outdoors

Podcast: Fall Pest Control - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about controlling pests and insects in your yard but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a pest-control 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 pests and insects in the fall: where they go, how to keep them from taking over your garden, and when and how to apply your dormant spray kit (click here for details).

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.

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Podcast: Fall Bulbs - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about planting fall bulbs but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a fall bulb 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 fall bulbs: from the right way to plant them, to the right time, and some secrets on what makes them bloom.

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.

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.

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.

Podcast: The Perfect Lawn - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about growing the perfect lawn but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a podcast all about taking care of your lawn, 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 the perfect lawn. He covers all the topics: top-dressing, dethatching, weeding, watering, fertilizing, and more!

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.

Podcast: The Best Ways to Water Your Garden, Containers, Lawn, & Trees - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about the best watering advice for your garden, lawn, trees, or containers but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a podcast all about watering your plants 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 watering their plants.

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.

Good Gourds!

Now is the time to start your cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and squash indoors. But with so many different varieties to choose from, it can be a tough decision!

Here's a few suggestions to get you started:

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Watermelon - Vista Hybrid (Citrullus lanatus) Big, sweet and reliable! The Vista Hybrid is a true classic. Its reddish flesh is firm, dense, extra sweet and crisp with that exceptional old-fashioned watermelon flavour.

These large oval fruits average a whopping 8kg, and have a light green rind with pronounced dark stripes.

Watermelons do best in areas with plenty of warm weather, which doesn't exactly make the Canadian prairies the most ideal place for melons to grow. But that doesn't mean it can’t be done! Placing a clear plastic covering over the melons for the first several weeks increases temperatures and can help immensely, allowing the melons to reach the same sizes available at the grocery store.


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Watermelon – Rainbow Sherbert – This variety is actually a mix of the early-maturing “icebox” varieties Yellow Doll, New Orchid, and Tiger Baby watermelons. Creating a fantastic mix of colours, sure to impress at your next picnic or barbecue.

These extra fancy beauties weigh-in at only 1.8 to 3 kilograms with thin, green-striped rinds and dense, crisp flesh.

Their party colours and refreshingly sweet, sherbet-like taste make them wonderful everyday treats or gorgeous summer desserts!


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Squash – Waltham Butternut (Cucurbita moschata) – An old favourite! Waltham Butternut Squash develops light bronze-coloured, easy-to-peel skins and deep orange, sweet, finely textured flesh that melts in the mouth.

Butternut squash matures in 110 days, so when growing your own, patience is key. But the payoff is well worth the wait! 

Because these 3 to 4 pound vegetables store well for up to two months, they can be kept for winter dishes like creamy butternut soup or spiced butternut bread. Or, season them with mixed spices and roast them, or wrap them in foil and grill them over an open fire at your next summer barbecue!


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Squash - Summer Scallop (Cucurbita pepo)  Here’s one of my favourite looking squashes. These unique flat fruits with scalloped edges resemble little flying saucers!

Squashes need full-sun, rich fertile soil, and warm temperatures. So make sure to plant them only when spring weather is warm and settled.

 These summer squashes can be treated a lot like a zucchini. However, they don’t contain as much moisture as a zucchini, which makes them perfect for kabobs and grilling.


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Cucumber – Cool Breeze (Cucumis sativus) – Here’s a cucumber that is really different.  Cool Breeze is a parthenocarpic variety bred to set perfect fruit without cross-pollination.  No male pollen is needed, so even if bees are scarce you'll still get a great crop!

A French “cornichon” (or gherkin) variety, Cool Breeze is intended for making those tiny cocktail-sized pickles, but the fruits are just as delicious when allowed to reach full size and eaten fresh.

If you’re short on space, these cucumbers can also be grown on a fence or a trellis for uniform straight fruit.


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Cucumber – Bush Slicer (Cucumis sativus) – Speaking of being short on space, Bush Slicer cucumbers are perfect for container gardening!

The straight 15 to 20 cm-long fruits have smooth, tender skin with small seed cavities and sweet, crisp flesh. The sturdy hybrid vines yield strong crops in both cool conditions and real summer heat.

Enjoy this space-saving cucumber in delicious salads from your own patio this season!


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Cucumber – Lemon Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) - Don’t be fooled by this heirloom's unusual shape-these bright yellow balls are excellent for salads and pickling. They have a clean, crisp taste and are never bitter!

Lemon cucumbers effortlessly produce loads of pastel yellow fruit the same colour, size, and shape as pale lemons.

