vegetable

Hole's Top 10 Favourite Fruit & Vegetable Varieties

Each year at Hole's, we tweak and perfect the way we grow our crops, so that we can provide you with better choices and the best advice. Here is a list of our absolute favourite fruit & vegetable varieties, sold here, at Hole's Greenhouses.

1. Sweet 150 Tomato

A Canadian favourite, Sweet 150 Tomatoes can produce more than 150 tomatoes per season. Bursting with flavour, these cherry tomatoes are perfect for fresh eating, cooking, & even juicing. Pick up your Sweet 150 Tomato plant today to keep you snacking all season long.


2. Odyssey Apple Tree

If you don’t have an apple tree in your garden yet, what are you waiting for? Developed in Manitoba, Odyssey apples are yellow with red blush. Much like Gala apples, Odyssey apples are very sweet and great for fresh eating. These apples are ready to harvest in mid-September, and store for up to 3 months. 


3. Tumbling Tom Red & Tumbler Cherry Tomato Plants

A unique cherry tomato that is perfect for container growing. Try our Tumbling Tom Red or Tumbler Cherry tomato plants. Like the Minimato Tomato, these varieties are also determinate, meaning they are bred to grow at a compact height and don't need to be pruned. Perfect for container gardening! 


4. Scarlet Nantes Carrot

Because of their sweet and juicy qualities, Scarlet Nantes Carrots are our favourite for snacking, cooking, and topping salads. These carrots grow beautifully in cool weather and shrug-off frost with ease.


5. Cool Breeze Cucumber

Here’s a cucumber that is really different. Cool Breeze is 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!

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


6. Cylindra Beets

As its name suggests, Cylindra is a cylindrical beet. This Danish heirloom is smooth-skinned with dark purple-red flesh, and grows a dark red, elongated root.

Cylindra is a favourite in the kitchen due to it's uniform slices and ease of peeling.

Nearly two thirds of the length of the root will grow above ground, so some gardeners like to hill up soil around each plant as the root emerges. This will keep the skins of the root very tender and protect them from insects.


7. Ghost Chili Pepper

Hole's smoking hot garden favourite! Great things come in small packages. The Ghost Chili Pepper is considered one of the world's hottest peppers, measuring between 850,000 and 1 million Scoville units on the heat scale. When ripe, it turns a fiery red!


8. Goliath Tomato

Just as the name suggest, this plant produces enormous beefsteak tomatoes. With tomatoes this big, be sure to provide a cage for support. Great looking plant as well, with high yields—up to 70 tomatoes from a single plant! Great for sandwiches and burgers... if you can find a bun big enough.


9. Bodacious Sweet Corn

The trifecta of corn varieties: great for fresh eating, freezing and canning. High quality sweet corn that has large, mouth-watering kernels. A popular market variety that shows tolerance to common rust and tolerates cold weather conditions better than other varieties.


10. Green Arrow Peas

The best thing about this variety is the pea-pod length. These extra long pods mean a generous yield of sweet, tender peas. Each pod will contain between 9 and 11 peas! Happy picking.


Visit Hole's Greenhouses today for better choices, and the best advice.

Food For Thought, By Lois Hole

I believe very strongly in education, so whenever I’m asked to speak at school, I do my best to come—although I must admit, sometimes I leave my preparations until the last minute.


One warm June morning, I visited a grade five and six class. The only topic I could come up with to talk about was “Watering in the Greenhouse”. When I got there and saw how tired the kids looked, my heart sank. “Oh crum,” I thought, “they aren’t going to listen to a word I say.”
Just then, my eye caught a pair of familiar, brightly smiling faces. Two little Italian boys, who often came out to the farm with their parents and grandparents, were sitting in the front row. With a flash of inspiration, I realized I didn’t have to talk about watering after all.


“Let me tell you a little story,” I said. “Years ago on our farm, we didn’t grow very many different kinds of vegetables. We had never grown broccoli or zucchini. Then, one day, some Italian customers came out to our farm and told us how to grow it and even how to cook it. The next year, we planted some. It was wonderful.”


The Italian boys sat there, beaming with pride. I began to look around at the other faces and realized that practically every ethnic group was represented in that classroom. So, I carried on with my strategy.


“We had German customers who taught us about growing big cabbages and making sauerkraut. Lebanese folks told us that vegetable marrow was especially delicious when picked small—they called it kousa. East Indians introduced us to hot peppers and showed us different ways to cook with them.”


I noticed one small boy in the back. I couldn’t see him very well without my glasses, so I tried to guess. “The Chinese people told us about using vegetables in stir-fry.” The boy didn’t bat an eye. “Darn,” I thought, “I made a mistake.” So I tried again. “And the Japanese showed us daikon and all the different ways they cook vegetables.” Still no reaction. Finally, he put up his hand and asked, “Mrs. Hole, what did the Koreans teach you?” Fortunately, I had recently tried kim Chee, Korean pickled cabbage, so I talked about that.


By now, the rest of the kids were jumping up and down, their hands waving in the air. “What about the Yugoslavians? What about the Hungarians?” Of course, I didn’t have an example to give each and every one of them, so when I was stumped, I simply asked, “What did you have for dinner last night?” When the child answered, I replied, “That’s it!” and made a mental note to add those dishes to my vegetable repertoire.


When I tell this story, I always add a fictional kid who asks me, “What did the English teach you?” I say, “Not much!” My husband, who’s of English descent, gets a big kick out of that!
But you know, those kids made me realize something. If it hadn’t been for new Canadians introducing us to all kinds of different, wonderful vegetables, our business wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. Because we were able to offer so many kinds of produce, people came from miles around to shop at our place.


I like to think of that phenomenon as a reflection of Canada’s success. Our diversity is our greatest strength.

