we need to do what they are doing. Or we feel we need to be doing everything all at once and at 100% efficiency otherwise what’s the point. Either way, that never attitude always ends with feeling defeated and thus we give up.

This time practice more self-compassion, instead of focusing on what you are not doing and what you can’t do, take an honest look at your lifestyle, your knowledge and the support around you and start with where you are at right now and focus on what you can do and stay focused on only those things.

Every few weeks evaluate and if you can do more, then do more.

Step 3: Record Your Actions

There is a saying I like to use, “if it doesn’t get tracked it doesn’t get changed.”

Those who record the actions they are working on increase their results by 100%. That’s a big pay off for doing something as simple as writing it down. With my own clients I have them keep a journal and recommend they write down the actions we are working on. You don’t have to write anything more than just those 1 or 2 actions, and once those actions become habitual, then we get to pick another 1 or 2 actions and repeat.

When you start recording your actions, make your first goal to be consistent, then to make progress because consistency, if that has eluded you in the past, is progress in of itself. Perhaps the best part about recording your actions is that it takes the guesswork out the equation. You know exactly how you are doing and can use that knowledge to your advantage and truly make sustainable changes in the way you look and feel.

In Summary:

Use motivation when it comes, but ultimately have a strategy in place that builds sustainable habits that work for you. Stay focused on the things you can do, and take out the guesswork by recording your actions daily so you can repeat the process and continue to make new habits that support your weight loss and fitness goals.

And as always if you need help, you need only ask. 

Robin Mungall NSCA CPT


Medical Marijuana: Safe Use Begins With The Grower

A recent article in the Globe and Mail highlights problem that growers of medical marijuana—and, in fact, all gardeners— must address and manage: safe pest control. 

In the article, a grower is alleged to have applied some chemicals not allowed for medical marijuana to their plants. Users of the marijuana complained about health issues related to these chemicals and a recall and a Health Canada investigation ensued. 

Medical marijuana growers are entering into territory in which some of them have little experience. Good crop management requires pre-planning, expertise, and hard work. Managing a crop to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pest problems starts with the fundamentals; if these fundamentals are managed, then pesticides and fungicides can often be avoided altogether.

For instance, the 2 problems that this medical marijuana company likely faced were a fungus or mildew problem and spider mites.


When temperature, water, plant nutrition, growing media and monitoring are properly used and systems followed, the problems become much smaller and more easily solved. For instance: mildew can be prevented with good sanitation, proper watering, and soil temperature management.

Spider mites can likewise be prevented and managed with proper temperature, humidity, and watering. Regular inspections can also catch the problem when it is small, and it can be dealt with non-chemically in a number of different ways.

Unfortunately, it appears that the marijuana growers’ pay structure was significantly tied to the production levels from their marijuana plants.

When the previously mentioned plant problems occurred, rather than catch them early, prevent them in the first place, or destroy the infected crop, it is alleged that the growers used anything at their disposal to salvage the crop. This allegedly included using banned chemicals that no greenhouse with an experienced, certified, pest management team would ever dream of using. 

Medical marijuana growers need to model themselves after the greenhouse vegetable industry. These greenhouses have been growing edible crops for many years and know what it takes to grow safely, using preventative practices.

Even if these preventative practices don’t work, there are many non-chemical or gentle controls such as garlic sprays, beneficial nematodes, predatory insects, and soaps that can be used to control many pest problems. 

Experienced greenhouse vegetable growers will be in high demand if the marijuana industry grows as rapidly as the pundits. Preventative steps and the safe and correct use of pest controls is what they practice every day.

Is Self-Care a Cliche? By Robin Mungall


I’m beginning to think that self-care is a bit cliché. I see TV shows talk about it.  I see other businesses try to sell it.  I read magazine articles about it.  John Tesh shares tips on his nightly radio show.
Self-care gets so much coverage, but it never seems to translate into actual self-care.
Know what I mean?
Last week I talked with a lady who is 36 years old, has 3 kids, a full-time job, is married, and has 2 dogs.  She barely has time to breathe. She knows she needs to take better care of herself, but she’s hesitant.