Very young lemon cukes are delicious eaten right from the garden like a fresh crispy apple!

 

Early Spring Sowing

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Early spring sowing is a topic that causes many gardeners an inordinate amount of stress and confusion. There are 2 primary concerns, as I see it. The 1st concern is that if you sow seeds too early they will die due to snow, cold, frost or all of the above. The 2nd concern is that if you sow too late the vegetables won’t mature before they are killed by…well…snow, cold and frost.
 
Having grown up in the market garden business, I’ll share what our philosophy and strategy was for early seeding in April: 
•    A few acres of frost tolerant crops were sown as soon as we could till the soil in April.
•    If the soil was too wet, we would wait until we could drive the tractor on it without leaving ruts.
•    Once the soil was dry and regardless of the air temperature (0°C or 20°C)  we would plant a few acres of cool weather crops such as: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprout, onions, parsnips, peas, Kohlrabi, rutabaga, beets, spinach, Swiss chard and even a few potatoes.
•    After that initial planting we would sow 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th rounds of these vegetables so that we had a continuous supply throughout the year.
 
And while it may seem a little counter-intuitive, we even hoped to get a nice snowfall after sowing because—as the snow gently melted—it provided the perfect moisture levels for the vegetables, didn't compact the soil, and resulted in near perfect stands of seedlings.
 
The reason we don't wait until May 24th to sow our vegetables was simple: we wouldn't be have been in business if we adhered to that date. Early sowing means a much longer harvest season, which is exactly what our our customers wanted, so sowing many of our vegetable crops "early" was just standard practice. 


~Jim Hole

p.s. We've received a lot of calls about whether now would be an appropriate time to prune trees such as apples, maydays, or cherries. This is a perfect time to prune those types of trees! So if you've been thinking about pruning, consider this your sign.

On that same note: March 31st is the last day to prune Elm Trees in Edmonton. After this, the annual ban on Elm Tree pruning is in effect until October 1st. This ban occurs every year and helps prevent the spread of Dutch Elm disease. In the case of trees damaged by windstorms, fires, or lightning strikes, Elm Tree pruning exceptions may be granted by filling out an Elm Tree permission form with your local municipality.

 

Also Read About: Spacing Your Vegetable Seeds

Lettuce Grow

Have you ever tasted lettuce fresh from the garden? I mean really fresh. Picked less than 30 minutes ago? The difference in taste is incredible! You will never settle for shop lettuce again after you tasted a truly fresh garden lettuce.

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Well lucky for you, lettuce greens are so easy to grow (indoors now, outdoors later), they grow so fast, they’re so nutritious and so delicious, and growing them is a breeze. If you aren't already planning on planting lettuce, here are a few reasons why you ought to:

Not everyone has a large garden space, but the great thing about lettuce is that it’s a fantastic vegetable for container planting. With enough water, lettuce will thrive in trays as shallow as 4” and pots or containers of any kind. And I do mean any kind. Your grandmother had it figured out when she used those old dresser drawers to plant her lettuce in!

The trick is not to go overboard. The biggest mistake home gardeners make when planting lettuce is planting one big patch at the beginning of summer. Five weeks later they’re swimming in lettuce. I’m sure you love salad as much as the next person, but trust me on this one: The key is planting a small patch where you have a gap in the garden every 2-3 weeks instead. That will give you a steady (and manageable) supply through the summer.

Lettuce is one speedy vegetable. It goes from seed to baby greens in 4 to 6 weeks and from seed to salad bowl in 6-8 weeks. Because it grows so quickly, lettuce is a great short season vegetable to interplant with other long season vegetables such as peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, or eggplants.

With dozens of different lettuce varieties, each with its own unique colour, texture and flavour, home gardeners have some serious choice. Here are a few interesting varieties you might enjoy:

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Lettuce - Sea of Red – Sea of Red lettuce is a perfect red-wine contrast to your otherwise very green salad. With open loose heads of sword-shaped leaves that colour up to a beautiful and amazingly deep mahogany-red, this lettuce also makes a great addition to planters with ornamentals. And, unlike other red lettuces that fade in the sun, Sea of Red’s colour just becomes more intense.

Harvesting the entire head of Sea of Red lettuce is fine, however if you snip off the young lettuce leaves about ten centimeters above ground instead, it will vigorously re-sprout and provide several more harvests.

Since the leaves grow upright, it makes growing the lettuces tightly together possible. This creates the appearance of a sea of red!


