The Health Benefits of Plants (and Other Interesting Stories)

There's nothing quite like a day at the greenhouse during the winter.  It's warm and sunny inside the greenhouse, and—best of all—you're surrounded by all kinds of plants. 

There's even research that shows that simply being around greenery in the form of potted houseplants and trees improves our concentrationreduces our blood pressure,  and can even speed up our recovery from illness.

In fact,  we have daily visitors who stop by the greenhouse in the winter not to buy anything in particular, but to have a cup of coffee in the Glasshouse Bistro and to walk through our rows and rows of plants because it puts them in a better mood.

Of course, we've also have some funnier stories of people visiting the greenhouse in a bit of a panic.

False Alarmia

I'll never forget the time that a woman intercepted me as I was walking  into our Garden Centre. She was rather sheepishly and secretively clutching the leaf of a plant, and quietly asked me a question.
"I just found this growing in my son's room!" she cried. “Is this what I think it is?”
Taking a closer look at the plant in her hand, I murmured, "Umm... False Aralia?"
Turns out, she was very relieved to know that her son wasn’t growing what she was suspected was marijuana. And, in all fairness to Mom, False Aralia leaves bear a fairly close resemblance to those of the infamous marijuana plant.

Her son, I imagine, was probably less pleased to find out that the plant he had paid a pretty penny for was nothing but an ordinary houseplant.

Urine Trouble Now

Then there was the time that a concerned woman phoned me up and told me that her husband insisted that human urine was an excellent fertilizer for potatoes. 

Furthermore, he insisted on not wasting this valuable resource by flushing it down the toilet. Instead, he had a nightly ritual of  on peeing on the plot of potatoes in their yard.
"He claims it's the best treatment for growing great potatoes," she said, in a quiet voice. 

At first, I thought I was being ribbed, but she was deadly serious. Under the cover of darkness, he would quietly slip outside and urinate on the spuds, varying his location each night to spread his precious "nutrients" around. "Is it still okay to eat the potatoes?" she asked.
While we think nothing of adding animal manure to our gardens, human waste makes most of us a little queasy.  

I did a little research on the nutrient content and composition of human urine and discovered that it does contains fairly high levels of many essential plant nutrients. 

In fact, the nitrogen levels can be quite high—which is good—but the overall salt concentration can also be rather high which can lead to plant injury if one is overzealous during application. Therefore, discretion is a must, both in fine-tuning dosages and choosing a discreet time to fertilize that won't scandalize the neighbours.
 Oh, and when it comes eating the potatoes, odds are very strongly in favour of there not being any safety concerns BUT my position was to err on the side of caution and not recommend these potatoes for human consumption. And, of course, there is always the "ick" factor.

~Jim Hole

p.s. Which gardening trends are you interested in this year? Do you have ideas for workshops that you'd like to see us put on or things you'd like to learn more about this year? Drop us a line at! We're programming our 2015 workshops and events now and would love to hear from you.