International Year of Soils


Today is the official launch of the United Nations' declaration of 2015 as the "International Year of Soils."
Given that 99% of the food that we humans consume comes from the land (1% from the ocean), soil certainly deserves this special honour.

When I think of soils, I think of the early morning soils classes at the University of Alberta and some of my favourite soils professors like Dr. Jim Robertson who would "correct" any student—myself included—that dirt was NOT soil and soil was NOT dirt. Dirt was stuff that was stuck beneath one's fingernails.
I also remember that our entire business started with Dad (who was also an Agriculture grad from the U of A) picking up a handful of soil from a field in St. Albert and declaring that "This is #1 soil." That is how our farm began…with that one short sentence.

Soil is an incredibly thin layer of material (geologically speaking) that is the lifeblood of our existence on Earth. And soil is fascinating and amazingly complex stuff; for example, a single teaspoon of soil contains a greater number of organisms than the entire population of people on Earth!
Given that it takes about 1 acre of land to feed 1 person, good soil is not something that we can afford to squander.
When it comes to gardening, quality soil is the foundation of any high quality garden. In fact, it’s been estimated that 80% of landscape disorders are due to poor soils.

We'll be having some workshops and talks about soil throughout 2015 (we'll announce details in the coming months), and I hope to see you there.

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