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Lettuce - Garden Babies Butterhead – This lettuce is a salad lover’s fantasy: buttery texture and an outstanding sweet taste. But more than that, they are a gardener’s dream. This lettuce is perfect looking!

Garden Babies were originally developed for the Japanese luxury market, where a premium is put on flavour and quality. The cute perfectly formed little butterhead rosettes are ideal for growing in containers. They are slow to bolt, heat tolerant, and make twelve to fifteen centimeter heads at maturity.

This lettuce is perfect for individual servings, which makes them as much fun to eat as they are to grow!


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Lettuce - Drunken Woman  The honest truth is I chose this variety because I was tickled by the name. Who could resist having a “Drunken Woman Fringed Headed” in their garden?

The best guess is that this fabulous lettuce’s name refers to its frizzy headed look. The Drunken Woman lettuce boasts emerald green leaves tipped in mahogany red.

Unlike the Butterhead varieties this isn't a melt-in-your-mouth type lettuce. It’s heavy on the crunch! With a nuttier than buttery flavour, Drunken Woman is the perfect vehicle for any number of vinaigrettes or toppings.

Enjoy, and may your salads never be boring again!

When to Prune Your Fruit Trees

Now is a great time to prune those long neglected apple, cherry, apricot, pear, and plum trees. 

I know that a lot of people become stressed-out about pruning fruit trees, fearing that they will irreparably harm them.

While it’s true that bad pruning can harm trees, no pruning is often just as bad if not worse.

Here are a few simple rules for pruning your fruit trees:


•    Don’t remove more than a quarter of the branches in any one year
•    Ensure that every branch is attached to the tree at a wide angle. Narrow "V-shaped" branch attachments are weak and can split
•    Remove broken branches
•    Remove crossing branches
•    Never leave a "stub" but never "flush cut" a branch, always leave a "collar" that is a few millimeters deep 

If you are still a little apprehensive about pruning, pop on down to Hole’s, and we can show you how!

~Jim Hole

  Now fully stocked on all Corona pruning shears, loppers, saws, pole pruners, and hand pruners.

Now fully stocked on all Corona pruning shears, loppers, saws, pole pruners, and hand pruners.

Tomatoes! Unique Seed Varieties

Tomatoes are Canada’s favourite garden vegetable (botanically, tomatoes are a fruit, but since they’re used as a vegetable in eating and cooking they’re usually categorized as such.) With such a myriad of sizes, flavours, and varieties, it’s easy to see why they're so loved. Tomatoes can be enjoyed in many ways, including: raw, in sauces, salads, and drinks, and as an ingredient in countless dishes.

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The tomato species originated in the South American Andes, but its use as a food originated in Mexico, and spread throughout the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Because of the vast choice of tomato varieties (more than 7,500!), choosing a favourite is no easy task. But here are a few unique seed varieties I find particularly interesting, and delicious:

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Tomato - "Banana Legs"

This fun and tasty tomato is similar in shape and colour to a small banana. The fruit has a mild taste and a meaty flesh, making them fantastic for slicing into salads.

Banana Legs is an extremely prolific tomato with 4" yellow fruits that ripen to a golden yellow with distinctive pale stripes.

With enough light, Banana Legs produces so much fruit, that late in the season you can barely make out foliage amongst the tightly clumped fruits!

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Tomatillos - "Two Colour Fiesta"

When thinking of salsa, tomatoes are usually the first ingredient that comes to mind. But, believe it or not, the essential ingredient in the green salsas of Mexican cuisine is not the tomato but the tomatillo: a fruit with a sweet and tangy flavour.

Easy to grow, tomatillos look like large green cherry tomatoes. And, similar to candy, tomatillos are individually wrapped in a thin papery husk.

By late summer, what seems like thousands of fruits dangle from the plant's branches, ensuring that you can more than satisfy your salsa cravings by summer's end.

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Tomato - "Sweetie" 

"Sweetie" tomatoes are an incredibly sweet, red, cherry tomato with a high sugar content and full bodied tomato flavour. They produce masses of grape-sized round fruit in large clusters that keep coming all summer long. Sweetie tomatoes make fantastic additions to a raw vegetable tray and are ideal for salads and garnish. You’ll love them!

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If you're interested in learning more about how to grow tomatoes, join Jim Hole for an informative workshop on April 18th or May 9th 2015 at the Enjoy Centre.  The workshop will cover the best planting techniques, correct soil and nutrients for our zone, tomato seed varieties and types, diseases and prevention, pests and how to protect your harvests, watering and much more.

