7 episodes

Expect to hear next level of information about growing like a pro. In this podcast expert gardener Donna Balzer interviews growers about their special interests and brings their lives and stories to life. Do you want to learn about growing organic saffron or how to grow a gravel garden into rich garden soil? Or maybe you want to crack the code on growing peppers, tomatoes or carrots? Would a few words of wisdom from a professional flower grower boost your success with flower pots forever? If you are a gardener ready for the next level then this podcast will help you grow.

Helping Gardeners Grow: The Podcast Donna Balzer

    • Education

Expect to hear next level of information about growing like a pro. In this podcast expert gardener Donna Balzer interviews growers about their special interests and brings their lives and stories to life. Do you want to learn about growing organic saffron or how to grow a gravel garden into rich garden soil? Or maybe you want to crack the code on growing peppers, tomatoes or carrots? Would a few words of wisdom from a professional flower grower boost your success with flower pots forever? If you are a gardener ready for the next level then this podcast will help you grow.

    Episode 7 – Epic Tomatoes: Interview with Author Craig LeHoullier

    Episode 7 – Epic Tomatoes: Interview with Author Craig LeHoullier

    Guest: Craig LeHoullier
    Big Idea:
    Craig trained as a chemist so when he was laid off it made sense to keep using his scientific mind. And because this is not an episode of Breaking Bad, Craig turned to tomatoes. He has been actively involved in the Dwarf Tomato project for 15 years, is devoted to breeding and growing these great new “Heirloom” tomatoes, and grows in various unconventional ways using straw bales and plastic bags. “This [raising and breeding tomatoes] is much more satisfying, fulfilling and enjoyable [than the corporate world] says Craig in this interview.
    When he is not growing tomatoes, Craig is writing about them and about gardening generally. In this interview he explains why he is breeding tomatoes, how he grows up to 150 different types on his driveway, and how he waters everything by hand. One of his favourite introductions is Dwarf Sweet Sue (named for his wife). It is 6-8 oz, yellow with a pink blush, dwarf tomato (about 4-5 feet tall) with a magnificent flavour.
    Craig also tells us how he found and named the popular Cherokee Purple tomato. Many of Craig’s seeds are for sale at Victory Seeds (https://www.victoryseeds.com/) and he encourages growers everywhere to go to Victory Seeds and report their success with the new dwarf tomato varieties they grow this year.
    If you are interested in getting seeds of the fabulous long keeper tomato Donna was still eating in February and March look for Clare’s Long keeper tomatoes at Prairie Seeds in Saskatchewan https://prseeds.ca/seed_categories/solanaceae-nightshades/tomatoes/long-keeper/
    Craig’s Website: https://www.craiglehoullier.com/intro

    • 49 min
    Episode 6 – Tomato Farmers: Getting a Late Start

    Episode 6 – Tomato Farmers: Getting a Late Start

    Guests: Al Grant & Gayle Berry
    Big Idea:
    Gayle and Al retired three times between them and were newlyweds in 2015 when they saw a farm with a greenhouse for sale near Qualicum Beach, B.C. They wanted to do something worthwhile with their time together so they bought the farm. Because they have already retired from careers, Gayle calls her and Al “elderly” farmers, and together they re-certified their 5-acre organic farm and they do all the farm labour. This is their sixth growing season in their now-improved 3,600 square foot greenhouse.
    In the interview, Gayle and Al mention trying Stupice tomato, but now they only grow one variety: Arbason beefsteak tomatoes (https://www.westcoastseeds.com/products/arbason-beefsteak-organic)
    Because their farm is certified organic they are using organic fertilizers including liquid Biofert (3-1-4) ( http://www.biofert.ca/products/liquid-fertilizers/tomato-vegetable-3-1-4.html) and they start seeds in OMRI (organic) certified soils. They also use Myke brand Mychorrizae (https://www.usemyke.com/en-ca/mycorrhizae/ ) in the hole at transplanting time to stimulate root production.
    Al told me, after the interview, that he is concerned about food security, especially now with so many food-growing greenhouses converting to Cannabis production. Even though he is getting a late start, this farm is giving Al a chance to grow food and help his community be more food secure.
    Website: Eagle Tree Organics is Gayle and Al’s business name but they do not have a web page. They are listed on the Organic Certification List (IOPA) here: http://iopa.ca/index.php/iopa-members/

