Loam, loam on the range...


I have a special passion for soils. After all, our farming business began here in St Albert with my Dad scooping up a handful of soil from the banks of the Sturgeon River, squeezing it in his hands, and declaring "This is #1 soil."
Mom and Dad knew that the foundation of any successful farm is high-quality soiland the St Albert and Edmonton region has plenty of it. We are blessed here with loamy soils that are deep, rich, and capable of growing fabulous crops during our years of abundant sunshine and plentiful rainfall.
Great soil is also the foundation for all great gardens but—although it is literally right underneath our feet—there is a lot of confusion about what it is and how to best take care of it.
On Saturday, March 14th at 11 am, I'll be holding a workshop at the Enjoy Centre to solve some of the mysteries our incredible soil, as well as to offer you a firm grounding on how to create the best soils for your garden.

I'll be sharing all of soil's "dirty" little secrets, including:

  • How soil pH affects your plants
  • How soils can get too salty and how to solve it
  • Which nutrients are most important to have in your soil and what happens if you don't have them
  • What types of soils to use for which purposes
  • And what the heck is loam?!

Given that the United Nations has declared 2015 as "the International Year of Soils," I think it’s high time to shine some light on it! 

~Jim Hole

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.