Dinner Plate Dahlias

 

As the name suggests, dinner plate dahlias are plants that produce giant, dinner plate-sized flowers.

And while the size of their flowers is impressive in itself, even more impressive is the myriad of colours, textures, and varieties of dinner plate dahlias there are to choose from. With their huge variety, and huge flowers, they are—in my opinion—the most spectacular of all the garden plants that we can grow here.

 

Here Comes Doll-ee-uh

Dahlias originated in the tropical climes of Central and South America, are the national flower of Mexico, and were named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl a couple of centuries ago.

But if Anders was around today, he might be a little upset because few people correctly pronounce the name of the plant that bears his name. Dahlias should be pronounced “doll - ee - uhs” but most people call them “day - lee - uhs.

I confess that I also pronounce it incorrectly, but I grew up saying day and I just can’t seem to kick the habit.

 

My 3 Favourites

Picking out the best varieties is tough because there are so many great ones but here are few of my favourites:

  1.  “Kelvin Floodlight” is aptly named because it produces bold, bright-yellow flowers that I find very uplifting because of their warm colour. When the sunlight hits Kelvin Floodlight it does indeed look like it is emitting a beam of light.
  2.  “Sir Alfred Ramsey” is two-toned and, for some strange reason, reminds me of a popsicle. Bright-white petals crown the top of the flower with dark pink tones adorning the bottom of the cluster. Where Kelvin Floodlight evokes feelings of warmth, Sir Alfred Ramsey looks icy and cool.
  3.  “Avignon” is one more of my favourites. It has white petals and appears to have been splashed with purple paint from an artist’s paintbrush. It’s the haute couture dahlia amongst the group and the one I find most intriguing.

 

Let These Dinner Plates Cool Off

The toughest part about growing dinner plate dahlias is slowing them down. They tend to shoot-up very rapidly in warm temperatures, sowhile it is important to warm the roots for rapid and vigorous rootingit is wise to cool them down a bit once they emerge from the soil. Bright light and temperatures in the 16-18°C range are ideal once the dahlias begin to poke through the soil.

All dinner plate dahlias like a rich, well-drained soil, and because they are such large, floriferous plants they need quite a bit of food to keep them healthy and robust. I give my dahlias a shot of Nature’s Source Fertilizer every week, and they respond beautifully with vigorous growth and beautiful flowers.

Keep in mind that dinner plate dahlias, like all dahlias, are not frost tolerant and the tubers must be pulled out of the garden in fall and stored indoor in a cool, dark spot. A cold but not freezing garage is ideal.

Warning: Dahlias May be Addictive

Dinner plate dahlias are perfect showstoppers and make any gardener feel like an expert. But be forewarned. Growing spectacular, gigantic dinner plate dahlias can be addictive and, once you’ve grown them, it may kill your desire to purchase any plants described as dwarf, miniature or petite.  

 

 

Hot Gardening Trends of 2015

   Above, a few of the mini terrarium gardens available in our greenhouse. 

Above, a few of the mini terrarium gardens available in our greenhouse. 

Happy New Year! There are many "Hot 2015 Gardening Trends" lists that come out at this time of the year, so I thought that I would compile items from a few of my favourite lists and see what you think.
 
Cool and exciting
 
The first gardening trend for 2015 that caught my eye and that every gardener will love is "plants that are cool, exciting, and not a ton of work.”
 
Now, I think that this “trend” has been around for a long time, but there is little doubt that we all want to reduce the workload in the yard and have cool, exciting landscapes to enjoy. Maybe 2015 is the breakthrough year?
 
Small space gardens
 
Let’s face it, yards are generally getting smaller and everyone wants to get the most out of the limited space they have. Dwarf plants, square foot gardens, and vertical gardening are a few ways to do this.
 
Miniature Gardens and Terrariums
 
Continuing on with the small theme, miniature or Fairy gardens, bonsais, and terrariums continue to grow in popularity. These Lilliputian landscapes look great, don’t take up a lot of space, and can have a variety of themes from fairies to dinosaurs or model trains. The choices are only limited by one's imagination.
 
Urban Agriculture
 
An increasing number of people are rethinking what their yards are all about.

Some are embracing the idea of treating their yards as tiny farms or urban agricultural plots. Some are even campaigning against city bylaws and ordinances that prohibit the use of animals like chickens in residential areas.

I think it’s a pretty good guess that we won’t see a lot of livestock in our cities anytime soon but I do think there will be pockets of more intense vegetable and fruit growing in neighbourhoods.