-Lois Hole I'll Never Marry A Farmer

Something Almost Magical

We once planted a large patch of tomatoes right next to our house, on a south-facing wall. As usual, we planted extra, since it wasn’t unusual for only a portion of the crop to come to fruition. Wouldn’t you know it—the season turned out to be perfect! The summer was long and hot, with just the right amount of moisture. As a result, we wound up with tons of tomatoes, more than we could ever hope to use or sell.

One day, a friendly Italian man was driving by and spotted the tomato motherlode. With a grin, he offered to take away any extras we had. Well, we filled the box of his 1958 Chevy half-ton right to the brim. He told us he was going to make the load into sauce—surely enough to last a lifetime! A tomato or two bounced out of the back of the truck as he drove off with a happy wave. 

I’ve always believed that no other vegetable can produce such spontaneous joy in people; there’s just something magical about tomatoes.

A Good Start

Tomatoes need a lot of care, and choosing a location for them is just the first step. I always make sure to give them one of the garden “hot spots,” along our south-facing wall. With our climate, I put transplants into the garden, and I always use top-quality plants. Buying poor plants never makes sense; use good quality plants that are sure to bear lots of fruit rather than poor plants that won’t yield well. I always ensure that the plants have been “hardened off,” that is, acclimatized to the harsher conditions they face outdoors. Plants that haven’t been properly hardened off will be set back.

I’m alert to cool night-time temperatures and ready to run to the rescue when necessary. If there is any threat of frost, I cover the plants with blankets or towels: tomatoes simply can’t take the cold.

I use cages for my determinate (bush) tomato plants. Although it isn’t strictly necessary, I find these plants benefit from the use of cages, since bush tomato plants tend to spread across the ground. The foliage becomes quite thick and bushy, protecting the fruit from sun scald, but fruit often lay on the ground. Cages hold the fruit of the soil, decreasing the threat of slugs and soil-borne diseases. Tall-growing indeterminate tomato plants, of course, must be staked and pruned.

Caring for tomatoes may be demanding work, but biting into the sweet, red fruit makes it all worthwhile.

-Lois Hole I'll Never Marry A Farmer

Now available on eBook: Jim and Lois Hole's Canadian Vegetable Garden Favourites!

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Written by renowned market gardeners and greenhouse owners Jim and Lois Hole, this eBook goes over how and when to plant some of the most popular garden vegetables.


From asparagus to zucchini and everything in between, this guide includes harvesting and storage info, as well as fixes to common edible plant problems. Also included are some of the most popular vegetables such as kale, tomatoes, eggplant, and sweet potatoes—and even garden fruits such as strawberries.


A handy resource for any gardener, the advice in this book can also be applied to square foot gardening, raised bed gardening, container gardening and even market gardening.


Available in our online shop for only $4.99!

"Amaizing" Corn Varieties

Corn has long been a popular vegetable and all the more so when freshly harvested. The taste will far surpass anything you'll find in a grocery store! 

As you may already know, corn does best in warm climates and soil. But with a few precautions, growing corn in Alberta can be well worth it.

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Corn needs be planted in blocks of 3-4 rows instead of in a single long row, with each plant at least 24" apart. This encourages better corn pollination, because each plant will have at least three neighbors from which it can catch and retain pollen. The more pollen available, the greater the number of kernels on each ear.

Corn is also a heavy feeder - particularly of nitrogen - and may require several side-dressings of fertilizer for best yields.

If you follow these simple rules, you're sure to get a great crop. All there is left to do is decide which variety of corn you'd like to grow! Here are a few suggestions you might enjoy:

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Peaches & Cream Corn - A perfect blend of luscious, white and yellow kernels that produce two different flavours in every bite! 

Corn on the cob is one of the best, and most highly anticipated summer treats, and is great for grilling with the husks left on. Home-grown corn has amazing flavour and sweetness, so much better than what you find in the grocery stores. This sugary enhanced  hybrid holds its sweet flavor longer after picking.

Peaches and Cream corn produces 20cm long ears with 14 delicious rows of sugar-sweet kernels; an excellent variety for the home garden!


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White Corn - Sugar Pearl - The sweetest, prettiest white corn in the garden—and it arrives super early!

Sugar Pearl's fast-growing, vigorous stalks grow just 5 to 5-1/2 feet tall, producing delicious ears of pearly white sweet kernels with that delicate, meltingly tender flavour that characterizes really delicious white corn.

This trouble-free and reliable variety is ideal for short or early season growing, ripening succulent ears before most other white varieties.


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Sweet Corn - Kandy Korn - A sweet corn so delicious it's often requested by name!

Kandy Korn is outstanding not only for its flavour but also for its long, late harvest. It has 16-20 rows of delectable, sweet, golden kernels, and can be harvested just 89 days after planting.

This popular variety grows on tall, vigorous stalks, with plump ears that are fantastic for eating fresh, or freezing and canning.


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Corn - Luscious - If you like your corn sweet, Luscious really lives up to it's name.

With a good balance of sugars and corn taste, the attractive blunt 17-20cm long ears are just what you want in an early mid-season bicolour.

 Luscious is easy to grow, too, with good cold-soil emergence and early vigor.


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Popcorn - Robust - When you think of eating healthy, popcorn may not be the first food that comes to mind. But this dent corn relative is one of the best all-around snack foods around, providing almost as much protein, iron and calcium as beef!

A cup of popped, un-buttered popcorn contains fewer calories than half a medium-sized grapefruit. Popcorn, a whole grain, has as much fiber as Bran Flakes or whole wheat toast. Who knew!

 With Robust, you'll enjoy easy-to-digest, hull-less eating quality of crisp, tender popcorn that has a larger popping volume than old open-pollinated varieties.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.