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    Categories: Lifestyle

Love of gardening shared in weekly seminars

Winter is the time of year when gardeners are itching to get into the dirt. This is a good time to plant and order the seeds so that you are ready when the frost goes. In some cases gardeners can get a head start on the gardening season by planting some of their seeds indoors.

Jim Hole, of Hole’s Greenhouses and Gardens estimates he has examined 20,000 plant samples and tested more than 500 soil samples brought to him by worried gardeners, who wanted to grow a better garden. Along the way he has probably answered thousands of gardening questions in the family-owned greenhouse as well as on his gardening show on CBC Radio.

“I think 20,000 is a conservative estimate judging from all the questions we get on weekends,” Hole said, as he explained that from the time he first started university, he was the Hole family’s go-to guy when people came to the greenhouse with sick plants or queries about how to grow the perfect tomato.

“I was the one in the family who was fascinated by the science of growing things,” Hole said.

He has never lost that keen interest and he loves explaining and teaching so hosting weekly gardening seminars was a natural thing for him to do.

The courses were offered for the first time last year and will start up again with the first lecture at 11 a.m. February 4. It will be about planting your own seeds inside to jumpstart your garden.

Hole says that virtually every plant that you might wish to grow in your garden can be successfully started inside but some have a better success rate than others.

“The biggest seeds are the easiest,” he said.

Hole will cover the basics of what supplies are needed, including the best planting soil mixtures, the kinds of containers that are easiest and he will talk about heat pads and grow lights. He will discuss hardening-off techniques so that plants started inside can be gradually introduced to the outside garden. He’ll talk about common errors people make when they start seedlings.

It’s hard for the home-gardener to replicate the conditions of a greenhouse. Gardeners might be able to use grow lights, but some plants require different temperatures when they first sprout. Hole will outline the specific requirements of different seedlings and provide a few tricks to help keep the baby plants happy.

“For example tomatoes need bright light and cool temperatures but you can simulate wind conditions with your hand brushing over the seedlings or by using a fan,” he said.

He will also explain the best planting times so that the flowers or vegetables will be ready to go outside once the danger of frost has passed.

At every session Hole hopes to bring his love of plant science to the audience.

“My first topic in the weird question department will be, ‘How do they grow watermelons without seeds?’ I won’t tell you the answer,” Hole said, “Until you come to the seminar.”

The first two Saturday seminars are set, with Planting Seeds scheduled for Feb. 4. Gardening for Novices will be held Feb. 11.

“Gardening is really intimidating for some people who never had the chance to learn as kids. I hope to help them with that and take some of the mystery out of it,” Hole said.

The usual starting time for lectures will be 11 a.m. but if there are a large number of registrations a second class may be offered at a later time.

All sessions are free but pre-registration is required at holesonline.com/free-talks. The upcoming topics Hole plans to address do not have definite scheduled dates as of yet. It’s best to check the website for times.

Upcoming topics:

• Soil: It’s not dirt

• Pruning: the best time to prune is when the saw is sharp

• Tomatoes: not all are created equally

• 10 surefire ways to kill your trees and shrubs

• Go vertical – grow in containers

• How to get rid of bugs without sprays (conventional and organic methods)

Susan Jones: Susan Jones has been a freelance writer for the St. Albert Gazette since 2009, following a 20-year career at the St. Albert Gazette. Susan writes about homes, gardens, community events and people.