Because she’s been down this path so many times before.  She swears that because (the kids are going back to school, it’s the new year, she turned 36, etc.) that she’s really gonna do it this time.
But deep down – she’s not excited about working out or eating well. She does want to feel better.  She wants to look better. She wants to be happier. But working out is never fun. And eating healthy is super-boring.
She’s kind of tired of feeling this way. Overwhelmed is her word for how she feels. How can she possibly start to all of a sudden workout a ton, eat no sugar or carbs, start meditating, doing a daily journal, write love notes to her husband, reach out to old friends, take long walks in nature, and read a book every 3 days?
Like I said earlier. She barely has time to breathe.
I’m glad she reached out to me though. I hear stories like hers a lot. The self-care industry is important, but boy-oh-boy do they have a way of making most of us feel super-guilty about what we’re NOT doing.
That never makes us feel good. It’s one of the many reasons I believe in a journey. If I want to reach a goal, I have to take steps towards that goal.
One step at a time.  And repeat. And repeat.
Being healthy is a habit with no end date.  It’s something we all work on daily.  Some days we’re rockstars and other days we’re lucky to make it out of the house looking somewhat human.
Don’t let self-care be a source of stress.  Simply pick one thing to focus on and do that one thing for the next week.
Just decide and commit.
By the way here are a few great single habit things to commit to. Pick one to get started.

  • Drop your average weekly consumption of pop, juice and alcohol by 3 cups or more
  • Eat a fist full of veggies with 5 dinners
  • Cut your night time snack portions in half then drink a cup of water
  • Have some protein at breakfast like an egg or cottage cheese
  • Do 10 squats and hold a plank for 10-30seconds every morning before work or right when you get home after work
  • Prepare a healthy lunch for Monday and one other day this week

What habit are you going to start with? Feel free to let me know, and if I can give you some advice to make your strategy work better, I am happy to help. 

- Robin

Podcast: Pruning - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about pruning your trees but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a pruning podcast on the Hole's Radio Network, available here.

In this episode of the Hole's Radio Network, Jim Hole chats with Brad Walker—the reluctant gardener—about the top 5 things everybody needs to know about pruning: from the right tools, to the right time, and when to do it yourself & when to call a professional.

Play it below or download it by clicking here and, when you're done checking it out, please let us know what you think (by replying in the comments below). Also, let us know if you'd like to see more podcasts or video tutorials in the future.

An African Proverb Holds the Answer to Weight Loss, By Robin Mungall

Seeds of health Header.jpg

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”

The journey of getting healthy follows this quote beautifully.  I know a lot of people who have decided to start a diet and plan to lose 10 pounds in 7 days or whatever. These people are going at it alone. They’ll see results too.

What, you didn’t think I’d say that?

I’m sure you’ve heard of water weight. Almost anyone can lose a noticeable difference on the scale when following an extreme diet.

And honestly, most of us have been there. Almost everyone I know has gone on a diet like this.  The end game is always to lose weight fast.

They go it alone to get fast results.

But we also have all been on the other side of that 7 day sprint or 30 day crash.  And we know that weight comes back on plus a bit more – just to teach us a lesson (that some of us never learn).

I wish I could tell you that losing weight, getting fit, and eating healthy was a quick flash in the pan that you just had to do once and you’d be good to go forever.

I really wish I could. I’d be rich and famous beyond belief.

But the truth is that getting fit is a long game.  And just like the African proverb says… when you want to go far, go together.

The reason here is simple: when it’s a long game there will be up’s and down’s.  There will be periods of motivation and exhaustion.  There will be triumph and defeat.

It’s critical that for a long game, you have a team that supports you and gets you.

It’s why golfers have a caddy.  It’s someone that helps them navigate the course and offers sage advice.  The caddy also helps keep the golfer mentally focused.

It’s why business executives have mentors.  It’s why college students have advisors.  It’s why lawyers have the Bar Association.

Together, we are held accountable.  We are pulled through the bad times.  We have someone guiding us that we trust and that we can follow until we reach our goal.

This is why “together” we always go further.

So I invite you to try something different than going at it alone. I invite you to seek support from someone that can take the journey with you. A loved one, friends or a professional like me or someone else you trust to keep you accountable and moving in the direction you want to go.

- Robin Mungall


Podcast: Skinny & Dwarf Trees for Small Yards - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about growing a tree in a yard without much space but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a skinny and dwarf tree podcast on the Hole's Radio Network, available here.

In this episode of the Hole's Radio Network, Jim Hole chats with Brad Walker—the reluctant gardener—about the top 5 things everybody needs to know about growing a tree in a small space.

Play it below or download it by clicking here and—when you're done checking it out—please let us know what you think (by replying in the comments below). Also, let us know if you'd like to see more podcasts or video tutorials in the future.