~Jim Hole

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 newsletter@holesonline.com! We're programming our 2015 workshops and events now and would love to hear from you.

A Lasagna Garden for the Lazy Gardener

Last weekend I made a Lasagna Bed in my garden. No, this is not something to sleep in or eat, but you can certainly grow food in it!

A Lasagna Bed is actually the way for lazy gardeners to make a new garden bed. The best thing about it is that you don't even have to dig up the lawn!

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The basic idea of a lasagna bed is to put down layers of carbon-rich materials (e.g. dried leaves, straw, cardboard, newspaper), alternated with layers of nitrogen-rich materials ( e.g. grass clippings, green material from your perennial beds and your vegetable garden, uncooked vegetable peels, coffee grinds, manure).

Combined with moisture, this carbon-nitrogen mix will feed the micro-organisms and fungi that decompose material and turn it into a nutrient-rich, growing medium.

The other bonus is that it allows you to make good use of the leaves that are all over your lawn right now and you'll also be able to use up all the green clippings you have from cutting down your perennials and mowing your lawn at the end of the year.

Here is the "recipe" I used for my lasagna bed this year:

  1. Wherever you'd like to start your garden bed, start with a thin layer of material high in nitrogen, to activate the decomposers (e.g. the fungi and micro-organisms). I used steer manure as my starter.  Then add water.
  2. Add a layer of overlapping cardboard or newspaper, to act as a carbon layer and as a weed/grass barrier, until the composting process is well on its way. Add water again!
  3. Add another thin layer of nitrogen rich material. I used clippings from my perennial beds and the green shells of the beans that I had grown this summer. Water!
  4. Add leaves. Water!
  5. More nitrogen, again. Here, I added the contents of my pots and planters. This is actually a mix of carbon (potting soil) and nitrogen (plants). Water!
  6. I still had more leaves to get rid of, so I did another layer. Plus more water!
  7. Finally, I finished things off with a layer of half-composted material from the compost pile I made last year.
  8. You can start the bed right on the lawn, but you should end up with a pile that is at least 1.5 to 2 feet high. As the material decomposes only a few inches will be left.

Now let the snow, winter, and the decomposers do their work.

In the spring, you can dig small trenches into your lasagna bed. By adding just a little bit of light potting soil for your transplants or seeds, you'll be able to plant your fruits, vegetables, and flowers right into these trenches and into your bed.

In such a rich growing medium, they'll grow amazingly!

 

Maria is a landscape designer trained and educated in the Netherlands. She owned a landscape design business for 10 years before moving to Edmonton in 2005 and joining the Hole's team. Book a landscaping design consultation with Maria Beers this fall and we will give you a FREE $25 gift certificate for our Glasshouse Bistro.

Dig In St Albert's Horticulinary Festival

This weekend is going to be a spectacular time to visit Hole's Greenhouse. 

On Friday, we'll be hosting the Opening Gala for the Dig In Horticulinary Festival. The Opening Gala is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the workshops happening all day on Saturday, including 2 workshops that I'm teaching on container gardening [Editor's note: ticket sales for the paid workshops have now closed. Check out the free workshops below though!]

On Saturday, we'll also be offering FREE workshops on the mainstage all day.

  • At 9:00AM, I'll be teaching a free workshop on Companion Planting. In this workshop, you'll learn which plants help each other grow and which plants should be kept far apart from each other.  
  • At 9:30AM, Julianna Mimande from the Glasshouse Bistro will chat about what she learned about Permaculture while visiting Cuba. 
  • Finally, at 3:30PM, we'll be featuring the hottest pepper in the world, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper (grown right here in our greenhouse) in a hot pepper eating contest. I ate a single seed from this pepper a while back, and I'm still reeling from it!

Experts from all over the province will be in attendance, and there will also be lots of other free workshops on honey, oils and vinaigrettes, heritage grains, and much much more!

I'm also looking forward to many of the ticketed workshops. To name just a few of them, there are paid workshops on vertical gardening, sausage making, and even a wineology course! [Editor's note: ticket sales for these paid workshops have now closed. Check out the free workshops above though!]

Whatever you're interested in, we'll have a workshop for you this weekend. I'd love to see you there.

-Jim Hole

 

Growing Bulbs in Alberta and Picking the Right Bulbs for Your Garden

There is a myth that growing bulbs in Alberta is difficult.  

Well, I am Dutch, and I love bulbs, and I have successfully grown almost every type of bulb that I can lay my hands on, right here in Albertasometimes even growing tulips between my strawberries!