    • 31 min
    Episode 5 – The Tables are Turned: Robyn interviews Donna

    Episode 5 – The Tables are Turned: Robyn interviews Donna

    In this episode of Helping Gardeners Grow our producer Robyn Buchanan interviews Donna Balzer so we can learn more about our host and find out why she gardens and how she does it.
    Donna has a degree in Agriculture plus over thirty years of gardening and media experience including years of radio and television. Donna co-hosted HGTV’s internationally aired show Bugs & Blooms and has spent years teaching, talking and writing about gardening.
    In this episode Donna reveals how to seed a lawn quickly so Gorilla’s won’t roll it up; make sure your peonies are planted perfectly so they bloom; and the biggest difference between her new garden on the west coast compared to all her years of gardening on the prairies.
    For more info and to support this show go to the shop on Donna’s page (https://donnabalzer.com/shop/ ) and buy a book or great garden product like biochar or grow bags.
    If you have a garden question about this or past episodes email askdonna@donnabalzer.com and we will include it on a future episode!

    • 31 min
    Episode 4 – Transforming Soil: From gravel to garden with leaves and manure

    Episode 4 – Transforming Soil: From gravel to garden with leaves and manure

    Cliff started raising food in his largely gravel and cobble garden loosely framed in by boards and sawdust. The first thing he did was remove the boards and haul out all the pill-bug infested sawdust. Then, inspired by Eliot Coleman, he started improving his soil and creating rows in the garden. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/145101.The_New_Organic_Grower . Cliff believes in his broadfork to add air to the soil in the spring. https://www.johnnyseeds.com/tools-supplies/long-handled-tools/broadforks/
    Over twenty years ago he started adding manure, straw and leaves and has built his topsoil from barely an inch to over 24 inches. In the beginning he started to pile up the rocks he removed from the soil. This rock pile is now a home to slug-eating garter snakes. The newspaper and straw added between the rows make the perfect habitat for the big black beetles that feast on soil-born pests and insects.
    On an interesting side note, when Cliff stopped mowing the lawn in his orchard, he noticed more blooms in his field and fewer pests in his greenhouse. He is guessing this is because the insect-attractive habitat around his orchard provides a home for beneficial insects that are eating or parasitizing the insects in his greenhouse. Seriously this reminds me of the work shown in the recent documentary The Biggest Little Farm. Cliff is obviously at the cutting edge of gardens everywhere.
    Note: Cliff is a private gardener, not a garden writer or speaker but his work is so impressive I wanted to share it as soon as I saw him pull his impressive potatoes last fall. If, like Cliff, you have something amazing to share let me know. Cliff is a climate activist who uses solar power to run his electric car and has eliminated fossil fuels from his land and home. The food grown on his land is shared with his community via regular deliveries to the food bank. He is an inspiration to me!
    Guest: Cliff Stainsby

    • 24 min
    Episode 3 – Canadian Citrus Growing: tips from a northern gardener

    Episode 3 – Canadian Citrus Growing: tips from a northern gardener

    Citrus Growing. As a Horticulturist and grower for 40 years in Alberta and British Columbia, Jane knows how to grow “Living Lettuce” and “Living Basil” perfectly. But as she approaches 60 she realizes she wants to retire from the hourly demands of hydroponics so she sells off her equipment, rebuilds the soil and plants citrus and other sub-tropicals in her existing greenhouse. 
     
    Now six years later she grows and eats citrus year-round from her 6,000 square foot greenhouse and says “If you can keep them from freezing you can grow any of these varieties!” (Hint: most citrus will grow in your house if you can give them a cool space in winter.) Hear about Jane’s favourite citrus and how she supplies Chefs with her rare and unusual Finger Limes.
     

    Guest: Jane Squier https://www.thegardensaltspring.com/

     

    • 33 min
    Episode 2 – A Renter’s Market Garage Garden: growing greens in a small space

    Episode 2 – A Renter’s Market Garage Garden: growing greens in a small space

    As a renter, every time Dan moves, he leaves behind the vegetable garden and all the infrastructure he has built. This time Dan does things differently. He installs a very mobile, vertical, hydroponic system for growing greens in his garage.
    And bonus! The lights and “farm” relieve his winter angst and brighten his moods. Gardening does that but winter gardening indoors is a benefit Dan, tech worker by day, grower by night, is inspired to share. Learn about Dan’s Farm Wall system and how renters everywhere can benefit by growing their own food indoors. PS He sells food from his 240 square foot farm! Inspiring.
    Guest: Dan LaRocque, https://surlydan.com/
    Links: Bright Agrotech ZipFarm: https://zipgrow.com/zipfarm/

    • 24 min

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