So growing bulbs in Alberta is definitely do-able and at Hole's, I get to choose from an amazing collection. My brother-in-law is the owner of one of the largest tulip growing businesses in the world and—while visiting Alberta from the Netherlands last year—he was so excited to find many of the world's rarest and most unique bulbs right here at Hole's Greenhouse.

But how to pick the right bulbs for your garden?

Well, I always have some early flowering crocuses planted near my front entrance, where I will see them every time I leave the house. As soon as the snow melts, the crocuses peep out of the ground with their delicate flowers, announcing the arrival of spring.

An added bonus is that crocusses will naturalize. That means that you only plant them once and they will come back every year with more.

Making it Pop

I find that bulbs have the biggest visual impact if you plant them in groups and in combination with another kind of bulb or with a perennial that flowers at the same time.

Power Combos

One of my favourite combinations for early colour is to plant the bright yellow dwarf narcissus along with the true blue star flowers of the Scillas. Both bulbs will naturalize and this combination works even in a shady garden.

Planted in between your hostas, they will put on a show before your hostas emerge and, later, the large leaves of the hostas will cover up the bulbs as the scillas and narcissus go dormant for the summer.

Timing is Key

Another trick is to find combinations of plants that flower at the same time. Sometimes that is just a matter of trial-and-error or sometimes it is just good luck.

One year I found a great combination, when I planted early purple tulips between my "Fire Cracker" moss phlox  (a ground cover smothered in vibrant fuchsia-pink flowers) and in between my Blue Fescue grass with its fine blue leaves.

Check the Package 

I always look on the package of the bulbs if they are early, mid, or late spring flowering. I find the early and mid-spring flowering bulbs especially interesting, because they flower at a time when not much else does.

Experiment!

This fall I'm going to try a combination of soft yellow "Peach Melba" tulips with a pink trim and flashes of green. In between the tulips, I'm then going to place some with light blue Puschkinias with clusters of star-like light blue flowers. It looks like a marvellous combination to me.  I am not sure if the timing will be right, but it is exciting to try.

I will let you know how it worked out in spring. The beautiful thing about bulbs is that, even if a combination doesn't work out, they're easy to move around.

 

BONUS: Book a landscaping design consultation with Maria Beers this fall and we will give you a FREE $25 gift certificate for our Glasshouse Bistro. 

Fall Gardening: Moving Perennials and Planting Trees in the Fall

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At this time of the year, I get asked everyday if this is still a good time to plant.

The fact is that for many plants fall it is actually THE BEST time to plant! It's also a great time to get deals on perennials, trees, and shrubs too!

Why is it the best time to plant? Well, with plants preparing for winter, there is no energy being used for new growth. Soon leaves will start to drop and the sap stream will stop. All the plant's energy will go to root development and the soil is still warm enough for plants to settle in.

That said, plants that you buy in a garden centre will probably be "root-bound" after growing in a pot for a whole season.  For this reason, it is really important to break up that rootball at planting time, to give the plant a chance to develop new roots. Massaging the rootball lightly will likely not be enough. If necessary, take a knife to loosen the roots and really roughen them up. Make sure you have watered the plant before you do this.

  • Fall is also a good time to plant, move, or split most perennials.You can still see what is growing where and it is easy to remember what was not working well.
  • Most perennials can be split and re-located in fall or spring, but for Peonies, Bearded Irises, and Lilies, fall is the very best time.
  • Tender perennials and grasses are better relocated in spring. Shrubs and most evergreens can be re-located till mid-October.
  • I would not plant or relocate cedars any later than the end of September. 
  • All other trees can be planted or transplanted for as long as the ground is soft.
  • If you have any hardy perennials or shrubs in a pot or planter that you would like to survive winter, then this is the time to plant them in the ground. In our harsh Alberta winters plants will almost never survive in a pot.

When transplanting, mix in some Sea Soil into the new hole that you've dug.Sea Soil is our best compost here at Hole’s. It is made from composted forest fibres and composted fish. It works well for just about any plant and I love the smell of it that reminds me of forest in fall.

Finally, remember to water your plants during fall and soak everything really well before the ground freezes, usually towards the end of October.

 
~Maria Beers
 

 

Maria is a landscape designer trained and educated in the Netherlands. She owned a landscape design business for 10 years before moving to Edmonton in 2005 and joining the Hole's team. Interested in booking a landscape consultation with Maria? Click here.